June 19th, 2008
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If you’ve read here for any length of time, you know that I promote education to young mothers, believing that most can parent their child. While I don’t believe that all teens are ready and/or capable, I believe that there are great teen parents. But, I’ve got to say, this particular news story caught me off guard.

Seventeen teens are pregnant at a high school in Massachusetts. That’s quadruple their normal pregnancy rate. Quadruple. Four times. And, sadly, no, it wasn’t a case of a bad batch of condoms. No. Instead the group of girls, none of whom is older than sixteen, made a pact to get pregnant and “raise their children together.” It’s like their very own little commune! But stupid.

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I’m not sure why this group of girls came up with this idea. I’m not sure why they decided to follow through with it. I’m not sure what to say. I do know that this is creating quite a stir on the blogosphere and in the media. And in that small Massachusetts town. I’m sure that one or more of these girls is missing something in their lives, though I won’t venture to guess what, and thought this would be a great “filler” for that void. Let me tell you, children don’t fill voids.

I’d love to sit these girls down and have a discussion with them. Wouldn’t you? I got pregnant, unintentionally, a good five and a half years older than these girls are right now. And the criticism I received was mind-blowing. And I didn’t do it on purpose. Even though my life-experience was limited, I was smart enough to know that parenting a child is not a game, a joke or a quick route to adulthood. I’m now married and an everyday mother of two amazing boys and, let me tell you, it’s really hard work. I was up this morning with the sun and, as I work at home so that I can be with my boys, I won’t go to bed until near midnight. I’m tired. I’m overworked. And I have a partner doing his fair share of the parenting and housework. And, you know, money.

As stupid as these girls’ decisions were, my heart is kind of worried as well. Is someone going to turn this into a “these babies need adopted” argument? I mean, one can make the argument that these girls don’t have the intelligence necessary to properly raise a child. Their decision to purposefully get pregnant just because all their friends were going to is argument enough. But is this reason enough to separate the child from their mother? Their families? I’m sure more than one parent of these young teen girls is thinking, “I can’t raise another one! I can’t do this again! I mean, look at this one! What the heck did I do wrong?” (Oh, you wouldn’t ask yourself that? I would.)

My guess is that adoption is being discussed in more than one home at this point. As these children were purposefully conceived, my guess is that the ones broaching the subject are the parents, not these teen girls. And while I still think this whole story is the pinnacle of stupidity, I’m hoping that these parents get into counseling with their child-mothers and really investigate what the option of adoption means for all of them.

Either way, adoption or parenting, my heart breaks for these seventeen still unborn babies. Broken. (Oh, and slightly amused because, HI? CHILDBIRTH IS PAINFUL.)

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For more on unplanned pregnancy (which doesn’t actually fit, now does it? oh well), read these posts.

Photo Credit.

8 Responses to “Not So Smart”

  1. BestLight says:

    I also wonder how the fathers fit in. Did they know of the girls’ plan? Are they being consulted as the girls and the families look at choices?

  2. Considering it is mentioned that some of the fathers are in their 20′s, I’m sure some could be in trouble with the law.

  3. BestLight says:

    Good point. I hadn’t thought of that angle.

    That’s an interesting question. In the cast of statutory rape resulting in pregnancy, does the perpetrator have any rights as a father?

  4. Opalwench says:

    This quote disturbs me…

    “Adults in the city need to do a better job of showing teen girls a pathway to adulthood that includes something other than parenting, she said.” (Statement from Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy)

    Yes, teen pregnancy isn’t ideal. And yes, the pact idea seems … well, rather silly or even down right dumb. But why must that mean that we’re showing a pathway to adulthood that includes something other than parenting? I mean, one might guess that Ms. Quinn means that we need to show teen girls that pregnancy and giving birth does not make one a grown-up. But the other possible connotation of that comment seem very anti-teen parent.

  5. BestLight; I’m not sure on MA’s laws regarding that one. SOME states DO give fathers of ANY form of rape parental rights while others are fighting to change those laws.

    Opal; Really, what needs to be said, is that teens need to be taught that a) sex is not a game, b) parenting isn’t a game, c) adulthood isn’t a game and d) life is not a game. I think, no matter the outcome of any of these pregnancies, they’re all about to learn those lessons the very, very hard way. And that’s what’s ultimately sad.

  6. garegare says:

    teen pregnancy is a really touchy subject. its now becoming fodder for television. have you heard of this show called Baby Borrowers on NBC? they think teenagers can borrow babies and care for them with no experience. would you loan out your child?

  7. My Husband and I discussed that very thing recently. No, we would not be handing over our children for any such nonsense. Heck, I have a very select few who are allowed to watch these children and only two of them can watch at night time because they know how to adhere to a specific routine.

  8. djc0501 says:

    I live in the bible belt now, but grew up in NYC. I am 38 years old, but when I was about 12, my mother sat me down and explained all about the “birds and the bees”. She sat with me and went through the book “A Child is Born” so I could see how a baby develops from embreyo to fetus to a full-term baby. She bought several forms of birth control or had information packets on them so I was provided with the information to protect myself, should I decide to begin having sex at any time in the future. She by no means encouraged sex and impressed upon me that sex was an adult activity that was best postponed until marraige (or at least until I was old enough to take care of a baby in the event birth control failed). Down here, sex education is a taboo subject. They see giving children information about birth control is the same as giving them permission to have sex. I wish that attitude would change. Today, there is alot more to be concerned about besides pregnancy. I’d prefer to arm my child with the information to protect themselves against both pregnancy and STD’s than to let them learn it on the street and come home with something that can’t be fixed. You best believe my husband is getting ready to have this conversation with my 12 year old son very, very soon and if I was not married, I would either do it myself or find a male I trusted to do it for me. Lack of information can be a death sentence these days. As ironic as it sounds, I can remember being able to go to the school nurse in high school when I lived in Florida and being able to get condoms from them. The health department gave it all kinds of birth control for free to anyone who came in needing it – no parental permission required.

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