October is “Let’s Talk” Month, to encourage parents to talk with teens about responsible decisions, and teen pregnancy. Leslie Schmalzried with Prevention Concepts in Indianola says it’s typical to shy away from talking with kids about sex and decision-making because parents don’t feel like experts.As parents, she asks if any of us are ever prepared to raise the kids we get, with all the things they’re facing, and she remembers her own mother having trouble broaching the subject. Schmalzried says her counselors hear from youth more than anything else that they want the facts, and they want their parents to tell them what their values are. Schmalzried says the first big step of for parents is to sit down and figure out what they DO think — what their values include and how they’d spell that out.She explains some will encourage their son or daughter not necessarily to be sexually active but to be responsible and use birth-control the parents didn’t have access to — while others will realize they want their message to tie sex to their faith and abstinence as the best policy. Schmalzried says the worst thing to do is try and keep young people in the dark. That will miss the “teachable moments” when our kids run daily into young mothers and fathers in their high-school and college, and when something’s sprung on them they should know in advance how they feel about it. Prevention Concepts actually works to keep kids off substance abuse, but Schmalzried says the private agency works in many ways with police, the media and families in central Iowa. She says that’s linked to adolescent pregnancy, child-abuse, domestic violence and lots of things on society that may involve them in alcohol or drug abuse, all things the agency tries to prevent.
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