What I learned in class tonight:

Teen pregnancy is “icky.”


But seriously, while I was busy tuning out what was actually going on in the class, I was thinking about how this kind of framing (and, yes, I am absolutely not making up the word icky in this context) is really problematic. Yes, perhaps some people’s idea of The Perfect World is one where teenagers never get pregnant and kids aren’t substance abusers, but for better or worse, that’s not The Real World. And everytime I hear someone tearing their hair out about how awful it is that there are teenage mothers, all I can think is–what about those teenage mothers who turn out to be really awesome moms?

I just think that young girls are already bombarded with enough negative reinforcement about their bodies and their choices (or lack thereof). It reminds me of a story my mom told me once about a priest (I think) who spoke in one of her classes when she was young. He was going on and on about how horrible it is when kids don’t have a mother and a father (this was before the hideous spectre of gay marriage, so the sanctity of marriage folks mostly just had divorce to rag on) because everyone knows that children with single parents just can’t have a normal, nurturing childhood. And my mother, bless her heart, finally got up the gumption to say that she was raised by a single mother.

Anyway. I’m not advocating ignoring teen pregnancy or anything. I just wish that education could be more positive, rather than focusing on The Awful Problems Of These Awful Teens And How Awful What They Go Through Is.


6 Responses to What I learned in class tonight:

  1. linaria says:

    There’s a few problems I have with the whole “teen pregnancy sucks” argument, and you’ve got a couple of them up there…because yeah, it’s hard to be a young mom, especially a single mom, and go to college, get a job, etc. etc. But many people overlook the fact that some young women want to be mothers, and they deserve support and education about that role.

    Another major problem I have is that wanting to prevent teen pregnancy is all well and good, but that won’t help at all if you don’t also focus on teaching young women AND men how to build stable, healthy relationships. I know a lot of programs understand this component, but I would like to see more honest acceptance of the fact that teenagers are going to have relationships and sex, and more publicity of how to have serious conversations about relationship issues, how to set boundaries, etc, etc.

    At least, I know I could have used that kind of advice when I was younger.

  2. pandanose says:

    Y’know, it’s funny, because when I was a teenager I was in a theater company that addressed those very issues–teen relationships, sexuality, body image, pregnancy–for primarily middle and high school audiences.

    But because that theater company is part of the education branch of Planned Parenthood, which is having a funding crisis because budgets have increased for abstinence-only education and decreased for everything else, the company is in jeopardy right now.

    (I’ll have more on that in a future post–a very good friend is involved, so I can’t get super in-depth without her okay.)

  3. annajcook says:

    I also think it’s weird that people talk about teen pregnancy as if it’s this modern phenomenon–a sign that our society is going to hell in a handbasket. Um . . . young people have been getting pregnant and becoming parents for probably several millennia. YES we don’t want to romanticize parenthood, YES we want young people to have the tools to prevent unwanted pregnancy . . . but if you make an informed decision to become a parent, you shouldn’t be treated like shit.

    This reminds me of a family Mary Pipher talks about in either Reviving Ophelia or The Shelter of Eachother, in which one of the daughters got married really young (in her teens) and had children. Her parents were worried that they’d done something wrong, but Pipher’s argument was that for this young woman, that was the life she wanted for herself and she and her partner were making it work. Who knows how it went in the long run . . . but just because you’re young doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll suck at parenthood or partnership.

    Thanks for sharing this link over at Feministe :).

  4. pandanose says:

    I see where you’re coming from, but I think there’s actually another group who sees teen pregnancy rates as an alarming return to an earlier era, where women were married much younger and starting families without access to birth control and reproductive rights. Now, granted, today the issue is usually single teen mothers, but I get the sense that some of the panic is coming from an oh shit, I thought we fixed this! perspective.

  5. Pregnancy Guidelines offers information on all aspects of getting pregnant, and pregnancy that will allow you to make informed decisions about your prenatal care and learn great tips for a healthy pregnancy! Topics include pregnancy symptoms, preterm labor signs, prenatal care, pregnancy complications, your pregnancy week by week, nutrition, labor signs, natural childbirth, breastfeeding & attachment parenting, new baby care, postpartum care, and more!

  6. hawaii29 says:

    To know that you’ve thought about how there is a possibility that awesome young moms exist makes me really happy. I’m really glad you mentioned your thoughts on your blog about how education looks at teen parents, which I do not feel is very helpful at all. I believe that sometimes people focus too much on the bad things about teenage pregnancy rather than trying to prevent it and believe that teenagers will just listen to what they say. I think the most important thing to do is let these young teens know about what can really happen if they were to make the choices they are thinking about. I’m also very happy that you’re open minded to the issue. So glad I was able to read your blog.

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