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How to Talk to Your Child about Abortion

The topic of abortion has been a big one in the news and on social media lately. Parents and caregivers are seeing the extreme importance of having conversations with their children about sex, pregnancy, and childbirth from an early age. The key is to start conversations early so that you can keep lines of communication open. You may be asking yourself how to have a sensitive conversation with your child where they get can get age-appropriate answers, while still learning to form their own beliefs. In this blog post, we offer some guidance to help you through these tough conversations.

Start with self-reflection prior to any conversations:
  • What do you think and feel about abortion?

  • Create a foundation of open conversation around body safety and sexual health

  • What values do you want to convey from this conversation? (E.g. responsibility, respect and consent, sensitivity, empathy, celebrating life, etc.)

Timing and how-to:

Conversations surrounding sensitive topics like this can arise because your child initiates a question, or it was overheard on the news or in conversation with someone else, or their friends and peers were discussing it together. If you as the parent or guardian are facilitating this conversation or wondering how to respond to your child's questions, here are some tips.

  • Find out what they already understand by asking questions.

  • Keep explanations clear and simple, and use accurate terminology.

  • If they saw or heard something upsetting or graphic, console them. Reaffirm that they are safe and wanted. Explain that people will try to make something more shocking when they are trying to convince people to take a particular side.

  • Be honest about how people have diverse views on abortion, because of the many values, religions or beliefs, opinions, and life experiences we all have. This could also lead to a conversation about your child's specific values, religious beliefs, etc. Allow this to be a safe space for your child to process aloud and build their own unique belief system.

Specific questions kids or teens may ask and suggestions on ways to answer:
  • What is abortion?

Acknowledge: "It sounds like you are curious to learn more about abortion."

Affirm: "I am glad you came to me to talk about this."

Ask Questions: "I am wondering what made you curious about abortion?"

Be There: Respond without judgment. Give a clear and concise answer. Example response: "Abortion is when someone who is pregnant decides to make it stop so they won’t have a baby later." Be present for any follow-up questions.

  • Why would someone want an abortion?