Last week I found myself in a car dealership looking at cars since I’m thinking of passing my old Toyota on to one of my daughters. In making small talk with the salesman, he asked what I do. I laughed and said I have an odd job: I talk to teens about sex, dating and relationships, and help them think through their choices, so they can have the future they hope for. This young man nodded knowingly, and said “I was a Prom baby.” He went on to explain how his Mom was on track to graduate with honors and get into a great college. But that cute, hot football player…well, things just happened. I asked if she ever went to college. He said no, and that after a shotgun wedding and two other children, his parents divorced. Sadly, his sister is now a single parent, having gotten pregnant before college as well.
This is an increasingly common story. Forbes magazine recently noted: “Turn back the clock 30 years, and less than 20% of births occurred outside marriage. Today the rate is 41%.” When I talk to teens, I always point out what a heroic job single parents are doing, and that it’s really, really tough to do what is really a two-person job. As outlined in the Forbes magazine article, by almost any measure single parenthood is tough, and children growing up in single parent homes have an uphill battle, more likely to experience lower education levels, poorer paying jobs, poverty, and becoming a single parent as well.
As parents, whether or not we found ourselves on that road, we hope for a different path for our precious sons and daughters. Indeed, a reminder of the difficulties of parenting at a young age, often alone, is enough to spur us on in our quest to help our teens choose abstinence.
Action Idea: Look for a chance to discuss the difficulties of single parents the next time your child comes home with a story about someone getting pregnant, or when your teen watches “Sixteen and Pregnant” or similar shows on TV.