‘My 14-year-old son is girl crazy and I am concerned about being a grandmother!  I’ve had the safe sex talk with him and know that he has had it in school too, but I’m uneasy.  Please help.’

Research shows that the number one predictor that an adolescent will have sex is having a girlfriend or a boyfriend.  Certainly, without having a paramour, an adolescent may have sex, but it decreases the recurring likelihood.  So, if you don’t want babies, don’t let your son have a girlfriend.  Easier said than done, right?  Well, that depends on you and your expectations.  If you raise your son with the idea that he will not be able to date until a certain age (and you have power over this) then he will have difficulty doing so.  Also, a key issue that does not get enough attention is supervision.  Youth (all of us, actually) behave differently when we know others are watching. 

The more adult supervision your son has, the less opportunities he has for engaging in sex that will lead to pregnancy.  Supervision can be provided by coaches, teachers and staff in afterschool programs, employment, volunteer projects, family members.  The difficulty is that with hectic work schedules and school schedules that do not coincide with each other it is challenging to ensure consistent supervision of your teen.  It is common for adolescents to be home without supervision for 3-5 hours.  No supervision provides opportunities for you to be a grandparent.  One of the consequences of cutbacks in social programming is that children have less supervision through community centers and afterschool programs. 

Yan Searcy is an associate professor in the Departments of Social Work and Sociology at Chicago State University where he has taught for the past 16 years.  His areas of research and practice include child and adolescent welfare and urban social policy.  He is a proud husband and father of two! Need parenting advice? Email yan[email protected] and your questions may appear in future column!