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December 20, 2007 - Betsy Bethel
The media is abuzz about Jamie Lynn Spears' pregnancy announcement, with several outlets tagging it as "shocking."
I don't know about you, but I did not so much as blink when I learned that Britney "Worst Teen Idol EVER" Spears' little sister has been having sex with her boyfriend and wound up pregnant.
Yes, I know Jamie's only 16, but anyone who's shocked that a 16-year-old celebutante is sexually active needs his head checked. In fact, the statistics show a small percentage (about 15 percent) of adults in 2007 reported they had sex before they were 15, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.
It's interesting to note that about the same percentage (16 percent) abstained from sexual relations until they were 21 or older.
A little more alarming is this statement from the vice president of marketing for LifeStyles Condoms (capitalizing on the Spears' situation with a timely press release): "By the time teens reach the age of 19, seven out of 10 have had sex, and only 20 percent use condoms or some form of birth control.”
If nothing else, the announcement that Nickelodeon's "Zoey" is having a baby in real life will serve as a springboard to discuss the birds and the bees with your 'tweens. Don't put it off, folks. And don't stop talking about it; it should not be a one-time conversation. Keep the lines of communication open. At the same time, discuss alcohol and drug use, and peer pressure, and self-respect -- all things that contribute to sexual activity among 'tweens and teens.
Despite your best efforts, however, your youngster may decide to do "it" anyway. If she or he does, make sure they know you are there to help and guide them, not judge and punish them.
And, please, make sure they know the importance of using birth control. By all means, provide it, if you have to! People complain about schools providing condoms, but they wouldn't have to if parents weren't sticking their heads in the sand.
As for Jamie, although she has a tough row to hoe, I pray she makes better decisions than Big Sis going forward.
P.S. As for Jamie and Britney's mother and the news that her parenting book ("Pop Culture Mom: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World") has been put on hold indefinitely ... all I have to say is: Bummer. There are plenty of parenting guides out there on how to be a good parent, but I was looking forward to reading this one so I know what NOT to do. ;)
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