You want to train your teen to have thoughtful conversations on difficult cultural topics. One marked by compassion and kindness.
Overturning Roe v. Wade is the result of a nearly 50-year effort committed to a singular outcome – protecting the lives of preborn humans. Without debate, this decision will carry profound political, social, and personal effects regarding pro-life topics throughout our culture.
Legality aside, the complexity of conversations about abortion and the pro-life movement is intimidating for anyone. However, situations like the overturning of Roe v. Wade present an especially complicated environment for teenagers.
Amid the steep learning curve of legislative jargon and American history, the monumental act of overturning a landmark case demands much of our teens. In a world marked by divisive morality, a teenager’s friendships, popularity, and seemingly, his or her future, depends on opinions about deeply complex issues like abortion.
Culture persuades our teens to manufacture alliances to a disconnected web of social issues that are often far more convoluted than simply saying yes or no. That’s why it’s vital for teens to develop their ability to have thoughtful conversations with their peers. Even when the conversations are intimidating, confusing, and potentially harmful to their future.
There’s an opportunity right now. One that places the future generations at the center of the conversation. It’s never been more important for our teens to take initiative and develop their worldview regarding the topic of abortion and protecting preborn children.
What Your Teens Need to Know Now That Roe V. Wade is Overturned
Before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, abortion was legal for anyone in the United States, including teenagers. Now that Roe is gone, the legality of abortion is in the hands of each of the 50 states and their respective lawmakers.
In some states where abortion will remain legal, parental permission for anyone under age 18 is required. In states where abortion after a detected heartbeat is illegal, teenagers desiring abortions will likely seek treatment in another state. This will require extensive travel, medical care, and in some cases quite a bit of time away.
What Does This Mean For Teenagers?
If your teen wasn’t already having conversations about abortion and the pro-life movement, they’re about to have more conversations than ever before. According to research within the past 5 years, those conversations will likely take place online more often than they occur in person.
Also, your teens might start to notice the increase in a trend predicted by many education agencies: high school dropout rate. As documented by a 2015 study looking at pre-Roe v. Wade America, “unwed pregnant teens who gave birth were 16% more likely to dop out of high school compared to those who miscarried.”
A return to this statistic could mean a few things. First, teenagers might start to notice classmates disappearing from class for an extended period of time due to abortion recovery and travel to an abortion-legal state. Secondly, if an unwed pregnant teen chooses life instead of abortion, teenagers might see a rise in the number of their peers with children at a young age.
Either hypothetical scenario carries a long list of specific and unique circumstances. But each is certainly a realistic outcome due to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. It’s worth noting that until America settles following Roe, what will happen is still only speculation. That’s why it’s far more important to equip your teens with tools to have conversations about abortion and pro-life topics for the foreseeable future.
When we discuss culture and our teenagers, our attention usually diverts to the messages our kids hear. Namely, we focus on the nearly universal use of the internet and social media. This constant use fundamentally affects our teenagers’ views and opinions about topics like abortion, Roe v. Wade, and the pro-life movement.
I still remember the first time I learned about abortion. I was a teenager. What started as a normal conversation with my friends quickly morphed into something unfamiliar. I didn’t know half the words that my friends did. I didn’t know what to say or how to respond. But I quickly observed that I had to have an answer to one critical question.
Do you think abortion is right or wrong?
In that moment when I had to answer, right or wrong, I felt the weight of my decision. Would I still be liked? Who would view me differently? Would I lose friends? What if I say the wrong thing? Is there more to this than simply right or wrong?
These are only some of the questions that teenagers will continue to face now that Roe v. Wade is overturned. As parents, you have the opportunity and responsibility to show your kids that there’s more to conversations about abortion and the pro-life movement than simply right or wrong.
How Teens Can Be Different in These Conversations
Dr. Danny Huerta, Vice President of Parenting and Youth, notes that the teenage years occupy a space for rapid development in a child’s life. Specifically, for his or her mind. With this, you’ve probably started to notice a change in your teen’s opinions.
Your daughter is growing in her ability to communicate and think critically. Your son is doing the same. Both teen boys and girls are learning how to argue and express themselves in ways that can perpetuate unhealthy habits or support healthy behaviors.
In conversations with peers, this newfound ability to debate and argue can be dangerous for the future of friendships. When volatile topics like abortion and the pro-life movement are the center of the conversation, it’s important to help your teens. Aid your teen in reframing his or her view from a debate to a conversation. Your teen doesn’t have to win for the conversation to be a success.
Explore some other tips for helping your teen navigate difficult conversations about abortion and the pro-life movement.
In these conversations, it’s easy to get caught in the superficiality of the news, hypothetical situations, and logic. These are the elements of debate and argument. However, you want to train your teen to have a thoughtful conversation. One marked by compassion and kindness.
To help your teen prioritize his or her friendships over being right or winning, teach them to go deeper about pro-life topics. People usually speak from a place of hurt, knowledge, or personal experience. This is especially true in conversations like abortion and the pro-life movement.
Encourage your teen to avoid spending his or her time arguing facts and politics with peers. Instead, help them to approach these conversations with his or her friends’ hearts and hurts in mind. Guide your teen in his or her ability to care for hurting friends rather than winning arguments.
Know Your Facts
That being said, it is important for your teen to know his or her facts regarding abortion and the pro-life movement. For extensive insight involving terminology, relevant research, and more, check out these Focus on the Family resources.
- Pro-Life and Pro-Choice: What Does It Mean? – focusonthefamily.com/pro-life/pro-life-pro-choice/
- Overturning Roe V. Wade: Laws that Hurt Women – focusonthefamily.com/pro-life/overturning-roe-v-wade-laws-that-hurt-women/
- Abortion Pros and Cons: 5 Pro-Life Arguments – focusonthefamily.com/pro-life/abortion-pros-and-cons-5-pro-life-arguments/
Spend More Time Asking Questions Than Providing Answers
The power of asking questions can never be underestimated. When flanked by dissenters and hate, Jesus often asked questions rather than providing direct answers.
Asking questions can be especially useful for teens in situations that involve a particularly passionate or angry peer. Rather than attempting to convince a friend in a quick five-point soliloquy, teens can turn to asking questions.
The right string of questions can unlock a hidden world within a conversation. Also, questions communicate care when paired with active listening. On topics like abortion and the pro-life movement, listening will be instrumental for teens caught within difficult conversations.
Learn to Serve – Then Invite Friends
Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) are still emerging in popularity and viability. It’d be difficult to find a more robust and mother-first entity designed for pregnant women. With a specific focus on single or teen women, most PRCs offer a variety of classes and medical care to pregnant women.
PRCs don’t receive government funding. So, their livelihood depends on the financial donations from supporters across the U.S. However, service in PRCs doesn’t end with simply donating money.
Teens can volunteer at PRCs to help with anything from writing notes of encouragements to expecting mothers to organizing donations of baby-clothes and diapers. Most high schools require an amount of community service hours. For teens, serving at a pregnancy resource center can be the perfect way to engage their peers in healthy ways around the topics of abortion and the pro-life movement.
For more information about PRCs, click here.
Defense of abortion is often a symptom of deeper, more impactful issues. We’ll never achieve the complete and total eradication of abortion through purely legislative measures. They might help, and that’s worth something. But true restoration and support comes from focusing on the needs of individual females and males impacted by abortion-related decisions.
For teenagers, knowing how to engage in healthy conversations with peers about abortion and the pro-life movement can lead to authentic care and compassion. Not to mention opportunities to truly understand and love someone with a different point of view than you.
The greatest command issued to humanity is this: that we love God and love others as He has loved us. This is the core of the pro-life movement. It will continue to be long after Roe v. Wade is another footnote in our history.
Copyright © 2022 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.
All scripture quotations are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. References: https://time.com/5390435/teen-social-media-usage/; https://www.wsj.com/articles/most-teens-prefer-to-chat-online-than-in-person-survey-finds-1536597971; https://www.k12dive.com/news/could-overturning-roe-v-wade-impact-high-school-dropout-rates/623651/; https://www.jstor.org/stable/24739063; https://licc.org.uk/resources/questions-jesus-asked-the-power-of-the-question/; https://www.biblegateway.com.