Thursday, June 26, 2008

Teens and Pregnancy

As a mother I worry about teen pregnancies. I have two daughters and they're both entering their teens and let me just say this, I'm scared to death! There's so many dangers out there for a parent to worry about. When I was a teen the big danger was driving, that was about it. Now, I have to worry about cell phones and ipods while driving. The fact there's too many other cars on the road these days. Predators on the internet. Teaching them to understand how to protect themselves is a job that never ends. Each day I hear about something else that gives me nightmares. This time it's the 'Pregnancy Pact'. Now, authorities aren't sure if this is really true, they're investigating the matter. Of course magazines and newspapers already ran with it. Check out one article here, where you can see a bit more of the truth.

Either way, it doesn't really matter, the fact that there are so many teens getting pregnant is the real issue. When I was 17 I admit, I was still just a baby. My mom still cooked me breakfast every morning. Hell, I was in no way ready for a family. To take care of a tiny being when I couldn't even support myself. A 17 year old shouldn't have to support themselves. They're still learning how to do that. I want my girls to go to college, get a job they love, be able to have enough money so that when the do have kids it won't be a scary burden, it'll be a blessing, which is as it should be.

My girls came at a time in my life when I was ready and eager to have kids. It was a wonderful moment when I first learned I was pregnant. But I've seen this more and more frequently, kids having kids. One girl in our neighborhood has three kids, she started when she was a junior in high school and her mother takes care of all three of them while she barely comes around to see them. And that's not really a unique situation either. I thank God for their grandmother, at least those kids have some stability in their tiny lives. But at some point I have to say to teenagers who get pregnant then leave their parents to raise their babies, if you're old enough to have them, then you should be old enough to take care of them. The babies shouldn't suffer because of your poor planning.

In my opinion, if you're parents are still supporting YOU then you have no business having unprotected sex and bringing on the huge responsibility of children.

So now I turn the matter over to you. How do you feel about kids having kids? Do you think there's a solution? Does some of this go back to lack of discipline in the home? Are parents dropping the ball? Or are kids just getting more bold, more careless? I'm just throwing things out in an effort to get to the root of the problem. Nothing can be fixed until we understand the 'why'.


Regina Carlysle said...

Thought provoking post, Anne. I have two kids. My son is 22 and gone from home now and my daughter just turned 17. I'll NEVER forget my son coming home (he was in middle school at the time) and talked about the girls at school who were pregnant. I was like...HUH???WHAT???? HOLY SHIT!!!!! My daughter mentioned this stuff when SHE was in middle school. MIDDLE SCHOOL??? Lord, it's a scary world out there.

I sat my daughter down years ago and we had the talk about responsibilty. Fortunately we're really close and she knows to say the word and we get her on the pill/patch/whatever. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. I have not one single moral qualm about it.

Once I knew my son was sexually active, buying condoms at the grocery store was something I did. Again. No qualms. No questions asked.

Not all parents are involved in their kids lives and that's a scary thing. They get bad to zero information. So? Is it up to schools to deal with that lack? I don't know. Lots of schools have gotten in trouble for dispensing condoms and talking birth control. I saw...good for THEM. Someone has to watch out for these kids because the ARE having sex.

Anne Rainey said...

Great, great answer!!! Absolutely!!

Yes, we had the talk with our two awhile back as well. And it was very enlightening, for them and us. They were getting a lot of info from friends at school that wasn't true, setting them straight is part of why it's important to TALK to your kids.

I admit I'm lucky because my husband is very open with the girls, they both know they can talk to either of us if there's a problem. And like you, I'm ready to head to the docs to get them on the pill the instant they need it.

I'd like to add one other thing. Being honest about who YOU are is important too. I don't try to pretend I was a goody-goody at their age. When they see that mom really DOES know where they're coming from, then they're more apt to open up about their private lives.

Anne Rainey said...

Also, I'd like to add one last thing. This isn't to say that ALL girls who get pregnant are bad or wrong. PLEASE don't misunderstand my post!

Soemtimes, despite how careful you are, things do happen. It's just fate. Nevertheless, being responsible afterwards is what seperates the mature from the not so mature.

Regina Carlysle said...

Oh, I don't think anyone will get you wrong here, Anne. Things happen with kids/sex/pregnancy. That fact has been true since the beginning of time but no one wants to see their child faced with a decision like this at such a young age. Best for us moms to be prepared and be realistic.

Anny Cook said...

When my daughter was 14 she thought she might be pregnant. Ugh. After the panic was over--yes--she went on the pill.

In the meantime she mentioned the two girls she knew who had already had abortions. They were 11 years old.

Pregnancy with girls is a scary issue but don't forget that it takes a GUY to get them that way and it's at least half his responsibility. Too many families of pregnant girls fail to push for child support from the father. When "dad" has to work at McDonalds to pay his child support, he quickly learns to keep it Zipped up.

Anne Rainey said...

Anny--Thanks for mentioning the other half of the pregnancy issue, guys. It takes two! These girls aren't getting pregnant all by themselves!

Kelley Nyrae said...

Very true, Anny!! I think girls take a lot of it and people forget about that guys.

I totally agree with both Anne and Regina. Open communication with your children is a must. They have to know you support them and will give them the precautions they need like Regina said, no questions asked. Its a fact that most kids are going to explore with sex. Just telling them not to do it won't work. Let them know the downfalls, that its better to wait but if they are ready to make that decision you'll help them get the protection they need. Condoms for girls too, IMO. the pill helps with pregnancy but what about STD's? What if they guy doesn't have one? I'd rather know she has one and can tell him to use it rather than go without in the heat of the moment if the boy isn't prepared.

Cindy said...

Hey Anne, I feel like alot of the problem is the fact that mom's & dad's are working two jobs just to supply there kids with the best money can buy,they don't have time to have a relationship much less watch & know what there kids are up too,then when they are around,they want to be there friend.
I have two sons & I am there parent first, not there friend. Kids need stability,love & disipline. parents should of course meet there childrens needs, clothes,food water that sort of thing, but they should also set rules & stick with them. I dont care who's child they are,a child does not need a brand new car & only the name brand clothes that's in style,I'm not saying not to do the best you can,but I am saying being a good parent means loving that child enough to do what's best for them wheather they or you as there parent like it or not.
my sister-in-law works for a Dr. office & just this year so for there have been 5 12 year olds pregnant,in that one Dr.s office.
The parents excuses we're that they had to work,& that the girls wanted to date,so it was easier to just let them than to fight with them about it.
Sorry didn't mean to get so worked up.

Regina Carlysle said...

Kelley, that's a great idea and one I hadn't thought of. Girls who are sexually active should carry a condom too. STD's are RAMPANT. Better safe than sorry.

Yeah, Cindy, I know what you mean. Most of us want to do right by our children...teach them moral values and responsibility. I've always been the emotional backbone of my family and I'm happy my kids can come to me and tell me the truth and know I won't judge them or give them a ration of shit for being human. I've been known to discipline, too, but always with love. The key I think is to be able to communicate with them and help if you can.

Bottom line: our kids aren't LITTLE ADULTS and we make a big mistake when we let them run wild. We need to know who their friends are, know the friends' parents, etc.

Anne Rainey said...

Cindy--I've seen it so many times with parents, saying yes just to get them out of their hair. Not wanting to bother.

I also think it is VERY important to be the parent and not the friend.

Jen said...

I'd like to add another scenario into the discussion. A few years ago I worked with teenagers (on a volunteer basis). We had this one young girl who was bound and determined to have a baby. It was all she talked about. After long discussions with this girl, it came out that she was living in a really bad home life. Her comment to me was, "I just want something of my very own that will love ME". There are kids out there starving for love and they think if they have a baby, that will satisfy that need for love. So after that revelation came out and I pulled myself together, we sat down with a piece of paper and pen and listed out things that you would need for one week to take care of a baby (diapers, formula, wipes, baby food, etc). Then after the list was made, we went to the grocery store and put all of those items in a buggy and then I got out the calculator and we added it all up. Then I asked her "you're 14 years old, how are you going to pay for all of this?". She said she guessed her Mama would pay for it. I reminded her that it would be her baby, her responsibility. She was too young to get a job so how would she support her baby.

After we put away all the items we went and had another long talk. She was still of the mindset that she wanted something that would love her. I suggested going to the animal shelter and adopting a dog or a cat. That way she would learn responsibility in caring for the pet and she would get that unconditional love she was so desperate for.

I'd lost track of her over the years but ran into her back before Christmas in Target. She's an adult now with a husband and 2 beautiful little children.

Anne Rainey said...

Jen--now why am I not surprised that you figured out a way to help this girl? Can we clone you???!!! :)

It's so sad there there are parents out there who don't show their kids the love they deserve. At least it sounds like this girl got her happy ending. :)

Cindy said...

Jen,I just want to say one thing to you , about your comment,


awesome job.

Tonya said... picked a great topic....could write a book on this one. LOL!!! Anyway, I think that many kids think it would be cool to be parents....why?? is cool but is hard!!

As a child I wasn't able to talk to my parents about boys, sex or anything in between. When I was in the 4th grade a boy asked me if I had a c... I didn't know what it was, I asked my mom what it was that night. She told me that was disgusting and I was to tell that boy I didn't have one and that it was gross to be talking about it. Now...I agree it wasn't an appropriate thing for a 4th grade boy to ask, but....he did. I went back to school and looked like a complete idiot, because I was uninformed....I wished my mom had been more open....shared with me that though I had one, it was an inappropriate slang term, but she didn't. I didn't go to her after that with questions. Instead I relied on my friends, (which didn't always turn out to be the best advice or ideas) and I vowed that I wouldn't take that approach with my kids. I am honest with my kids.

We are a very open, family. I want my kids to know they can talk to us about everything....even if it's not something we don't agree is in their best interests. I know when to put my foot down and when to just listen. I know that when my daughters get to that phase (I'm not thinking they will all be virgins at marriage) we will have been prepared.

I agree with you Anne and when you said to be truthful with the kids....I 100% agree. My kids all know that I wasn't perfect, and I have openly admitted many of my mistakes....such as failing English in the 11th grade on purpose just to get out of Honors classes because all my friends were in College Prep....I know STUPID!!! My kids have benefited from knowing that I'm far from perfect.

Great topic!!!

Anne Rainey said...

Tonya--I'm sorry you weren't able to talk to your parents but kudos for being so open and honest with your own kids!

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Marvelous discussion. Jen, you are freaking BRILLIANT!

I have teenage boys. Neither is sexually active yet, but it's early years, and I expect it will happen. I would rather buy condoms than diapers. Both of them know this. We're very open about sex discussions in our household--I think knowing what I write makes it easier for them to approach me--and yes, they will have a large stash of supplies available when they need them!

And if they had pills/patches for guys, they'd already be on them!