Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Teen Pregnancy

How To Survive Your Teen's Pregnancy:
Practical Advice for the Parents of a Pregnant Christian Single

by Linda Ellen Perry and Lynellen D.S. Perry
This is the Second Edition of "How To Survive Your Teen's Pregnancy", released in December 2007. Written in a devotional format, the author uses her 17+ years of pregnancy center counseling experience to lovingly address the issues facing the parents of a pregnant single young woman under the age of 25. Real-life stories, practical help, and creative activities provide Biblical insights for successfully navigating the difficult situation of her pregnancy. (192 pages).
I had opportunity to preview this book and thought that, rather than sharing my thoughts on the  book, it might be more effective to share an interview with the author.  Lynellen Perry was kind enough to answer my questions.  I hope that, through reading her answers, you will feel more knowledgeable about teen pregnancy and will think about what you might be able to do to help combat this problem.  I know that this isn't a "fun" topic to discuss, but it's a reality;  because of that, we not only need to be aware, but proactive. 
HEIDI: Lynellen, thanks so much for taking the time to visit with me and my readers here at Reviews by Heidi.  I’ve looked over your book~ How to Survive Your Teen’s Pregnancy: Practical Advice for the Parents of a Pregnant Christian Single~ and would love to ask you a few questions……
First of all, what prompted the writing of this book?
LYNELLEN:  My mother, Linda Perry, and I have been active in the pro-life movement for decades.  Currently my mom is the Executive Director of Assist Pregnancy Center in Northern Virginia, and I work there too.  We developed this book over the last 15 years as we worked with so many families who discovered their single daughter was pregnant.  They all felt so alone and didn’t know where to find resources to help them.  We wrote this book so that families facing the shock of their daughter’s pregnancy would be able to find their way even if they didn’t live near a pregnancy resource center.
HEIDI: I think that so many of us, as Christians, often think “that would never happen to MY daughter”.  But, the sad reality is that pregnancy does indeed happen to Christian teens.  Can you share some statistics with us?  Are there any statistics directly related to Christian teen pregnancies?
LYNELLEN:  The Center for Disease Control notes that births to single mothers (of all ages, not just teens) reached a record high in 2005 and that 36.8% of all children born in America are born outside of marriage.  Also in 2005, almost 343,000 teens (aged 15-19) gave birth, but this number doesn’t count the teens under the age of 15 who gave birth, and it doesn’t make a distinction between the teens that are single and those that are married.  According to, about 750,000 teen girls get pregnant each year, so we see that about half of the girls who get pregnant each year are choosing abortion instead of giving birth to their baby.  If you can believe the statistics from the Alan Guttmacher Institute (which is run by pro-abortion Planned Parenthood), about 43% of women having an abortion each year claim to be Protestant on their intake form and another 27% claim to be Catholic.  We can guess that the statistics for religion and teen pregnancy would fall into the same broad ranges but I don’t know of any studies that specifically give this information.  At any rate, it is very clear that the reality is that both pregnancy and abortion can be found in a lot of Christian homes with teens and college students.
HEIDI: Because I haven’t been in this situation, I haven’t gone looking for a book on this topic; but I know that it’s often hard to find books about controversial or touchy subjects that are actually written from a Christian perspective. Could you share with us a few of the questions that are answered in the pages of this book?
LYNELLEN:  We tried to cover a lot of different scenarios in the book.  There are so many different decisions that must be researched and prayed about!  We know that families are making decisions on giving birth vs abortion, parenting vs adoption, marriage vs remaining single, continuing school vs employment, and lots of other topics.  Some of the questions you’ll see in the table of contents include:
“What should I say and do when I first hear the news?” 
“How will my church respond?”
“Where is God in all of this?”
“What is my daughter feeling?”
“Where does the baby’s father belong in all of this?”
“Should they marry?”
“Should my daughter parent alone?”
“Should my daughter make an adoption plan?”
“Should we adopt the baby?”
HEIDI: I love the format of this book.  The chapters are brief and the chapter titles are direct and to-the-point, so the reader can easily find what she is looking for, if she chooses not to read straight through the book.  I really appreciate the encouragement to journal, and the question and writing prompts that are given.  Do you find that putting answers on paper tends to help people open up more with their feelings?
LYNELLEN:  We love short chapters, too!  That way you don’t become overwhelmed with information, and when you’re stressed it can be hard to read a lot at one sitting.  We all need bite sized information in a crisis.  In our peer counseling experience, journaling helps people clarify their thoughts and feelings.  Speaking doesn’t give you the same kind of internal reflection nor the chance to review your words later.  Writing is slower than speaking and you tend to choose your words differently.  Having a record of your thoughts and feelings that can be reviewed later also helps you to do further processing that you weren’t able to do at the time that you were consumed by emotion.  We especially encourage people to write out their prayer requests so that they can later write down the results of that prayer.  If prayer requests are verbal only, it is too easy to forget that the prayer has been answered and fail to thank God for His answer.
HEIDI: I am the mother of a 14 year old daughter and the teacher of the junior high Sunday school class at my church.  I know a lot of my readers have teenage daughters as well. Can you give us some ideas of things we can do and/or say to help promote abstinence, purity, etc.
LYNELLEN:  A government health survey in 2003 - 2004 by Sara Forhan of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly 3 million teenage girls have at least one STD. Among African American teens, the percentage is even higher: almost half of the young women have an STD.  So abstinence is something the church needs to talk about. We can’t let the school system and the popular culture be the only voice talking about sex.  God created sex to be a good thing and He has rules that protect sex. 
So what can you do? First, pray.  Pray with your child out loud before they go on a date.  Pray for them while they are out on their dates.
Next, people of all ages should learn about the differences between love and infatuation.  Our culture thinks that the rush of romantic emotion and hormones means they are in love and therefore it’s okay to express that feeling with sex.  Love as presented in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, for example) urges us to respect each other and ourselves, and to follow the rules set out by the Creator of sex which include waiting until marriage.
Discuss dating rules with your teen that put a severe limit on the possibility of temptation.  For example, teens should not spend time alone together in private.  Meet the people your child is dating and meet their families too.  Do not permit your minor son or daughter to date someone significantly older or younger (3+ years) than they are. For example, college students and adults should not be dating high school students in general.   Set and enforce curfews.  Know where your child will be going on a date and what activities will occur.  Brainstorm ways your child can say no to foreplay so as to stay away from the temptation of sex.  Be a chaperone at school activities.  With your teen, review their closet and see if the clothing they wear sends sexy signals or if it reflects a Godly modesty.  Talk with your child about staying away from drugs and alcohol, which cloud thinking and can lead them to do things they wouldn’t normally do.
Talk with your teens about the following.  Doctor Joe S. McIlhaney, of the Medical Institue for Sexual Health ( emphasizes the following facts:
  1. Sexually active adolescents, both boys and girls, are far likelier to be depressed and to attempt suicide than those still virgins.
  2. The majority of adolescents who become sexually active frequently change sexual partners and will have more sexual partners in their lifetime. This puts them at greater risk for acquiring a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
  3. STDs are epidemic among adolescents. About 50% of sexually active adolescents are infected with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV causes 99% of cervical cancer and 99% of truly abnormal pap smears. This cancer causes about as many deaths among women as AIDS.
  4. 10% of sexually active teens are infected with Chlamydia, a major cause of infertility.
  5. 20% of sexually active teens are infected with Herpes, a life-long disabling problem.
  6. The National Institutes of Health and other sources note that condoms have limited value in reducing STD risk. Condoms, if used 100% of the time, reduce the risk of HIV by 85%; but only reduce the infection rate of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Herpes by 50%.
  7. Condoms do not reduce the infection risk at all for HPV, the most common STD for adolescents.
  8. 66% of sexually active teens wish they had waited!
There are tons of resources at the Abstinence Clearinghouse (  Read some books together with your teen and discuss purity and modesty.  Many pregnancy resource centers also have educational videos and abstinence presentation teams… invite them to give a presentation at your church’s youth group or at a Bible study, or take your teen to the pregnancy resource center to view some films and receive private abstinence counseling.
HEIDI:  Sadly, for some teens, it may be too late.  How can we, as Christians and part of a church body, reach out to these girls and their families?
LYNELLEN:  According to the statistics, many teens and college students have already had sex outside marriage.  Sexual integrity is every bit as important for men as for women, so we need to reach out not only to girls and their families but also to boys.  The message of the church should be not only abstainence for singles, but on well-rounded sexual integrity for people of all ages and marital status.
It often appears that churches and Christian schools are more severe on women who sin sexually than on men.  Sometimes churches also punish parents who are in leadership positions when their child sins sexually, and this can lead girls to have a secret abortion in order to save their parent’s job or reputation.  These policies should be evaluated.  The church needs to learn how to heal these wounded people, not simply condemn the sin and shun the sinner.  God does not rank sins in order of ‘badness’.  Sexual sin is no more sinful than ‘simple’ lying, and lying is equally offensive to God as murder.  The ground at the foot of the Cross is level and we are all equally sinful in God’s eyes.  All of our sins, sexual or not, require us to acknowledge that we did something wrong, confess this wrongdoing to God and ask forgiveness, accept His forgiveness, and make choices to avoid the same sins again.  Churches can support sexual integrity by talking about purity for all from the pulpit, offering sexual integrity education to people of all ages, and by evaluating their single’s programs to see if they have devolved into ‘meat markets’ where people are evaluated only by looks, not character.  Finally, churches can encourage accountability groups and mentoring to help all their members live more consistent lives.
To reach out to your own children, talk with your child about your own sins.  If you have behaved in an ungodly way toward your child, confess this to them and ask their forgiveness.  Get your sexually active child medical attention to test for STDs.  Your child may need peer counseling or professional counseling to help them recover from emotional and spiritual wounds received during their sexual activity.  If your child has been involved in an abortion, they will definitely require counseling to recover from that trauma and you may find that you need recovery counseling as well.  Repeatedly tell your child that you love them as a person and as your child even while you don’t like their choices.
HEIDI:  I so appreciate your writing this book.  I feel that it is a book that needs to be part of every church’s library, and I’ll be sure to give my copy to my own church!  Where can people purchase the book?
LYNELLEN:  We agree that this book is an excellent resource for every church library.  Thanks for passing your copy along to your own church!  People can buy their own copy from, direct from the publisher at, or any other bookstore that processes special orders.  The publisher is working on a digital format of the book and is also having it translated into Spanish.  We also hope to soon be finished with a companion version of the book that is for the pregnant young lady herself.
HEIDI: Again thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.  That’s all from me.  Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us?
LYNELLEN:  I would encourage parents to realize that a pregnancy outside of marriage is not the end of the world.  There are resources that can help families find hope.  This trial can end up strengthening the family if they allow God to work in their lives.  Thank you for the thoughtful questions, Heidi!

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