I have seen many many teenage mothers deliver at this point. The youngest patient that I have had was 12. You read that right. Unfortunately, I have become a pro at navigating through the Child Protective Service reporting system.
I took care of a 15yo this week (the FOB was 23) and after talking about it with a couple of my friends I realize that my take on sex education of kids is probably pretty different than the norm. A lot of my friends with kids the same ages as mine, haven't even started the sex discussions yet. My feeling is that it should be an ongoing conversation, not a one time lecture.
My daughter Little Miss is 8 going on 9, the sex ed conversation probably began about 5 years ago. Seriously. Early conversations involved the homebirth of her little brother Bean. I wanted her to be there for the delivery, so I worked really hard to prepare her for the sights and sounds of birth. We read books, watched birth videos, and howled together (birth noises). My best friend was her caregiver during my labor. They made a birthday cake for Bean and watched movies. Heck I even have a picture of Little Miss in the big birth tub with me rubbing my back (my sweet little doula)! She was brought into the bedroom right at delivery. She talks about it now, but I am not sure if she really remembers or just remembers the pictures.
She has always been interested in my tampons and pads, in menstruation, and recently has been asking about body hair. I have explained the basics of sex to her in very simple terms. I have explained that her private parts are hers and no one else is to touch them. She seems to get it. She hates me talking about sex now though. She seems annoyed, but she is informed!
So now back to my 15yo patient. The conversation went like this:
Me: How old was she when she got pregnant?
Me: What grade is that?
Her: (lots of calculating) 8th? She is still in a grade?
Me: Yes, but I think that she is 9th now. She was in 8th when she got pregnant though. How many more grades is that than you?
Me: Wow, that's not much. Do you think that you could take care of a baby and still go to school everyday?
Her: I dunno (eye roll).
Me: I think that she is going to have a really hard time. Taking care of a baby is really hard. They have to be fed every 2 hours (even during the night), they cry, they need diaper changes, and constant attention. That is pretty hard work don't you think?
Her: Yeah, it does sound hard. Why would she want a baby now?
Me: I don't think that she chose to have a baby, I think that she got pregnant by accident.
Her: Wow. What are we having for dinner?
And that was the end of that conversation! This really wasn't a "sex talk", but it was part of the ongoing sex education. Sex education is about more than the mechanics of the sex act and pregnancy. Sex education IMO is about 3 simple things:
1) Respecting yourself and your potential partner
2) Respecting the responsibility of having sex
3) Respecting the responsibility that comes with parenting
If I can get those 3 key things through to my kiddos, than I will feel like I have succeeded!
Now Bean on the other hand.... Well, the little stinker totally shocked me today. Out of the blue he told me that was going to marry Natalie (a little girl at his preschool) and that he was going to put a baby in her tummy because she didn't have a baby yet and she needed one. Oh. My. Goodness. DEEP BREATHS! He is only 4! At least he knows where babies come from? Right? He knew that babies came from a girl's tummy because of my belly cast from my pregnancy with him, let alone hearing his mother talk about birth all of the time... However, I didn't know that he knew yet that boys put the babies in the girls tummies. Le sigh. I think that it is time to start the conversation with him!
They aren't teenagers yet. That is a whole 'nother type of conversation, but I already have plans. I have LOTS of medical textbooks with LOTS of graphic pictures of all kinds of STD's. By that time I will be a midwife and I will have access to EVERY BIRTH CONTROL DEVICE KNOWN TO MAN. And of course I will have a condom stash somewhere in the house that they will know about. Do I want them to have sex as teenagers? Heck no! But, IF they do I want them to be safe and responsible. I want them to respect themselves and their partner. I want it to be a conscious decision- not a spur of the moment impulse decision. I want them to realize that they have a choice.