As a parent, it's tough to decide whether to give birth control to your sexually active teenager. Even though birth control is a proven method for preventing sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy, some parents struggle with moral and ethical implications surrounding the issue. There are advantages and disadvantages to providing birth control, so parents should consider birth control options, alternative choices and long-term benefits before making a final decision.
Providing birth control for your child is advantageous when your teen is sexually active with more than one partner or with a partner who isn't a virgin. A single act of sexual intercourse can lead to a sexually transmitted disease infection, according to the WebMD site. Some forms of contraception, such as the birth control pill, don't prevent STDs, but the effective use of condoms does. You must educate your teenager on the various types of birth control and stress the importance of those that help prevent disease. Teenagers don't always think before they act and may get into a situation where they're unprepared and unwilling to forgo unprotected sex. Disease prevention is a good reason to give your sexually active teenager birth control.
One of the biggest benefits to giving your teenager birth control is preventing unwanted pregnancy. Most teenagers aren't old enough or mature enough to handle the responsibility of parenthood, so birth control reduces the likelihood that your teen will get pregnant. However, many teens don't know how to properly use over-the-counter birth control, and some birth control methods require a prescription. If you choose to provide birth control, take your female teen to a medical professional. If your teen is a male, give him clear instructions on birth control methods or provide him with literature and websites that offer sufficient instruction.
Even though giving birth control to a teen is often a responsible decision, it can have negative consequences. For some teens -- knowing that they aren't at as much risk for sexually transmitted diseases and that pregnancy risks are greatly reduced -- birth control encourages promiscuous behavior. Teens who may have otherwise practiced abstinence, now have a reason to become sexually active. Birth control also poses moral concerns for religious families. Some parents are outright against birth control for ethical reasons, according to a parenting article on the Psychology Today website.
A negative to giving your teen birth control is the mixed message you might be sending. As a parent, you want to stress the importance of love, commitment, respect and responsible behavior when it comes to relationships. Someday your teen might become a husband or a wife, and you don't want your child to have a confused view of sex and marriage. When you give a teenager birth control, you're condoning sexual behavior, without knowing whether your teen has a healthy relationship -- outside of sex -- with the other person. Talk to your teen about healthy relationships before you condone sexual activity.