LALA Series- ACT

Choices Consequences Image

Talking LALA: What Grands, Aunties and Other Influencers Need to Know About Teens and Birth Control

Step Four: Act  

 

As an influencer it seems like you are always doing something for someone.  

In this case talking about birth control with the teen in your life is one of those somethings for someone that is life changing.

Connecting choices with consequences is really what this is all about.

Your influence can help make that connection for your teen. 

This blog is the last in the four part Talking LALA series.

LALA stands for Learn, Ask, Listen and Act. 

The LALA series helps influencers like grandparents, aunts, uncles and other trusted adults discuss birth control with teenagers.

The series also gives you a solid foundation for building an honest relationship with the teen in your life.  

As the influencer of a teen you know there are several topics you don’t want to avoid. 

School and grades lead the pack of course.

A discussion about unplanned pregnancy and birth control are a close second.    

If you are stepping in as the primary parent or a ‘sometimes’ parent it is important that you brave the birth control conversation.

If you assume your teen is not sexually active because you don’t want them to be, let me wave you off from that line of magical thinking. 

Your desire alone will not do the trick but being realistic and proactive with your teen will have a great effect.

To prepare for the talk, check out our previous blogs in the LALA series.  

In this series you will:  

  • Learn about birth control options. 

  • Ask what your teen thinks about birth control. 

  • Listen to how your teen feels. 

Scroll down below to read more about the first three steps. 

The last step is to act.

Perfect you think.  

My teen needs to act like I told them to. 

Nice try but no.

Act in this case means you purposefully help your teen create a plan to avoid unplanned pregnancies. 

Here are four actions you can take today that can help. 


Fix Your Face

Let’s make your first act as the wise influencer in this situation to declare your relationship judgement free.  

If you don’t do or remember anything from this or any other blog in this series do this. 

Don’t judge.  

My mom used to say, ‘fix your face’ when my thoughts were readable in my expression at the wrong moment.  

Hold judgemental thoughts for later private inspection. 

Why? 

Simply put, everyone fears negative judgement.

The unspoken part of judgement is that you are saying to your teen you are wrong or unacceptable.  

Judgement like this can create shame and feelings of unworthiness.

This is not the best atmosphere for building a strong, confident  young person.

It also can crush honest communication.

Research tells us that if your teen does something you don’t agree with he or she may feel the relationship is in jeopardy. 

There is often not a clear understanding of the difference between the behavior and the person. 

Teen brains are always developing and are just learning fine detail like this difference.  

It can be made worse if your teen, like most, struggles with self acceptance. 

Teens have told researchers that what they are looking for is a sounding board more than an opinion or an answer.  

So trustworthy influencers, fix your face and stay purposeful.    

You can become the judgement free person your teen can talk to about anything.

You will likely learn more than mom or dad and grow closer.  


Dig into Abstinence

If your teen picks abstinence as their plan to remain free from unplanned pregnancies you can feel like you are in the safety zone.  

Abstinence offers 100% protection from unplanned pregnancies. 

Great you think as you put your feet up and forget all about birth control for your teen.  

Again I have to wave you off from that thinking.  

Abstinence requires real planning with lots and lots of details and follow-up.  

Here are some things that need to go into your teens abstinence planning. 

  • Define abstinence

  • What does abstinence mean for your teen 

  • What are you abstaining from 

  • Why are you abstaining from that

  • How long are you abstaining from that specific act 

  • How will you know when you no longer want to be abstinent 

  • What will you do to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancy when you decide to no longer remain abstinent 

  • When and how will you discuss your abstinence plan with a partner

  • What will you do if your partner wants to be physical in a way that is not a fit with your abstinence plan.

Yes this list could go on but you get the point.  

Left unattended abstinence can become a greater risk to your teens future  than birth control methods because it depends on consistent 100% human intervention all times. 

Celebrating abstinence with rings and public promises is important for some people.

If your teen chooses this be sure you create a way for them to talk to you without shame or guilt if they make a different choice later.  

Get Educated

Reproductive health education is a vital part of every plan to prevent unplanned pregnancies.

Include getting educated on the facts in your teen’s plans.

A Step Ahead Foundation offers free health education programs for preteens, teens and young adults in Memphis and Shelby county.  

We offer programs that engage teens and young adults through age appropriate education sessions, youth councils and scholarship opportunities.  

 

Two important programs are:

  • The Girl Talk program is made specifically for girls 11-18.  This program covers topics like abstinence, healthy relationships, the female anatomy, how to prevent unplanned pregnancy and effective birth control. Click here to learn more. 

 

  • The Guy Talk program is made specifically for boys 11-18.  This program covers topics like male anatomy, basic hygiene, healthy consent, abstinence, how to prevent unplanned pregnancy and effective birth control. Click here to learn more. 

 

Follow this link to learn more about these and other A Step Ahead programs. 


Get a Method

If your teen is ready for a birth control method to prevent unplanned pregnancy A Step Ahead Foundation can help.

ASAF offers free long-acting reversible contraception methods through their partner clinics free of charge.  

Long-acting reversible methods make it easy to prevent an unplanned pregnancy by offering protection that lasts for several years after only one doctor’s visit.

There are two long acting reversible methods of birth control offered by ASAF that are 99% effective. 

 

  • Intrauterine device (IUD) is a small plastic t-shape device placed in the uterus

    • The hormonal IUD works by releasing very small amounts of progestin over three to five years.

    • The non-hormonal IUD works like a spermicide and lasts up to 10 years. 

  • Implant is a small plastic match-stick life device placed in the upper arm

    •  Works by releasing very small amounts of hormones over a three year period. 

 

Follow this link to learn more about these methods of birth control. 

To prevent sexually transmitted infections your teen’s plan must also include condoms.  

It is important to partner a birth control method with a condom.  

Like Batman and Robin they work together to prevent infection and pregnancy.

You have the real life experience to know how important connecting choices and consequences can be in your teen’s life.  

Avoiding pregnancy and embracing education is a great place to start.  

Are ready to dive in? 

Do you need a refresher or want to share some tips?  Together we can come up with a plan that can work for you.
 

Let me know. I would love to hear from you. Email me at deborah [at] astepaheadfoundation [dot] org

 

Thanks for reading!

 

LALA Series- LISTEN

Copy Of Clean Work Place Blog Banner 2

Talking LALA: What Grands, Aunties, and Other Influencers Need to Know About Teens and Birth Control

Step Three: Listen  

So you want to be the wise elder or trusted adult that your teen talks to?  

Perfect!  This will be a short blog.  Only four steps.

  1. Ask your teen an important question, one that helps you learn what they think. 

  2. Stop talking inside your mind

  3. Listen, and keep listening

  4. Repeat steps 1-3

And... you’re done!

I don’t think this is lol funny, but it at least a slight smile. 

If building a trusting, sincere relationship was this easy we would all be doing it, no help needed.

The steps are easy to read but mighty hard to do.  

When you throw in the topic of birth control this whole thing goes off the rails.  

This blog is the third in the four-part Talking LALA blog series.

LALA stands for Learn, Ask, Listen, and Act. 

The LALA series helps influencers like grandparents, aunts, uncles and other trusted adults discuss birth control with teenagers.

As an influencer, you can find yourself in the position of parenting a teen when you least expect it. 

If you are acting as a primary parent for a few weeks or months or years the discussion about birth control and education is vital.

As you already know the choices they make today will shape the consequences they face tomorrow. 

Acting as the parent to help them make choices that are in line with their goals is an important role.  

When your teen talks about their education and career goals it is always exciting.

Discussions about birth control and preventing unplanned pregnancy not so much. 

This blog series can help you get ready for that conversation.  

There are two important things you can do to get started. 

Learn First

Influencer, if you want to help shape how your teen understands their world including birth control options, get educated. 

The first blog in this four-part series focuses on learning about the most popular birth control options. Scroll down to read more about learning. 

This will likely make you feel uncomfortable. 

To help your teen it is important you get comfortable being uncomfortable.

The more you know the less weird a discussion about birth control will feel. 

Ask Second 

Research tells us that teens want to be asked what they think.

Studies also say we are our own favorite topic.  

So when those two things are put together you get a whole new understanding of your teen.

Along with school and other topics, this is an opportunity to ask what your teen thinks about birth control.

Check out our second blog below in this series to get some specific tips on how to ask questions that lead to honest discussion.  

Listen Third

Once you have bravely asked your teen the question, “what do you think….?” you have to stop talking and listen.  

These are 3 things you can do to improve your listening skills.

Stop Talking Inside

All of us talk inside of our heads

It is work to stop that chatter in our minds and listen.  

Our minds chatter more when we are uneasy or face a lack of control.  

I think talking about birth control with your teen qualifies as an uneasy topic you really don’t control.

Try saying to yourself ‘my mind is chattering but I need to focus and listen.’

To stay present and reduce tension press gently but firmly on the skin between your thumb and index finger for a few seconds. 

And in that moment, challenge yourself to stay in the present time and listen. 

Listen Actively Pay attention when your teen talks.  Looking at each other directly is great but maybe too intense.If so, start the conversation when you are doing something together or texting.Driving, cooking, or chores around the house are also good buffers.  Once you are comfortable with the topic it might be easier to sit and talk without distractions. Ask for Meaning. 
Don’t assume you both define words the same way.  

You have to check, especially if your teen uses slang.

Try these follow-up questions to make sure you get it.

“So I think you were saying . . . . , is that right?”

“What do you mean when you say. . . ?”

Listening is meant to give you insight into your teen. 

When you listen and do not interrupt it sends the message that what they have to say is important. 

As tempting as it may be, don’t get hung up on how they deliver the message.  

That can be a distraction from the meaning. 

Your job is to look for the meaning and confirm you understand.

This does not mean you agree it just means you heard them and understood.

It also shows your teen that you care.

If you think this type of listening may not come to you easily, then practice.  

Try calming the mind chatter when talking to a co-worker or asking for meaning from a friend.  

Having a close and honest relationship with your teen is not impossible, it just takes effort.  

Make a discussion about birth control options part of that effort.  

We are here to help with free educational programs for adults and teens.  

Spend an hour with us at our Lunch-n-Learn session to find out more about A Step Ahead Foundation. Register for this free event here.  This one-hour session for adults is an overview of who we are and how we serve the Memphis and Shelby County community.

 

For teens and preteens, we offer free sessions we customize for you that include topics from general hygiene and self-esteem to abstinence planning and effective birth control options. 

 

Learn more about how our Girl Talk and Guy Talk programs can help your teen plan their lives and their futures while avoiding unplanned pregnancies. 

 

Listen is the third blog in the four-part Talking LALA series which stands for Learn, Ask, Listen, and Act. 

The LALA series helps influencers like grandparents, aunts, uncles and other trusted adults discuss birth control with teenagers. 

Are you a great listener. Do you have some tips to share to help others? I would love to hear from you.  Email me your comments to deborah [at] astepaheadfoundation [dot] org!

LALA Series- ASK

Copy Of Clean Work Place Blog Banner 1

Talking LALA: What Grands and Aunties Need to Know About Teens and Birth Control

Step Two: Ask  

Having the role of wise elder to a younger generation obviously means you need some receipts, right?

How else will they know you are wise if you aren’t talking, giving suggestions, and stating facts you learned back in the old days?

You know the old days when you didn’t carry your phone around in your hand all day because it was in the hall at home.

Clearly receipts are needed to confirm your wisdom.

But here’s the thing. 

As a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or other trusted adult in the life of a teen, you have an opportunity to build a strong relationship that is based on honest conversation. 

Not just you talking and them possibly not listening.

No lecturing or preaching, just talking.

This blog is the second in the four part Talking LALA series. 

LALA means Learn, Ask, Listen and Act. 

The LALA series helps influencers like you discuss birth control with teenagers.

With teens and young adults, there are two topics not to be taken lightly: education and birth control.  

You know from your own life that there is a direct connection between choices today and consequences tomorrow. 

Your teen’s options and opportunities in life are tied to what they do today.  

How hard they study or practice affects their grades and options for school.  

The choices they make about birth control affect their opportunities for the future as well.

Would I be right to guess that school is an easier topic for conversation than birth control?  

I’ve got some tips to share that may make the birth control conversation slightly less awkward and more honest.

The upside is discussing real-life topics like birth control can make your relationship closer and stronger. 

Learn First

Start by doing your work.  

Educate yourself. 

If you want to help shape how your teen understands their world including birth control options, get educated. 

The first blog in the Talking LALA series focuses on learning about the most popular birth control options. Scroll down to read more about LEARN. 

Birth control can lead to questions about sex education, which is admittedly a big and possibly quite uncomfortable topic. 

However, you are not studying to become a sex education teacher.

You simply want to be a well-informed adult who knows about birth control options.

If you want in-depth health-related classes for your teen, click here to learn about the programs for preteens, teens, and young adults that A Step Ahead Foundation offers free of charge. 

Ask Second

"I want my parents to ask me about my day and care about what I answer."

A young person in a focus group studying communication made this comment.   

The research shows that this is true. 

What most young people want is to have an important adult in their life who is curious about them.

They want you to show you care by asking them what they think.

So, the second thing that will help is to sincerely ask your teen what they think. 

How to Ask

Full disclaimer: There is a great possibility, however, your teen does not want you to ask them about birth control.  

Fortunately for everyone you did not get to be wise by taking the easy road.

Research shows us that influencers like a grandparent or other trusted adults often have more credibility than a primary parent.  

The hitch comes when those influencers shy away from using that credibility to address topics that might be uncomfortable.  

Misinformation about birth control can have serious consequences. 

You won’t know if your teen has correct information until you ask.

There are two simple questions to ask: what and why.

‘What’ and ‘why’ questions will always get the conversation started and keep it moving.

There are several ways to use what and why questions, here are two to consider.

1.     Start with “What do you think about…..”

2.     Follow-up with “Why do you say so?”

This is simple and to the point.

Here are a few examples of what and why in action.

  • “School and birth control are two really important things I want us to talk about. What do you think about that?”

If the response is “oh no…” or “finally!” ask the universal follow-up question, “Why do you say so?”

  •  “You have heard somethings about sex I am sure. I want you to be safe and have correct information. What do you think about us talking about sex and what it means to be safe from unplanned pregnancy?” 

 

  • “There have been times when I have been judgmental. I know that could stop you from talking about birth control with me.  What do you think about us talking about what it means to be safe from unplanned pregnancy? I promise not to judge you.” 

There is no one best question to ask because each teen is different.  

However, starting with ‘what do you think’ is a great way to begin a sincere conversation.

The most important thing is that you ask and keep asking and following-up. 

Your care and concern mean more than you might believe in the moment. 

We have lots of other important tips to share on how to talk to your teen about birth control. 

Click here to get more about starting that conversation. 

   

This blog is the second in the four part Talking LALA series.

LALA stands for  Learn, Ask, Listen and Act. 

The LALA series helps influencers like grandparents, aunts, uncles and other trusted adults discuss birth control with teenagers.

Do you have some great conversation starters you want to share?

 I would love to hear from you.  Send me your comments at deborah [at] astepaheadfoundation [dot] org

 

LALA Series- LEARN

LALA Image 1

Talking LALA: What Grands, Aunties and Other Influencers Need to Know About Teens and Birth Control

 

Step One: Learn

Do you remember when the whole neighborhood had a hand in raising you?

Play aunts on porches and distant cousins mowing yards all kept an eye on you. 

They were part of the village that was there for you when a parent could not be.

These days are not that different.

When parents are not available for their teens, extended family, or a trusted adult may step in.

This blog is the first in the four-part Talking LALA series. 

LALA stands for Learn, Ask, Listen, and Act. 

The LALA series helps influencers like you discuss birth control with your teenagers.

Maybe you are needed to step-in for a day or week or a month or even years.   

As life happens you may find yourself  ‘parenting’ a teen or young adult.  

You may want to shy away from it but talking about birth control will definitely be required.



 Get the Connection

Are you shaking your head no right now? You are not alone.

Though research shows that over 70% of grandparents enjoy their role as a source of wisdom, talking about sex is out of their comfort zone.

The good news is that when you are comfortable with what you want to say your teen will likely listen to you.   

A strong majority of teens report that their parents were the biggest influencers of their sexual education. 

Standing in the role of a parent or trusted adult, you have the chance to have more than just talk about birth control. You can create a connection between choices about birth control now and plans for the future.

The bonus for you is being someone a teen can talk to honestly bonds your connection more deeply than your title in the family. 

Yes, it may feel uncomfortable at first but imagine moving from talking to real conversations to life-changing action. It’s worth it.

Get Comfortable Learning

What can you do to help your teen connect their choices today with their plans for the future?

First, get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Birth control is clearly a part of sex education. Sex education can cover subjects from puberty to gender roles to sexual behavior.

You don’t have to be comfortable with all those topics to be helpful.

Just narrow your focus to birth control.  

Do you know the different birth control options that are available today?

Now is the time for you to start learning. 

Here are a few of the most popular methods you need to 

·   Abstinence is 100% effective in preventing unplanned pregnancy.

·   Condoms help prevent 98% of sexually transmitted infections but only 85% of pregnancies.

·   Birth control pills taken at the same time every day are 91% effective at preventing pregnancy.

·   Vaginal insert rings used monthly are 91% effective at preventing pregnancy.

·   Shots of hormones repeated every 86 days are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

·   Long-acting reversible contraception methods are 99% effective and last 3 to 10 years.

The most effective methods of pregnancy prevention are abstinence and long-acting reversible contraception.

These two methods do not require daily, weekly, or monthly action but they do need planning.

 

Get Planning

Abstinence planning is real.

This method of birth control may be the one that appeals to you the most.

However, the best time to talk about birth control is when it isn’t needed.

At some point, it likely will be needed and you want to be ready.

Any abstinence plan should have at the top of the list what abstinence means to your teen.

Don’t assume you know. Talk about it.

The plan should also have a clear path to highly effective contraception so your teen can be safe and responsible if they no longer want to be abstinent. 

Long-Acting Reversible Contraception planning is real.

Good for you if your teen is the type who never forgets or loses anything. However, teens who experience brain fog  are more like the norm.

Brain fog is part of regular brain development for teens. This fog can cause your teen to be forgetful, lose everything, or even make emotional decisions without considering the consequences.

Taking birth control regularly and responsibly may be something that slips into the fog and puts your teen at risk for an unplanned pregnancy.

Long-acting reversible methods make it easy to prevent an unplanned pregnancy by offering protection that lasts for several years after only one doctor’s visit.

Your teen can get a long-acting reversible contraception method free through A Step Ahead Foundation. Visit http://www.astepaheadfoundation.org/services/ to learn more. 

Once you learn about birth control options you can start the conversation.  Get comfortable, so you can help your teen create the connection between choices about birth control now and plans for the future.

 ----

This blog is the first in the four-part Talking LALA series. 

LALA stands for Learn, Ask, Listen, and Act. 

The LALA series helps influencers like you discuss birth control with your teenagers.

If you have already had the honor of talking about birth control with the teen in your life, let me know how it went. Are you thinking it is time to have that talk or maybe a refresher is needed? I am happy to get your questions! Email me at deborah [at] astepaheadfoundation [dot] org