America, children, contraception and birth control, controversy, debate, discipline, family, government, ignorance, love, motherhood, parenting, relationships, religion, reproduction, sex education, sexual development, teen pregnancy
A friend told me a story a while back about how her mother and step father were trying to adopt a baby girl. The child was coming from a 14 year old that had gotten pregnant. This is not totally unheard of. It’s been happening for a while. The thing that struck me, was that this friend told me the girl’s attitude was so uncaring about the whole situation. It was almost like she didn’t understand the severity of what she had gotten herself into. The girls mother also seemed uncaring about it. This friend and I had many a conversation about how she probably just thought that pregnancy and labor was going to be as easy as it is in the movies, not understanding that she wouldn’t be in labor for 5 minutes, that the pain was going to be unlike anything she’d ever experienced, and that she was carrying another life form in her body.
As I had referenced in “Since When is That Okay?“, a pregnant teen had come into the store with her two year old child and her mother. Her mother seemed almost elated at the fact that she was going to be a grandmother to a second child when her first was 2 and her own child was 14.
There’s more than one problem with this situation, but I’ll just get down to the most prominent ones. First of all, teen pregnancy, like I said, is not uncommon. It’s not like this just started happening in the last decade or something, it’s been happening since forever. The issue to start with is that we as a society have romanticized teen pregnancy. We’ve taught our youth that if you love each other you have a baby. What we fail to teach in addition to that, is that having children is work. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Does anyone remember The Pregnancy Pact? The girls that made a pact to all get pregnant so they could have their babies together and keep their boyfriends? We also forget to teach them what love truly is. That it’s next to impossible to find your mate when you’re 12 and 13 years old. A few years back, in my home town, we had a girl going INTO 7th grade that was pregnant. Her mother made her carry the child. I am not aware of whether or not the girl kept the child or gave her up for adoption, but it doesn’t matter. What matters here is her age. What matters is the fact that shouldn’t be more than 13. Who thinks about sex at that age? Seriously? Who even thinks about having babies that young?
I don’t approve of forcing your girl to have an abortion because they’re too young. They need to understand what situation they’ve gotten into. When I was growing up, I was taught, inadvertently, that if you think you’re mature enough to have sex, then you need to understand that with that comes responsibility. You need to be mature enough to take care of a child. When you make the decision to have sex that young, you give up any right to whine and complain like a child and to have your parents take care of you. We had our share of pregnancies when I was high school, but the girls that got pregnant, got their shit together. They stayed in school, they stood next to me and graduated right along with me. They took care of their children.
I watched an episode of 16 and Pregnant, and was completely appalled. In the episode, one of the girls was saying she talked to her doctor and the doctor had warned her she may have a BM while giving birth. The girl said her response was “Is that like a yoga move I need to practice?” One of her friends looked at her said “No, that means bowel movement.” Her response was “What’s a bowel movement?” her friend looked at her like she was an idiot and said “Poop, Carly. It means poop. How much do you even know about giving birth? Did you know what was going to happen when you decided to have a baby?” At that point I thought, “This is probably the only girl out of her entire group of friends that won’t get pregnant until she’s married.”
The other girl in the episode, after she had the child, woke up her mother in the middle of the night. Her mother was pissed. There was a 5 minute cussing out, chewing out session about how she needs to take care of her own child. This girl’s response was “Mom, I’m tired. She just needs a bottle. Just give it to her.” Her mother on the other hand said “Absolutely not. You got yourself into this, you take care of your own child. She is your responsibility, not mine. I did my run. I had my children. You made your bed, lie in it.” The girl then went on to talk to the camera about how “unfair” it was of her mother to just “completely ignore her grandchild. She could have at least helped.” This all happened their first night home. Not to mention the fact that she got pissed every time the nurse woke her up in the hospital so the child could breastfeed.
I’m of the opinion that if our children procreate, they will keep the child. They will not be given the option to put that child up for adoption. They will grow up. They will graduate, and they will be a parent.
The second issue I have with this, is that we accept teen pregnancy instead of doing anything in our power to actually educate our youth on sex. I’ve mentioned before that our schooling system has no concept of sex education. I’ve had this discussion with my sister before. Abstinence education does nothing. I’m not saying we should pass out condoms to our middle school and high school students, but we need sex education not abstinence education. In order to properly educate our children, we need to take the approach first of asking them what they think sex means, what they think love means, and what they think a relationship means. If we sit here and preach “Don’t have sex, or you’ll get chlamydia and die” (oh Mean Girls, I love you) they’re going to do it out of sheer rebellion. Sexual education aims to give them a positive outlook on growing up not a negative one. For them to be able to make an informed decision rather than watching “Teen Mom” or “16 and Pregnant” and making decisions that way.
Our education needs to be based on sexual development and reproduction, teach them about contraception and birth control, and relationships. I’m not talking a basic overview of the three topics, but an in depth, take a test, type of teaching on these matters. Unfortunately, we as a society, have decided to let our religious beliefs and personal opinions get in the way of any sort of proper education for our kids. There have been many a study about children having babies at such a young age can lead to medical issues when they’re older. Why aren’t we teaching that as well? AGAIN, I’m not saying we need to start passing out condoms to our kids. Sex education is not encouraging them to have sex, its letting them know the ins and outs (pun intended) of sexuality, having babies, and relationships. It’s because we have shows on MTV about teen pregnancy, movies about teen pregnancy, and we don’t talk about it that it keeps happening. It’s because of all that that we continue to see a rise in the amount of “babies having babies.” I can honestly say, that up until I met my husband, it was all just sex. I was aware of that. I was aware of the moment when it went from “having sex” to “making love.” These kids don’t understand the difference because they’re not being taught the difference. They think “oh I love him so he must love me” but they don’t understand the commitment that love comes with.
To resolve this whole thing, I have one last comment to add, that I sort of said before. When you decide that you’re old enough to have sex, you decide you’re old enough to have a child. And when you make that decision to give up any right to act immature about ANYTHING. I’ve read that the number of pregnant teens is decreasing in America, but I guess right now I fail to see that.