Thursday, January 14, 2010

Random Rant About Societies "Don't become a parent" message to young people

First off, let me just emphasize that I'm not promoting teen pregnancy or suggesting that people who aren't ready throw caution to the wind and become a parent. It's sad I even have to put that in here but there it is.

That said, what the HELL is up with this idea that having children will ruin your life?! I see billboards all the time, meant to "scare" teens into having safe sex. The most annoying ones suggest that your life will be OVER if you have a baby or get a girl pregnant. "A baby costs $745/mo How much is YOUR allowance?" I won't even get into the consumerist garbage that makes a baby cost that much (like, hey, breastfeed your kid and consider using cloth diapers and shop Good-will or just trade clothes with a few other parents and suddenly your baby is practically free on a week to week basis, for the better part of a year!).

I get that teen pregnancy is a problem because the children being born potentially will suffer. I understand that. I just don't think LYING to our young people is how we solve the problem! Why do we do this?

For one thing, telling today's teenagers that having a baby will ruin their life is subliminally suggesting that THEY were the ruination of their parent's lives. Great confidence booster, guys, really. "Hey, you were a big giant mistake yourself so don't make any more of them!" Way to raise confident, productive members of society. Great way to insure that IF they do become parents, they are competent at it. Let's just start them off with the idea that their kids are an example of what fuck-ups they are! The common approach to parenting small children today is to shy away from SHAMING and yet we have that as our first line of defense against teen pregnancy? How does that make any sense? I don't understand how brainwashing our young adults into being ashamed of their bodies and their children is preventing them having sex? Because guess what, it's not working! Instead what we have is angry, resentful, scared shitless teenagers without any frigging clue what they are supposed to do with their little, shameful "mistakes".

Why not just stick with the TRUTH?

The truth is that having a baby, regardless of how old you are or what kind of financial straights you are in, WILL change every aspect of your life in ways you can't even comprehend until you are a parent. This is true for EVERYONE, not just irresponsible teenagers.

Being a good, stable, loving parent has very little to do with how old you are. It has to do with how selfless you can be, how responsible you can be and how well you understand the responsibility you have. I have known some very young mothers that make their "older, respectable" counterparts look like complete idiots when it comes to parenting.

What is being a parent really like? What is the truth about having a baby?

Being a good parent is the hardest thing you'll ever do. At first, every tiny seemingly insignificant need of that child is met by you and only you. Baby needs to fart? Your problem. Baby needs to eat? You feed it. Baby needs a bath? Your bathing it. YOU need a bath/pee/meal? Well, it will have to wait because baby is hungry/crying/teething whatever. That's not to scare you away, it's just the truth for EVERY SINGLE PARENT ON PLANET EARTH.

You will cry, rage, and feel like you're suffocating. You will miss countless parties due to fevers, sickness, diarrhea and just plain exhaustion. People will stop inviting you places because you have kids and it's complicated. You will loose friends and gain others. You won't look at anything the same way ever again. You children will fill your life up with so much wonder and joy you won't be able to contain it sometimes and THOSE tears are the best. The first time your baby visibly snuggles you, those first slobbery kisses, the first steps, the first, "I love you, too", all of those thing make every headache, every sleepless night (and there will be MANY) 100% worth it.

Did becoming a mother ruin my life? No. I had children before I should have, that's a fact. My life isn't ruined and I don't regret my children. I'm only sorry that I can't provide for them right now the way I think they deserve and that is a HUGE BIG THING. Trust me, when your little child looks at you with tears in their eyes because all their friends are doing something and they can't go because you can't afford it because you made some foolish decisions, it really hits home how everything you do affects your dependents. THAT is the truth. My life is richer, more full and at times, blissfully happy BECAUSE I have children. Far, far from ruined. But every. single. day I think about the fact that they could have what they deserve if I'd been more careful, more responsible. It's just the truth.

I believe that teenagers can be capable parents if we would just stop treating them like socieites parasites and treat them like adults. You want responsible 16yr olds? Quit insisting they are CHILDREN and expect them to act like adults. Yeah, they're young. They'll make mistakes. They lack life experience, that sort of thing. GIVE IT TO THEM. 16 yrs old doesn't make you stupid or incapable of learning the simple facts of life. Nature didn't make a mistake by allowing us to be fertile so young. Society, however, has made a mistake in forcing young men and women to stay children until their practically 20yrs old and the expecting them to suddenly have it all figured out as they leave college. HA. It's not working, people!

I hear some of the most vicious campaign-style messages to teenagers about pregnancy from the pro-life, anti-abortion movement. Ok, great, you're anti abortion and you want teens to quit doing that so you figure keep them from getting pregnant and you've fixed the problem. So we LIE TO THEM to keep that from happening except that teenagers are not any more stupid than any body else so it doesn't WORK.

Why not tell them the truth? You want to reduce abortions? Try actually supporting our young people. Oh, you're having a baby and you're only 16 and you're scared shitless? Let me HELP you. Congratulations, you're in for a wild ride. Being scared is good, it means you're human, lol. We are ALL scared shitless when we discover we are carrying our first babies! This teen mom and that one are perfectly capable if we don't SHAME them. Don't be ashamed of your pregnancy, you made a choice, this is the result, OWN IT. Now, let's see about helping you know what you're getting yourself into. Let's NOT insist you're a fuckup. Let's not insist your life is over. Instead, ok, the journey has begun. Let's give these women and young men the tools they need to succeed!

Educate them. Talk to them straight. Be fucking HONEST. Babies will not RUIN your life. They will transform it AND you. Are you ready for that? NO? Ok, that's fine, too. Here's how to prevent it. And while I'm on the subject of birth control, people, GET A CLUE. You can't be anti-abortion, anti-teen pregnancy AND anti-birth control! It's ridiculous thinking. People HAVE SEX. Get over it! It's what people do and no matter how hard you try to convince young people to wait wait wait, there are always going to be peopel that don't, can't, whatever. It's naive and STUPID to insist we convert the world to believe it's wrong to have sex before marriage. It's NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. Let's be realistic. Girls, if you're having sex and you aren't ready for the above described journey, reevaluate. Sex equals babies, that's what it's FOR. IF you aren't ready for babies, you aren't ready for sex. If for some reason, you can't dig that, USE BIRTH CONTROL. And don't let anyone tell you it's WRONG. Because those same jerks are going to then look down on you for having a freaking baby because you weren't using protection!

How many teen mothers would have an abortion if they weren't scared shitless that they'd loose their homes, ruin their lives and loose respect? Hmmmm??? The messages we are sending out are all counter-productive and worse than that, they are often in contradiction to each other!

So, sum-up. Having kids before you are ready to do so WILL have life-long implications for you and your children. It will NOT ruin your life, though. It WILL change it irrevocably. Stop telling our children that they were a mistake by telling them that babies ruin their lives. START telling our children that they are strong, capable, smart and that you believe in them. When they make a decision that lands them in trouble, support them. You want to stop abortions? Quit making it nearly impossible for a teen parent to get help. Quit scaring them away. Stop telling them they are dirty, gross, sinful, stupid, shameful, or self-destructive. Empower them by telling them the truth. And yeah, some of them are still going to be irresponsible. Duh, no matter what, the "poor" (and by this I mean selfish and irresponsible) will always be with us, regardless of age! But start empowering them and god forbid, respecting them, from a young age and see if they don't run with it!


Martin and Luschka said...

This is a great post. I don't have first hand experience, being 30 when I gave birth to my own baby, but I think you are so right. People need to learn to take responsibility for themselves, and they can't do that if they're not allowed to from a young age.

I was thinking today that I don't really feel that my daughter has changed my life as much as I thought she would, and certainly no more than a move, or a career change and so on would have done, but her arrival has changed me and maybe that's why the change hasn't been so all consuming. Does that make sense? It does in my head!

I honestly believe that communication, honesty, and openness are the ways to raise a well balanced child. If my daughter knows that she can come to me with anyting, talk to me about anything, then she will know what choices to make, and what their consequences are. And that starts from the day they're born, which is why I don't believe in 'crying it out' and do believe in baby wearing, etc but that's a different topic.

Great post. Good on you for saying your piece (and I love the new header)

Christina said...


i completely agree. :-)