|Let’s Talk Month: A Teen Mom’s Perspective|
by Natasha Vianna
There is no such thing as an unneeded conversation between parents and their children. Some discussions may seem tough to initiate and some may seem unnecessary. Yet, we find that these very discussions can actually educate our children and empower them to make great decisions in life. Talking can seem like a simple concept but certain topics may feel really intimidating. Luckily, October is “Let’s Talk Month”, a month of exploring discussion methods and highlighting the importance of sexual education.
A parent may not always know when a child needs a talk. No one thought I needed to learn anything about sexual relationships when I was younger. No one assumed “it” was an issue in my life. Yet at the age of seventeen, I became a mother. My family did not think this would happen to me and there were no “signs” of the life I was going to live. While I have embraced and adored my role as a young parent, I know that there were many times when I needed more information, guidance, and open discussions with my parents about sexuality.
Becoming a teen parent has been a challenging new role but the more interesting task of educating my daughter now arises. As a mother, I know I am here to communicate with her in an open honest manner about every aspect of sexuality. As a parent, I know I play a pivotal role in helping my daughter make healthy decisions about her body and sex. And because I am still so young and vividly remember my younger years, I know that parents are perfectly capable of being the best sex educators. I wish mine were.
In my case, my parents felt uncomfortable having conversations about sex. I sensed it every time my mother talked to me about dating. My father didn’t talk about sex and my mother simply told me not to have sex. Yet, my brother was handed condoms regularly. I was left with a book on the male and female anatomies. This is how I learned where reproductive organs were located and the science behind reproduction. However, no one ever talked to me about personal and emotional relationships, media presentations for sexual involvement, or the social pressure of sexual relationships. I know this wasn’t the reason I became pregnant but it played an important role in how I perceived sex, relationships, and how I practiced safe sex. Having parents who I felt “would never understand” or “would flip if I told them I was having sex” made me feel like I had to make these decisions on my own. Unfortunately, I didn’t have all the tools I needed to make the best choices for myself.
A few years ago, I realized it was my turn to start building a trusting relationship with my child; one that could blossom into a relationship. Today, I focus on understanding her world, listening, and keeping the lines of communication open. As scary as it may seem, at the age of six she has already started asking questions about sexuality, dating, and the dynamics of relationships. While some may be intimidated by such talks, it feels amazing to know she can come to me when she has a question. As we build this beautiful relationship, I know I can tell her how I feel about love, how to understand emotions, what sex really is, and what relationships may or may not bring.
Before I could be this trusting person to her, I knew I had to educate myself. My job is to be able to respond to her questions with loving support and knowledge. Most importantly, my priority is to ensure that my daughter matures with the agency to make informed decisions about her body on her own. As a teen mom raising a little girl, I have a duty to ensure she is educated better than I was, supported better than I was, and listened to better than I was if I want her to make positive decisions. I know I won’t be there to help her make every decision but I would like to know I gave her all the tools she needed to make the right choices when she’s alone.