Jamie Lynn Spears' pregnancy gives Moms an opportunity to talk to tweens.
Tween fans of Zoey 101 surfing the Web for info on their hero today are going to get more than they bargained for when they find out that 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant. Even if you don't plan to share this sensitive information with your tween, she'll likely hear about it on the radio, Internet, or from her friends. So, what should you do when your tween finds out that her favorite teen star is now a mom-to-be?
Sabrina Weill, mom of two and author of The Real Truth about Teens and Sex, offers the following three pointers:
1. THE TIP: It's important to make the gravity of the situation feel real for your tween.
It's very difficult for teens and tweens to grasp the concept of consequences. It makes it even harder when they see people they look up to, like Jamie Lynn, getting pregnant--especially when it doesn't seem like the consequences for them are so bad. Asking your tween some tough questions will help her look at this situation in a different light.
• How do you think Jamie Lynn felt when she had to tell her Mom she was pregnant?
• How do you think she felt when she had to tell her friends?
• How do you think her boyfriend felt telling his parents that he got his girlfriend pregnant?
• How do you think she feels about taking on the responsibility of caring for a new baby?
• How do you think her boyfriend feels knowing that he and his family will be financially responsible for supporting another life, starting now?
• If this happened to one of your friends at school, how would the situation be different from Jamie Lynn's?
How would it be the same?
WHY IT WORKS: Answering questions like these will help tweens understand that what they're hearing in the media is not the entire story. Jamie Lynn and her family are likely having many conversations behind closed doors and experiencing a lot of heartache over this pregnancy that the public is simply not privy to. You don't want to panic or scare your child, but you want to help them view the situation realistically.
2. THE TIP: Make sure your tween knows she can come to you no matter what.
Most importantly, you need to let your tween know you would be there for her in a similar situation--and that you would want her to talk to you first.
THE SCRIPT: "I
will always love you, and I will always listen to you. If you or your
friends are in a situation you can't handle--like you're sexually
active, or you become pregnant--I would want you to come to me first.
Your well-being is what's most important to me."
WHY IT WORKS: These words let you share your expectations and values with your tween while still keeping the lines of communication open. If she feels like she can always come to you, you're less likely to be surprised by any unexpected news or announcements, like Jamie Lynn's mother Lynne Spears was. Many teens and tweens feel like their Mom would kill them if they got pregnant. The truth is, you'd probably be disappointed, but you'd still want to be the first to know. It's important that she understands this.
3. THE TIP: Keep the conversation going.
Jamie Lynn's pregnancy is all over the news today, but it will likely garner less and less media attention as the days and weeks go on. However, this will probably remain front-page news for your tween for a while.
THE SCRIPT: "Hey, I heard some of the Moms at drop-off talking about Jamie Lynn. Are your friends still talking about it?"
WHY IT WORKS: As
the conversation about Jamie Lynn evolves, your tween's questions will
too. By keeping the conversation alive you can make sure you answer any
questions she has and squelch any misconceptions she may be picking up
from friends at school.
Of course, these conversations can be awkward, but unfortunately tweens are already having conversations and hearing rumors about sex--it's key that one of the voices they hear be one they can trust the most: their parents.
Will you talk to your tween about Jamie Lynn's pregnancy? Comment now.