The problem could be that parents are just not being open and honest with kids when it comes to having 'the sex talk,'or maybe teenagers don't want to listen to what their parents and other adults have to say about sex. Either way, Ohio, we have a problem.

The problem could be that parents are just not being open and honest with kids when it comes to having 'the sex talk,'or maybe teenagers don't want to listen to what their parents and other adults have to say about sex. Either way, Ohio, we have a problem.

According to a federal report released in January 2009, when it comes to teen pregnancy, Ohio ranks 25th. Ohio teens between the ages of 15 and 19 who became pregnant, rate 40 births per 1,000 teens. This upsetting rate is just below the national average of about 42 per 1,000.

New York-based Dr. Jennifer Austin Leigh said, "Parents need to create a safe and loving relationship for their sons and daughters to be able to talk with them openly and freely about sex." And I completely agree. We need to educate the teenagers who are not yet parents and we also should help to continue to educate the teenagers who are. The teen mother who is already feeling lonely, overwhelmed, and who has this huge responsibility, needs to be supported and loved in order to become the best mother she can be. We need to encourage her to be successful in life - for herself and her child.

Rachel Coleman, an 18-year-old Columbus mom, told me that before her pregnancy she didn't have a care in the world. She said that she didn't have to plan when she wanted to go out with her friends.

Going to the movies, grabbing a bite to eat, or just simply hanging out was planned in the moment. "I guess I was pretty much your average teen," Rachel said.

Rachel is now Mom to 7-month-old Logan, and was happy to share her story with me in hopes that other young girls will see that it is not at all easy to be a teen mom. She wants teenagers to realize how being careless and carefree in a relationship can change your life forever. The following is what Rachel asked me to share with all of you.

"I met Logan's father during my junior year at Fairfield Career Center. FCC is a vocational school where kids can go to study for what they want to do after high school. I was going there for health technology, which is pretty much like nursing.

My child's father and I were just friends at first and then decided to date the summer before our senior year. It was senior year and I was on my way to my next class when I became very dizzy and passed out. I thought it was because I didn't eat that morning.

My sister picked me up from school and one of the very first questions she asked me was, 'Rachel, is there a chance that you could be pregnant?' I had to be honest, and I said yes. We went to a local store and picked up a home pregnancy test. The results of the test came out so fast, it was pretty clear that I, in fact, was pregnant.

A doctor's appointment later that day confirmed it - I was a 17-year-old high school senior who was about to become a mom. I had only been dating this boy for about four months when I got pregnant. It definitely was not a planned pregnancy and while being sexually active in our relationship, we could have been a lot safer, but we were not.

I was in too much shock to tell my mom. My sister told her so that way she could be at the doctor's office with me that day. Then it was time to sit my dad down and fill him in.

My mom was very supportive because she was my age when she first got pregnant. My dad reacted a little at first, but all in all, I had complete support from my family. I am grateful for my family, because I was so scared and had no idea what I was going to do. I just knew as long as I had them, I'd be able to make it through anything.

Being pregnant my senior year was so tough. I went from hanging out with my friends every day, to going out maybe once a week if that. I stayed at home a lot and read. That's how I became a Twilight fan! I missed my senior prom because I was in my eighth month of pregnancy. My pregnancy took a toll on my body right around prom and graduation. All of my friends were going to graduation parties while I was at home trying to stay off my swelling feet.

I have one friend who has stuck with me throughout this entire thing. She is the only one I can talk to and do things with. Occasionally, my parents will watch Logan so I can have a little time to myself. Children take up a lot of time. If you are not willing to give it to them, then you won't be ready to be a parent.

My son's father stayed with me throughout my entire pregnancy, but when our son was about 2 months old, we came to realize our relationship was not going to work out. He sees our baby about once a week and tries to help out, but as of now, I really do not get much help from him.

Overall, I love being a mom. Of course I get overwhelmed and exhausted, but honestly what mom doesn't?

I want teenagers to realize if you are sexually active, this can happen to you, too. If you are not at the point in your life where you are ready to give up your wants and needs for a baby, then you need to do everything to be as safe as possible if you still choose to have sex.

My family is the only reason I am able to get through this time in my life. Teen moms have to go through so many obstacles. A lot in your life will change. I had to give up my childhood because I made the mistake of not having safe sex. Don't get me wrong, I love Logan to pieces, but I do wish I could be in a more stable position to support him.

For me, babies = time + love + patience. If you are a teen mom and you make it out still standing, you should be strong enough to make it through anything. I can't give Logan everything right now, but I do give him what he needs. I am planning on providing us with a better life as we both get older."

Right now, Rachel is taking a phlebotomy class. When she becomes more financially stable, she plans to continue her education by going back to school to become a pediatric nurse.

Leigh teaches what she calls COAL to parents of teenage girls. COAL stands for Curiosity, Openness, Acceptance and Love. "Putting your head in the sand is not a good way to deal with the fact that teenagers are being sexually active," she said. Dr. Jenn, as she is sometimes called, is an award-winning author who said her new book, The Secrets Guys Wish You Knew about Love, is a great resource to put in the hands of every teenage girl you know.

You can find out more about Dr. Jennifer Austin Leigh by logging onto www.parentingteengirls.com and www.honorthegirl.me.

Please join Rachel Coleman and Nicole Fletcher along with hundreds of other teen moms on www.myspace.com/teenmommagazine and www.teenmommagazineonline.com.


Nicole L. Fletcher (pregnant at age 17) was at one time a teen mom. Now in her early 30s, she is passionate about encouraging teen moms to be great parents and to be successful in life. Nicole lives in Reynoldsburg with her husband and three kids. For more information, log on to www.teenmommagazineonline.com .