Sunday, 12 October 2008

Teenage pregnancy

Amusing though I found the film 'Juno' to be (see previous post), I also had reservations about it's message. Coasting along the zeitgeist, did art follow life or vice versa? teen pregnancies seem to be the order of the day: Britney Spears younger sister, Jamie Lynn, and of course Sarah Palin's daughter. 
For several decades, certainly when I was growing up, becoming a teenage mother was considered a tragedy. But is it? Certainly the scores of women that I know that have left getting pregnant too late (trying IVF desperately in their 40's, seeking sperm donors) would revise their opinion on that issue. 
The right to bear children is a fundamental human right. Clearly there is an optimum age, biologically, to have children (between 18 and 35). In fact, even that has changed in my lifetime. You used to be considered an elderly mother after the age of 27. Now more 30-34 year old women have children than 20-24 year olds. In the West that is. 
Even getting pregnant at 18 is considered ridiculously young. But why? 

Anyway I've had this post on the back burner for a while...but this article puts the case against teen pregnancy being the new cool thing to do very well; particularly the writer's observation that in the film Juno, pregnancy is treated as no more problematic than a bout of acne.


  1. the first time I got a girl pregnant
    was the first time for me.
    five times in one day .
    I was 15
    my parents literally shit themselves.
    the girl was 23 and had permission
    from the aforementioned parental

    permission obtained during, or just after a three way she had with the rent's.

    one of the joys of being a parent is behaving properly at just such a crux.
    the teen pregnancy part.

    three in a bed perhaps, for some,
    but not for me.

    being supportive, kind , understanding ,
    of a open heart,comes naturally
    to me ,would that it did for all.

  2. Oh my God, I am so shocked, I just came on here to agree with Marmite Lover that (as James said) "life's no disaster". Pregnancy should be a joyful thing, and it's so unnatural the way we view it as a major inconvenience. I can't believe I haven't already got several kids by 27, what is wrong with my life?

  3. I know C E. My mothering hormones really kicked in at your age.

    Obviously I don't want my teenager to get pregnant, or even have sex for that matter ( I do have a chainsaw and I know how to use it). But if the worst comes to the worst, I do agree with Sarah Palin, keep the baby. We'd cope, find a way and I think abortion really fucks you up psychologically forever. Well it did me.

    I think the whole attitude to fertility is unnatural. It's all about fitting in with industrialised society. Having children is the most important and natural thing. Not having a job. Not having holidays in Hawaii. Not having a double income.

    How can women let other people bring up their children?

  4. I'm just back from a week in France (or rather Paradise, as I now like to call it) and you've really softened the usual on-return, doom'n'gloom blow. Having said that, this most recent post made me really weepy (but in a good way). Keep on keeping on, ML. Fabulous stuff, thank you.

  5. Aw, Animal Disco, I'm glad you had a good holiday. One good thing about not having kids is that you can go away outside of school holidays!
    Good to see you back.

  6. I had a look at those statistics quoted in the article about the impact of an absent father. First of all they suggest that children who live apart from their non-biological parent are more likely to be poor and to experience educational, emotional and health problems, engage in criminal behaviour etc. I'd like to know if they examined whether, on balance, the socio-economic position of their parents also had an impact on those odds. It seems like a pretty narrow perspective to imply that those things are caused by not living with a biological father, full stop.

    The article (and the figures) also imply that young mothers would be better off marrying the fathers of their first child, which we know is not true in a lot of cases due to the immaturity and incompatibility of the people involved. I'm sure the stats for children of parents who go through a divorce are also more prone to alcohol and drug abuse.

    The upshot for me is that it doesn't matter how we promote (or denigrate) teen pregnancy - sex education and responsible contraceptive use should be the ultimate goal. Those kids aren't going to stop having sex no matter what you tell them.

  7. I have mixed feelings about the biological father stuff. They don't have to be biological. My daughters father has not been around, not paid maintenance. As far as I'm concerned he's not her father except genetically. If I'd had a partner during this time, they would have been her father. As it is, my dad has been her dad.
    But it is important to have some kind of male role model.
    I've never been in my daughter's position. I had a dad. I can't imagine what it feels like not to have one. I'm her dad, I suppose.
    She is going through all kinds of difficulties, which may merely be due to her being a teenager, but of course, I worry that it's due to lack of father. A mothers place is in the wrong. It's just one long guilt trip really. Especially if you are a single mother.
    I do feel that the last 'minority' group that it's ok to slag off are single mothers (not single dad's, they are still heroes). Most of us didn't choose to be in this position.
    We were either abandoned. Or the guy acted so badly we had to leave. Or no man wanted to commit. Men live in a fantasy world most of the time, prolonging their youth forever, imagining that they deserve some total babe even if they are short, bald, fat and poor. (Nothing wrong with any of that, don't get me wrong, it's just that they can't expect to date Angelina Jolie if they are not Brad Pitt).

    Leaving many women in the position that they had to sperm thieve, or get sperm donors, be forced into a position where they had to do it on their own. The urge to parent is sooo strong,(once it hits you)it's beyond logic. Nobody should blame these women.


I would love to hear what you think of this post! I try to reply to every comment (if there is a delay, I am probably away from an internet connection or abroad)