How do we help our teens avoid a crisis pregnancy?

Teenage pregnancy is an emotional and worrying issue; and, according to a report in this newspaper, based on statistics released by the HSE’s crisis pregnancy programme, more than 60 young girls under the age of 17 years availed of the service (that covered the Roscommon area) over the past five years.

  Now, to consider here is the impact a pregnancy has on a woman’s body, mentally, physically and socially – it’s also a serious health issue, both for the young mother, who is struggling with her own identity and sexuality and for her infant child, who desperately depends on her for his/her very survival. That said, despite these figures the HSE also reports there’s a “consistent decline in births to teenagers in Ireland for over a decade.” Now that’s a hugely significant shift, which is encouraging…but not for the poor kids who are in danger of becoming a crisis pregnancy statistic before they manage to sit their Leaving Cert! So what can we do to help them? 

  Well I’m sorry to have to put it onto the parents, but here’s the thing folks…sex education begins at home! Yep, you, as their mother and father, should be educating and enlightening your baby girls and boys throughout their lives. Now I’m not talking explicit stuff, I’m saying we need to discuss sex in an age and ability appropriate way; chat about the different parts of their bodies and the relationships they have with their little pals and with other people.

  Believe me, I know how difficult it can be to open up this conversation with a hormonal, mortified, know-it-all teenager, so that’s why I advise beginning this process when they’re young; when you’re the centre of their universe and they still need and value your input into their lives. Try to create an encouraging and open environment where your four-year-old…yes I said four, can feel comfortable asking you questions and where you feel comfortable answering them. 

  You see, having sex, smoking and drinking alcohol is all part and parcel of a teenager’s risk-taking behaviour; however, I would imagine, if we try to help our kids have long-term goals and promote their positive self-esteem when they’re pre-teens, i.e. before all the psychosocial, cognitive and physical changes begin to occur, then perhaps, if we’re lucky, we may manage to minimise the probability of having a crisis pregnancy within the family.

  Look, I don’t have the answers, I’m just a mother who, having become pregnant myself with my first baby at 17, complete with all sorts of trauma, managed to successfully steer my own two beauties away from this stressful situation with clear guidelines regarding relationships, responsibilities and birth control when they were young, so I fully understand where parents are coming from and realise how totally overwhelming and toe-curling this whole ‘sex education’ thing can be for everyone. But hey, at 17 they’re still only babies themselves, they should be out with friends going to clubs and having a laugh, not trying to cope with a life-changing situation.

  So, go on, sit them down today, explain all about the birds, the bees, the pill and the condom, etc., while you’re still the most influential figure in their lives, but please, always remember that while our main focus should be preventing a crisis pregnancy, if it does occur, (and we all have slip-ups), your teen, whether the mother or the father, will need love, help, support and understanding; and should never, ever feel excluded or isolated.

Why I won’t be bingin’ in de buff!

The question, ‘what will I wear to dinner?’ may soon become obsolete if this new-fangled idea of naked dining catches on!

  I’m serious folks, The Bunyadi restaurant is set to become London’s new naked, pop-up eaterie, and, according to their press release, owners plan to “use only the most natural, home-grown ingredients to envelope its patrons in a Pangea-like world, free from phones, electric lights and even clothing.”    

  Oh sweet mother of divine God…what’ll we do if this place opens in Roscommon? I mean, how would we ever manage to remove the image of some hungry, hairy naked guy, sittin’ in the nip, retrieving his scalding spaghetti out of his, ahem, Full Monty, from our poor retinas? Seriously I’d rather poke out my optic nerve without an anaesthetic than witness that!

  According to founder, Seb Lyall, “The decor will be minimalist, with bamboo partitions and wood-hewn furniture.” Er, wood! Ya might want to rethink that sunshine. Naked butt cheeks, loose dangly bits and splinters! Hellloooo! I hate to encourage you Seb, but wouldn’t wipe clean leather be more appropriate? Bon Appe-tit!

End of a Purple Reign

There were performers, musicians and singers who sold more albums and gained more awards; but I think fans, of which I’m one, will agree, nothing compared to the notorious Purple One that was Prince Rogers Nelson.

  The li’l dude, who packed more genius and creativity into his pint-sized frame and his 57 years than Madonna and Michael Jackson, just two of his contemporaries, put together, was, quite simply gifted and magnificent.

  His image often set tongues wagging, generating such debate as…Is he straight? Is he Gay? Is he African American? Or is he Hispanic? – I mean, who cares? Prince was a person who, by creating his own sexual identity, became supremely iconic and totally other worldly. 

  I remember watching the 2015 Grammys where Prince – or the artist formerly known as Prince who for years was identified as a totally unpronounceable squiggle symbol – landed on stage rocking an Afro, long beads and a shiny orange top and flares ensemble. With a cheeky, sexy grin, he appeared to enjoy the excitement his unique presence, his own androgynous style, had managed to stir. Eat your heart out Kanye West et al!

  The diminutive one was a versatile singer with a phenomenal vocal range, a songwriter, producer, Oscar winner, actor and multi-instrumentalist who was possibly one of the most exceptional guitarists of his generation. He was a showman who managed to perform with operatic flair whilst wearing massively high heels; and, at only 5’2”, the pocket rocket, who released his first album back in 1978, and who sold more than 100 million records with hits such as his Oscar winning Purple Rain – from the cheesy but cult movie of the same name – was a global mega star.

  We will never again get to experience or hear the likes of his deep synth funk sound, his impromptu performances and his extravagant outfits. How sad.