Is teenage pregnancy that bad? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 63 Old 08-16-2011, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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so i heard this show on NPR that talks about a reality show (i am not sure about which one it is).

 

and of course i immediately react. 

 

because just so you know my whole philosophy is that organisations really only care about 'workforce' not the individual themselves.

 

however this is not my reality. or my experience.

 

many in my family were teenage moms and they regret nothing. unplanned babies.

 

yes life is/was hard. now they are well settled. yes they didnt go to college but they hold good jobs and are satisfied with their life.

 

i hate this focus on omg  teenage preg is bad. 

 

i am in school myself and i see returning students who were teenage moms not regreting their life.

 

yes its hard. but in many cases they also get a lot of help from family.

 

i am talking about the US. i know it can be a little different elsewhere.

 

it makes me angry that the choices for teenage moms are abortion or adoption. keeping the baby is not a choice because the baby ruins your life. 

 

looking at the economy and seeing so many highly educated people (from BA to higher) struggling ... does it really make that big an impact on society.

 

so am i completely screwed up in my thinking? 

 

what do you think about this topic. 


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#2 of 63 Old 08-16-2011, 07:54 PM
 
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Yeah, I'm kind of offended on behalf of teenagers (having once been one) when people talk about "preventing teen pregnancy" or otherwise stigmatizing it. Especially since teen pregnancy apparently includes moms age 18 and 19. I think in some cases (not all), people are only anti-teen-pregnancy as an excuse to be anti-teen-sex.

 

Unplanned pregnancy can suck, and while I think teens are more likely to be in a situation where it would suck, I don't think it's really the age of the person that matters. For example, I think a typical homeschooled 15-year-old girl (or one who could switch to homeschooling) with cool parents would suffer less from a sudden unplanned pregnancy than I would have if I'd had a baby about a year or two after I graduated from college with a Bachelor's degree.

 

I definitely disagree with teaching our societies daughters that one mistake--conceiving a child--totally screws up your life beyond repair. Not exactly very "girl power," is it?

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#3 of 63 Old 08-16-2011, 08:00 PM
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i think it's a very, very sad idea too.

 

when we decided we were ready to be pregnant, i was 31. I was terrified of telling my parents because of this language around babies ruining your life -- you can't achieve your goals! -- was what my parents usually utilized. And, by 31, i actually hadn't reached a lot of my goals. I'd reached several, to the point where I felt like I was ready for a child, but not all of them. And I didn't want them to be upset or disappointed in me because I hadn't reached my goals (amorphous goals) before having a baby.

 

what i learned when i figured this out -- why i was afraid to tell my parents i was pregnant when i was in my 30s, long married, etc and it was ridiculous, imo, to feel this way -- i realized that i could have, in fact, had babies sooner, i just was afraid to. I was terrified of "ruining my life!"

 

I look at my friends who are younger -- who may have had children before they were felt ready (eg, surprises!) -- but they are all doing well. they're doing ok. in fact, they're doing great. i'm really proud of them. I think they are cool people, and they are -- guess what? really good parents too. And, their lives aren't ruined.

 

In fact their lives -- like mine -- were improved by the child(ren).

 

And, i had several friends in high school who had babies at 16 and 17. I don't know of any who put that child up for adoption. all of them are really proud of their children -- who are currently in their senior years of high school. many of them went to college and even have advanced degrees. most of them are married and have other children as well. their lives are great.

 

I think that teen pregnancy can be hard if you are in a situation of poverty or without family support, but I think that it's NOT the massive problem that people may thing or believe that it is. 

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#4 of 63 Old 08-16-2011, 08:05 PM
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also, i don't see inadvertantly conceiving a child as a "mistake" per se. it's really kind of a fact of sex. i believe in teaching people to practice "safe sex" but also recognize that sex can lead to pregnancy -- end of story. But that doesn't mean it has to ruin your life, it just means it can be more difficult for you to realize certain, specific dreams if you choose to keep that child. but, many other dreams may still be realized, kwim?

 

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#5 of 63 Old 08-16-2011, 08:16 PM
 
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While I do think teen pregnancy should be discouraged I agree that "a baby ruins your life" is a sad thing to teach young women. From my experience I am definitely a different (and I like to think better) mother now at 33 then I was at 20 and that did come from life experience. But I think we should be teaching teens that sex can come with consequences one of those being pregnancy...but that does not mean your life has to end it just has to change. That you have to take responsibility for your choices. If you make the choice to risk pregnancy then you are choosing that responsibility. I think teaching them their "life will be over" feeds into a "poor me" mentality as well as the idea that it is better to be able to party all you want and not have responsibilities.Even though I wasn't technically a teen I am glad I got pregnant young because my life was on a fast track to nowhere and having my son forced me to straighten up because I didn't want that kind of life for him.


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#6 of 63 Old 08-16-2011, 09:16 PM
 
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I know a few fantastic mothers who got pregant as teens- one of them was 14 when the baby was born, and she has always been one of the best moms I know. I also know some not-so-great examples of IRL teen parents.

A PP said she feels offended by the verbage of preventing teen pregnancy. I can see how that could be offensive to someone who was a successful and happy pregnant teen. But I don't agree that it is all about being anti- teen-sex. It was by some stroke of luck that I managed to avoid pregnancy through my teen years. I say that not because a baby would have "ruined my life" but because the people I was choosing to have sex with would NOT have made good partners or parents. And being that I was a typical teen who was given to spontaneity and a feeling of being impervious to consequences, I can count on one hand the number of times I had protected sex. I was incredibly lucky to have dodged not only pregnancy, but also STIs. Yes, pregnancy is a logical direct result of having sex. But I would argue that many teenagers think exactly like I did- it won't happen to ME! I think people really give the majority of adolescents way way way more credit than they should. A LOT of brain development happens during those years. My teen years were so typically egotistical.. and I think that is so common! Its not that I wouldn't or couldn't have LOVED a child, but so many teens are really really 9and totally age-appropriately) self centered at that age, and that is NOT conducive to motherhood!
I agree that there are some teenagers with the emotional maturity to handle the huge task of raising children, but in my experience the vast, vast majority of them are not. I sure wasn't. I was 25 when my baby was born and I don't know if I would have been ready too much before that.

I definitely agree that if the teens have some positive support around them and are encouraged to succeed, they are more likely to do so.

That said, I know lots of not-so-great "adult" parents as well.

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#7 of 63 Old 08-16-2011, 09:42 PM
 
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Having lived in a community where the average age of first time mothers is around 16, I will say that it really can be that bad.  Now there were a lot of other issues in that community so it wasn't all about teen pregnancy.  However, I do believe that many of the issues are exacerbated by the proportion of teen pregnancies.  It does make everything that much harder in a community where many won't even finish high school even without having a baby.


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#8 of 63 Old 08-16-2011, 09:56 PM
 
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funny -- I was just talking to my teenage DD's about this today.

 

I feel that having a baby before completing one's education (whatever that means for a specific person) makes life more difficult. I don't think it ruins a life. Right now, both my DDs have goals and dreams, and while DH and I would be 100% supportive of whatever choice they made if they became pregnant before they were in a stable relationship and capable of supporting a child, raising child before they are completely adults it's just not my first choice for them. Going through an abortion isn't something that I want for them. The pain of giving a child in an adoption isn't what I want for them. I think all those paths look difficult and painful. I want my DDs to have easier paths than any of those.

 

I had my first child at 31, and I'm appalled at the language used in abstinence only sex ed. It really does make it sound like if you have sex, you will get pregnant, which will ruin your life, and then you will die of aids.

 

When I  talk about these things with my DDs, we talk in terms of finishing not just high school, but whatever they choose to do after highschool (one is considering trade school instead of university, which is fine with us). We talk about how the lifestyle they've grown up with was possible because daddy and I have a stable relationship, and daddy has a solid career.

 

I've met some amazing young mothers over the years, and I respect them a great deal. Their lives weren't ruined, and neither are their kids.  But I see it as a tough path.


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#9 of 63 Old 08-16-2011, 10:02 PM
 
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I, too am bothered by the assumption that teenage mothers can't be good moms, or have to give their babies away or abort them.  My mom had my big sister when she was 16, and me right after turning 19.  She and my dad had already been together for three years before she got pregnant.  They got married, and they are still married today and very committed to each other.  No, my parents weren't able to go to college.  yeah, we weren't exactly financially well off, but our parents loved us and we never felt like we missed out on anything.

 

Is an ideal situation for most teens?  Probably not.. but that doesn't mean it's THE END OF THE WORLD and that the kid's life is ruined if she doesn't abort the pregnancy or give it up for adoption.  With a little support, probably most teen moms would be excellent parents. For sure if my DD were to find herself pregnant as a teen, I would support her regardless of the decision she made, but I would let her know that keeping the baby doesn't mean the end of the world, it may very well mean the beginning of a very rich, love-filled life, for that matter.  I would do everything I could to help her be the best mom she could be and that my grandbaby was well cared for.  I know many teens are pressed to give their babes up for adoption and that many couples are happy to provide loving homes for the babies, but i'm really not the biggest fan of it.  I think it can have long lasting effects on mom and baby that are best avoided if possible.

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#10 of 63 Old 08-16-2011, 10:13 PM
 
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but are teenagers good moms or are grandmas good moms?

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#11 of 63 Old 08-16-2011, 10:30 PM
 
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I was 23 when I had DS and depended very heavily on my mom for support that first year.  I didn't know what the hell I was doing any more than I would have known had I been 16... seriously.  I had *no* experience with babies or even small children.  But that didn't make me a bad mom.  I have no doubt that some teen moms are better mothers than others at the get go, but that's no reason to throw them all under the bus and give their babies away to someone else without even trying to help them to mother their children.  Give them a chance if they want it, you know? 
I mean, really our way of raising babies as individual couples is a bit of an anomaly in the big human scheme of things.  It's completely normal and beneficial for grandparents to pitch in and help raise grand babies, some facets of our evolution have even depended upon it according to many.

 

ETA: The Grandmother Hypothesis  in case anyone wanted a brief run-down. :)

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#12 of 63 Old 08-16-2011, 10:50 PM
 
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I always wonder what percentage of the teen mom statistics are made up for 18/19 year olds who are married and wanted a kid.

 

In college I  worked with a girl who was 20, married, had two kid, and was going for an engineering degree.  She was incredibly happy and last I heard had a kick ass job.


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#13 of 63 Old 08-16-2011, 11:46 PM
 
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I agree with the OP.  I never thought I wanted kids and I believe it was because I was fed the message, as a teen, that having a baby is a horrible thing that will ruin your life.  I thought I had done a good job of farreting out the lies I'd been fed thru mainstream upbringing, but this one held fast right into the age where thoughts of little ones start emerging in ones daydreams without permission.  I never questioned this belief until an unplanned pregnancy put a lot of perspective on it, and I was 28 at that time.  I can't imagine what that would've been like as a teenager.

 

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#14 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 02:16 AM
 
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Interesting topic. It's certainly one that is not just black and white.

 

I have a couple friends who had babies young (not even as teens, we're talking 21 here), and they managed okay. Yes it was hard, but they pulled through. They are now late 30s and having their freedom again. I am an "old" mom, having had my first baby at 36, and I look to them and see how nice that could be ~sort of getting your intense parenting years over with early and then starting a new life post-kid at midlife, ya know?

 

OTOH, I would certainly NOT have been ready even at 25. If I had had a baby at 16, I can tell you I most likely would've been an abusive mom. I think one of the major, major advantages of waiting until you are more mature is that you are better able to handle the intense emotions and challenges that arise in being a parent. There have been times I felt ready to throw DS out a window. I am sorry to say that at 16 or 17 I may very well have done something like that. Whereas now, I have had enough time to learn to contain and manage my anger and frustration that I don't take it out on him. Not to mention, I am pretty sure I would've fallen into the mainstream parenting ways (CIO, etc) as I just wouldn't have had the forethought or resources (this was before the internet, which is where I was able to find out what AP was before I got pregnant) to realize I wanted to do AP.

 

I think for many girls / women, it is really not the end of the world to become a mom in their teens. Many can be good moms. But I think for many, and perhaps most, more maturity is needed to really be a truly good mother. Maybe I'm just projecting here, but I just don't think the majority of 16-19 year olds out there are mature enough and emotionally ready to be a really good mom. Maybe a good enough mom, but a truly good parent? IDK. But of course the grandparent thing plays a role and with really good support of the grandparents then that makes a HUGE huge difference.


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#15 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 03:06 AM
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i think that when a young woman (single) or teen has a baby, and has family support, it's not that the grandmother's are "good moms" but really that the child is raised in a more communal way. 

 

one of my friend's in high school who got pregnant, married the father of the child when she turned 18, and had the baby a few weeks later, and then had another child at 20. While they later divorced -- I think when her children were 5 and 7? -- and she has since remarried and that, I would say that her life and her children's lives have been fairly normal. 

 

another friend gave birth (having gotten pregnant on purpose at 17) and her family was there to support her. She got her GED and immediately started university part-time. She worked part time as well, to pay for uni. she lived with her parents, and her child did as well. When she was in classes, the uni had free child care available for her. when she worked, her parents offered to sit. That's not much different than a lot of MDC families, to be honest, who are working, going to school, and have grandparents or other family members, or child care, available for them.  She was, and still is, the mom, and she was and still is a good mom. Just because her parents helped her out when she was working doesn't mean that she wasn't the mother of her daughter, any more than my mother watching my son while I taught yoga classes equalled my mother being "the mom." 

 

kwim?

 

-- and to clarify in case it was misunderstood, when i stated that pregnancy is a possibility of sex, as a fact, I did not mean it in the abstinence-only way of teaching sex education. I'm for more sex education, to be honest, and more comprehensive (i'd love for girls to be taught about fertility cycles, if for nothing else, to understand their bodies better!) in general. But, birth control fails. OUrs did with my first -- accidental -- pregnancy that ended in miscarriage. Seriously, we were being very responsible 27 and 31 yr olds, and the condom broke. It does happen (and this was before I was charting -- do I didn't know I was fertile). 

 

i was always taught about birth control, my options and choices, but also that birth control can fail, so you gotta respect what you are doing when you are doing it. even if it is just for fun. :) (and I have no problem with it being just for fun). 

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#16 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 05:20 AM
 
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Originally Posted by babygirlie View Post

but are teenagers good moms or are grandmas good moms?


That's pretty damn offensive. I was a "teen mom" and I raised my child, no one else. My mom watched my son 1 time in the 3 1/2 years we lived near her (during a snowstorm when I had to run to the store when ds was just a couple months old). I had my child with me all day and all night (i worked as a nanny and was able to take him with me). I never went out and partied. I took him everywhere I went. I didn't just hand him over to someone else to raise.

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#17 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 05:30 AM
 
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Hmmm well I'm 23 y/o and I have known a lot of teen moms. I don't consider any of them but 1 a good mom, but then again I know a lot of adults I wouldn't consider a good mom either. I will say though out of about the 20 or so I know not one even attempted to BF (which I think is sad) but again that happens with adults all the time to.

 

They did/do leave their baby/kid/kids a lot with the grandparents. I would say some were even downright neglectful. I hate the whole "I need to party and have a life" thing. Some people think it's their right since the pregnancy was an "accident" to go party....I have known a few teen moms to leave their babies for a couple of weeks at a time...and several who did it for weekends etc...

 

Again an adult can do the same thing though...


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#18 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 05:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sosurreal09 View Post
 I hate the whole "I need to party and have a life" thing. Some people think it's their right since the pregnancy was an "accident" to go party....I have known a few teen moms to leave their babies for a couple of weeks at a time...and several who did it for weekends etc...

 

 



This is also why I myself would've made a TERRIBLE teen / 20s mom. I had a really good time getting my yayas out, even through my 20s right up til I met DH when I was 29. Not only did I party a lot, but I also traveled the world. I am so glad I got to do all that. It seems like I just had to get it out of my system, kwim. I so would've resented any children I had then. Again, maybe a projection on my part, but I'd be willing to bet many if not most teen moms have the same thing going on: either resenting what they're missing, or being a bad mom and neglecting their kid to go have fun.


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#19 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 06:33 AM
 
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I think that teen pregnancy is highly correlated with poverty and that's a hard way to grow up. Poverty is not romantic or fun. Poverty is hard and its associated with low achievement in schools, poor health etc. And that's why teen pregnancy should be prevented and discouraged. 

 

However, I do strongly support the rights of teen moms to keep their babies if that's what they want. The idea that they should give the baby to a richer couple is offensive to say the least. 

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#20 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 07:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sosurreal09 View Post

 

They did/do leave their baby/kid/kids a lot with the grandparents. I would say some were even downright neglectful. I hate the whole "I need to party and have a life" thing. Some people think it's their right since the pregnancy was an "accident" to go party....I have known a few teen moms to leave their babies for a couple of weeks at a time...and several who did it for weekends etc...

 

Again an adult can do the same thing though...


I fully support any mother who needs a weekend away from her baby for a mental health break, whatever the mother's age. Martyrdom should not be a part of motherhood.
 

 

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#21 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 07:36 AM
 
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Oh come on you are exaggerating what I wrote!

 

The mom's I'm talking about aren't the once in a while mom's I'm saying like every weekend or for weeks at a time here! Obvs you are not a bad mom if you want a weekend to yourself here and there....(not that I've ever had that luxury...)

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#22 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 07:37 AM
 
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I'm also saying babies here not like a 5 or 6 y/o!


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#23 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 08:41 AM
 
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With the exception of one mom, every teen mom I knew personally, did not fair so well. All still struggle with daily life today many years later. For those particular moms, life did seem to stop when they had kids. One mom I actually lived with when I was 15 and helped care for her kids for a couple years, she was never and still to this day, is not a good mother. She is 30 something now and is pg with her 4th child. She does not have custody of any of the other children, eventually the dads all proved to be better parents then she is. Would things be different had she not pg at young a young age or would things still be similar, who knows, but having 2 kids at 16 did not make things easy. 

 

 

I see it in my work often as well, I work with low-income moms which teen moms tend to be. Some are excellent moms, but many are anxious to get back to their regular life, away from baby. Many times the family are heavily involved, this can be good or bad. I am not an older mom myself, I had my first child at age 20, so I barely escaped the teen mom label. Honestly, if one of my kids became a teen parent, I would not be thrilled in the least. I married someone that was older and was settled in a good career already when I did start having kids so I never felt like a younger parent despite my age.


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#24 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 08:54 AM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by MadiMamacita View Post

 It was by some stroke of luck that I managed to avoid pregnancy through my teen years. I say that not because a baby would have "ruined my life" but because the people I was choosing to have sex with would NOT have made good partners or parents.

My sister got pregnant at 16. She was a wonderful mother - her children are adults now, with happy lives and successful careers. My sister has a successful life too - AFTER she left the loser who fathered her children. She would never have married him or stayed with him that long if it were not for the kids. That was six years of unhappiness, now long in the past.

 

I don't think, though, that staying with a bad partner is necessarily a teenage thing. One can read in Parents as Partners posts from women of all ages who are with crappy partners, often solely because of the children.

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#25 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 09:50 AM
 
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I don't think teen pregnancy is any worse than the majority of other pregnancies out there. There are going to be bad mothers in every age group. just like there are going to be some really good teen mothers. I think it just depends on the person.

 

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#26 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 11:13 AM
 
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The way I look at it, I don't think people generally view teen moms as bad or poor parents as much as they are trapped in a deeply engrained cultural view that unwed parenting is a bad idea.  This has been pretty self-evident in our long history in that pregnant women were forced (with or without family pressure) to get married as soon as they found out they were pregnant or were scuddled off to have the baby and give it up for adoption.  My own family has been pretty mum all my life about the circumstances surrounding my conception (my bio mom ran off with another man when I was two), but after digging in some public records, I found that only five months passed between the time that my dad and bio-mom got married and when I was born.  And no, I wasn't premature. There was no love there but getting married in that situation was the right thing to do at the time.  I don't think in our present culture we can quite grasp how important it was back then (even in the mid-twentieth century) for a child to be the product of married parents.  Those attitudes die hard.  Add that with teen pregnancy and a bunch of other biases crop up.

 

So I think there are a lot of preconceived notions out there that in order to raise children successfully, there has to be adherence to certain institutional guidelines.  I hear it every day from the media to politicians stating who should get married to whom, what defines a family and who is most likely to succeed based on how they are raised and the type of family model from which they come. 

 

Edited to add that I didn't really address the "ruining one's life" theme discussed upthread, but I still think that it is intertwined with the concept of matrimony, maybe less so today but in the past teen pregnancy may have effected who you married and how well you married (unfortunately the choice to raise one's child on one's own was very rare and highly discouraged).  Many young women were also unskilled in labor outside the home, so it added to their difficulty in survival without a man.  Again, our culture has had a very hard time grasping the idea that people can successfully survive outside of a traditional family structure.  Just my thoughts.

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#27 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 12:44 PM
 
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StephandOwen - why? What percentage of 16 year old single pregnant girls do you know that have a house on their own, can cook and feed themselves with no outside resources and have jobs or are just rich and lucky or that the bf even sticks around? 0%? .001%?   Sorry you are offended by realism? *shrug*

 

What about kids with NO parents or grandparents and that 15 year old boy doesn't feel like being in a relationship right now but would rather play with his comic books?

 

 

 

 

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#28 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 12:46 PM
 
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Considering I was a geezer when I had a kid I would welcome an earlier than 30's pregnancy just so I could have a chance at being a grandma before I died. Had I not been a geezer I might have thrown around the it will ruin your life propaganda we're taught.

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#29 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 03:01 PM
 
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For me it really was 'that bad'. It was not glamorous, it was not fun. It was hard, brutally hard. Years later when I was married and had three kids under two I never felt the exhaustion, frusteration and heartache I did when I was 17 with one wee baby. It ticks me off to see the rag mags filled with pics of the 'teen moms' (from the show) they're all done up, they look pretty good and you know they're making a whack of cash. It's not reality yet it's in the face of every teen girl or guy who happens to stand in (almost any) store line.

My son is now entering his senior year, he's done awesome and I'm proud of him. I've never regretted having him, and I would never use the word mistake. But it was a rough go for a long long time.

 

So I don't sugar coat anything when I talk to him (and his g/f).

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#30 of 63 Old 08-17-2011, 03:36 PM
 
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I think it's safe for us all to agree being a teen mom is not an ideal situation.  Though it shouldn't be demonized it should also not become Hollywood.  I feel for those in the position,  I don't know how I would have faired as a teen mom and I'm pretty happy that wasn't my path.  As most of my cousins and all of my Aunts to include my mother were teen moms.  All divorced and generally under the poverty line utilizing substidies.  I'm sure they wish things had been a little easier for them. 

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