Friday, October 15, 2010

"Passion, I see, is catching."

There seems to be a trend emerging over the last year or so that kinda scares me [well, one of many trends that scare me].     It’s the many TV shows and magazine articles that sort of glamorize teen moms.

I know MTV has a “reality” series called Teen Mom—an offshoot of another series called 16 & Pregnant.     I have only seen snippets of the program, so I can’t truly judge it.       I think their intent was to show how difficult it is to be a parent in your teens—I think….

But when young ladies featured on the show are given cover stories in OK! magazine and the like, I feel that message is getting lost.      This trend—as well as the publicity surrounding Jamie Spears and Bristol Palin—is sending the wrong message to kids in my opinion.    As are the plotlines of a number of films and television dramas.     

The number of teen pregnancies had declined over the past 20 years, but now it seems to be rising again.    [Remember that pact between a group teens in Massachusetts? ]     The ever strident rhetoric of the religious right –and their burgeoning political power (another thing that scares me)—is pushing abstinence and no sex education, but it’s like trying to close the barn door after the horse has escaped.

I speak from experience here—my daughter was 15 and a half when she got pregnant with my grandson. He is now a year older than his father was when he was born and he seems to get it—be responsible and don’t get a girl pregnant in the first place.

I really wrestled with this issue as my kids hit puberty.    I had always been very forthright and open about discussing sex with them as they were growing up [I was the one who handled the sex talks, their dad freaked out when he realized some of the stuff they were asking and choked—men are such wimps].    But I really didn’t feel it was right to give my daughter the pill at 14 or so.     I felt it was like saying it was okay to engage in an activity that we didn’t feel she was emotionally ready for.     I mean would you hand them alcohol at that age?     [And by the way, I felt the same about my son—he wasn’t ready either.      No double standard here.]

I vividly remember the day my grandson was born—5 days after my 38th birthday.     I was with my daughter throughout the entire labor and delivery; it was the longest day of my life.     Watching someone who was clearly not physically and emotionally ready for what your body goes through to give birth was excruciating.     I wanted to say, “Getup, I’ll do it.”      [Not that I did much better at 20, mind you…..]

It was a big adjustment for all of us when she decided to keep her son.     We had explored open adoption, but she looked at him after going through about 12 hours of labor and couldn’t give him up.      I knew we were all in for challenges ahead, and I was right.       I mean I was completely unprepared at 21 to be a parent, no way is a 16 year old.
They lived with us until my grandson was 9, and we handled alot of the expenses.     Fortunately, his paternal grandparents provide a lot of love, toys and clothes as well.      But his dad was out of the picture completely before the kid was 2.      Which is pretty much the norm, by the way.      Young girls are such fools when they think the guy is going to step up to the plate, as it were.      The ones that do are few and far between.     And they can forget about days at the mall shopping, fun parties, dances and the like.   They have a child to care for.

My daughter struggled to finish high school [many teen moms don’t by the way] and went on to college at night.      She held down full and part-time jobs from the time she was 18 in order to help as much as she could.       But on the way she raised a wonderful young man who is an amazing athelete with many accomplishments.     He is also very bright, articulate and caring.    

Now my girl is 35 years old and trying to pay a mortgage, her own student loans and a few new ones to cover her son’s college.       [And he's got loans as well--it's a bitch peopel.]     I ache to watch her work so hard to make ends meet—and I can’t help her.       She loves her son dearly and he was a real motivator for her.      She has been an awesome parent, but I’m sure she would be the first to burst this little glamour bubble that seems to have formed of late.

So girls—to stay healthy and not become a statistic, DON’T GET PREGNANT!!!       Obviously, waiting until you’re in a real, adult relationship to have sex would be the ideal, but I know your hormones are raging as much as the boys are.       So please avail yourselves of the many contraceptives you can walk into any drug store and purchase no questions asked.


  1. My youngest daughter came home from her first year of college this past May and told me she was pregnant. Just as we were getting used to the idea, she lost the baby. I will admit to a mixture of grief and relief. I'm not even sure I can put this into words. I was really sad at the passing of my first grandbaby, but on the other hand, I knew she really wasn't ready for motherhood. I just hope she doesn't get it into her head that she needs to have a baby now to replace the one she lost. She needs to finish school and get settled in her life before starting a family.

  2. Teens role play! They want to experience everything...all at once. With no thought to responsibility and consequences. We, the parents, have to know this and think ahead. Plan and prepare! Pre-marital sex leads to STD's and pregnancy. Both unwanted...both preventable.
    Thanks Ellen

  3. Oh Joanie--my heart aches for you. I'm sure this is a really conflicted time for your family. Prayers and hugs for you all.

    SueAnn--isn't is sad they are all in such a hurry these days. Is that our fault?

    And, of course, no one seems to be able to take responsibility for their actions these days.

  4. This was an excellent post Ellen and one I wish many teenagers could read. I completely agree with you, I think the intent of the show 'Teen Mom' was to show how tough it is but I'm confused as to why they are suddenly on covers of magazines.
    My brother in law's 18 year old girlfriend (now fiance) is four months pregnant, and I don't think she has any idea how much her life is about to change, and I don't think it's a coincidence that her best friend has a six month old baby either. It's contagious!
    Best of luck to you, your daughter, and your grandson. It sounds like your daughter has her head screwed on right :-)