Let’s Talk Month Q&A with Doug Taylor
Monday, October 24, 2016
Doug Taylor is the Chief Program Officer at the SC Campaign. Married for 17 years with two teenage daughters, working in teen pregnancy prevention has never been more relevant in both his personal and professional life as it is right now. This Let’s Talk Month, Doug sat down for a Q&A where he discussed family, work and starting “the talk.”
Crystal: Tell me a little about your family.
Doug: I’ve been married for seventeen years to an elementary school educator and we have two daughters who are fifteen and thirteen.
Crystal: You have a high schooler and a middle schooler. What are some challenges you have seen with them being so close in age?
Doug: As someone who has worked in this field for a while and knows some of the research around brain development and teen behavior, you don’t know anything until you have a teenager of your own. It’s very rewarding, but it’s challenging. We set the parameters around education. If they do well in school and work hard, we feel like on some level they’ve earned some of that respect which we feel is important.
Crystal: How would you describe your communication style when it comes to your daughters?
Doug: We’re starting to have more conversations now that it’s a political season and they’re right at that age where they understand the implications of a presidential election. I feel like there’s now more opportunity to have conversations. In terms of the topic of teen pregnancy prevention, what generally tends to happen is if a conversation goes that way, they just kind of look at me and don’t say anything.
Crystal: Do you think they’re listening when you say something?
Doug: Because I talk about my work at home, I’m hoping through osmosis it’s sinking in. I may be talking to my wife or a friend about what we’re doing and if they’re around, I generally say the same things I would say if they weren’t. For me as the father, having a direct conversation about love, sex and relationships hasn’t really happened. I think on some level they’re listening, but I would like to have more conversations about these issues. One of my daughters was talking to me about another friend who is sixteen and has a boyfriend who is not in school and has already graduated. My quick comment to that was, “I don’t think I would like that. That probably wouldn’t go very far in my house.” I consciously threw it in there as part of thinking about sharing our values about love, sex and relationships. I’ve tried to insert a comment or two rather than have long conversations. That’s been my strategy.
Crystal: With Let’s Talk Month here, as a parent, do you feel that makes you more excited to start talking to your kids about these issues?
Doug: I think it’s a reminder because our whole message is it’s not one conversation. You have to start early. You start to realize that your kids aren’t five and seven anymore. I missed that time frame. You start to realize moments and opportunities to have conversations with your kids are going to be gone before you even realize it. I think what’s good about the campaign around Let’s Talk Month is it reinforces every year around this time, “Don’t forget about this. This is really important.” I was having a conversation with a woman the other day who asked what I do. She told me she has a six-year-old. I made the comment, “Oh, well October’s coming up. It’s Let’s Talk Month.” She looked at me strange and said, “Well I have a six-year-old.” I said research shows the earlier you start talking about age appropriate information and if she starts asking questions, the more you can prepare yourself to answer those questions. I referred her to our website and told her about Tips for Parents. Admittedly, as an employee over the years, I’ve felt a little guilty because I haven’t been doing as much as I thought I should be doing in this area with my own kids.
Crystal: So, with your girls being 13 and 15, do you have any advice for parents with kids around their ages or do you have any advice for starting conversations about love, sex and relationships?
Doug: For parents who have not had a conversation and their children aren’t dating, I would say, “What can you do now to start planning that conversation?” For those who have children who are already dating or in relationships, “What are you doing as a parent to become informed about some of the research that puts a child at greater risk for unintended pregnancy?” In some cases, as parents, we have higher expectations for our children to live up to than how we behaved as teenagers. I hear parents say all the time, “I sure wouldn’t want my kids doing what I was doing in high school.” I don’t think we can be hypocritical. While we don’t need to share all of our past with our children, we do need to be honest and open with our children and teach them the values we believe in.