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Moreover, motherhood can catapult a teen into womanhood and a higher social status, the two authors wrote. To poor girls, becoming a mother is “the surest source of accomplishment within their reach.”

Parents can best address teen pregnancy - intended and unintended - by talking constantly with their children about getting an education, setting life goals, getting married and starting a family, said Sarah S. Brown, chief executive officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Talk a lot about “the timing” of these events, and be clear about your views, she advised.

It’s also important to explain to teens that babies and children do best with adult parents - mothers and fathers - who are committed to each other and can provide a stable home.

After all, she added, “babies don’t provide unconditional love. They demand it.”

Cheryl Wetzstein’s column On the Family appears Tuesdays and Sundays. She can be reached at