Teen Pregnancy: When Children Want Children
Teen pregnancy happens accidentally all the time (though apparently the numbers have been declining). But what about when a teen girl wants to have a baby? It might not be overwhelmingly common, but The Maury Show has profiled plenty of them so there are certainly some girls like this out there. And now with Jamie Lynn Spears -- a supposed role-model for young girls -- pregnant, I'm just not sure what to think.
(Disclaimer: I am not talking about accidental teen pregnancies, certainly not the ones where the teens turn their lives around to do the best they can by their child.)
Fifteen-Year-Old Wants a Baby
The case in this video baffles me. It seems like the mother is loving (though maybe not assertive enough) and tries to be around for her child. Any ideas on why this kid feels so empty?
Who Are These Girls?
From what I can tell, these 13-, 14-, and 15-year-olds on Maury Povich's show who want to get pregnant don't quite understand what they're asking for.
It looks to me something like a boy of that age who is determined to join the Army, but by the time he is old enough realizes that it is totally wrong for him; if these girls were old enough to know a little bit about themselves (and the way the world works), their minds would probably be set on something else.
They're either not educated enough or voluntarily ignoring the fact that birthing and raising a child are not easy and will not make their lives more fun.
Certainly no girl I knew when I was in high school wanted to have a child at that time (though some of them got pregnant) because we all knew how much work it was and that our social lives would pretty much be over. You can't go out to hang out with your friends the same way when your baby needs to be nursed every two hours. I thought that was obvious.
So why are these girls ignoring that information? What do they really want?
Now, I'm not a psychologist, but some of this seems pretty obvious after a few minutes of contemplation. Apparently it's obvious to Yahoo Answers, too. The consensus seems to be as follows:
- The girls want somebody to love and to love them back, unconditionally. Even the crazy girl in the video admits it. Either they're not getting it from their parents, or they're not allowing themselves to receive the love from their parents. But they certainly want it.
- They think it will be "cute" to have a tiny person to dress up and parade around. Undoubtedly it is fun to shop for baby clothes and dress them up, but that is a tiny part of motherhood and is certainly not a reason to be a mother.
- Their physical and sexual hormones are kicking in and possibly overwhelming their ability to reason (possibly because of weak reasoning skills in the first place).
- Most teen girls want to grow up faster. I know I did. Taking on the responsibility of a baby is a great way to "grow up," though ironically not a responsible one.
- They just don't have anything constructive to focus their energies on, be it school or a hobby or an ambition.
There is also always the occasional case of a girl trying to get pregnant to "trap" her boyfriend into staying with her or even marrying her because she believes they are truly in love.
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What to Do, What to Do?
On Maury Povich's show, these girls are forced to talk to prisoners and to former teen mothers who "tell it like it is." Sometimes they're made to care for a baby for a day to see how hard it is. Allegedly this works, and all the girls change their minds.
Honestly, when it gets to the point of, "I'm gonna have a baby no matter what my mama says," I think that what Maury does is the only option: try to show them how it will really be.
But we should be intercepting this long before it gets to that point. Children, especially teenagers, need active parenting with reassurance that they are valuable and loved. They need to be encouraged to succeed in school to the best of their abilities and to develop hobbies to constructively spend the rest of their time.
We also need to teach our children about the value of life: it is not ours to give and take at whim with no concern for the consequences. And children should have concrete responsibilities according to their abilities to uphold them, whether it's walking the dog every day or cooking dinner every Thursday night.
I understand that these things are tough to ask of, say, a single mother (as it seems the mother in the video clip is), but they're still possible. Pay attention for warning signs in your children and try to keep lines of communication open. That may be easier said than done, but to give up trying is to completely give up on your child, and I don't think anyone wants to do that.