Babies are wonderful aren’t they? They’re so soft and they smell oh so good when you snuggle up with them.
This is a stock photo from an editing program.
It seems that babies are so wonderful they have become a fashion statement of sorts among young girls and young women. (For arguement’s sake we will use the ages 15 – 23.) It’s like getting a fabulous new purse or those oh so cute shoes we saw last week in the mall. Unfortunately, we can’t discard them, donate them to the thrift store or even give them to our BFF when they aren’t the latest trend anymore. Nope, they are ours to have and hold forever. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to be; right?
I find myself deeply disturbed by the sheer number of young women in the aforementioned age group who are having babies. They seem to be overjoyed by the news when they are told by the clinic that indeed they have a little human being growing inside of them. Maybe I am just too old fashioned to understand the modern family dynamics and why anyone would want to subject themselves to societal ridicule, harsh living conditions, and put their whole life on hold — at least for 18 years.
I don’t view myself as an expert on love and relationships, but I think I do know a thing or two about manipulation, infatuation and lonliness. I’m only using as references my own life and the people that I know. When I was a young girl there was a man who made a very powerful statement that sticks with me even today: "I wonder if she is in love with the guy or if she is in love with the wedding?" This was in regards to a friend who had announced she was getting married at the ripe old age of 17. She, of course, had to wait until she was 18 for the actual ceremony lacking her parents’ consent. It leads me to believe that young women may be in love with the idea of a baby but not-so-much the fact of being a mother.
When I was in high school, like many others, it wasn’t considered, by the peers, a bad thing to date a college man. However, it was somewhat frowned upon to date older men in general. In my hometown it wasn’t really an issue because the nearest college was sixty miles away. Everyone seemed to be dating someone from school or a neighboring school with the rare exception of those who dated outside of the norm. Those being people like myself, who dated a man that was too old to be my boyfriend. I was sixteen and he was twenty-two. Before you get out the shotguns and hunt this guy down, it wasn’t him it was ME. I chased after him right along with a couple of other girls. Shocking news girls: I may have won the day; but my current life reflects the aftermath of that relationship. This guy is the father of my three girls. He wasn’t a bad guy at all. However, as a young girl with fanciful ideas and my now long lost invicibility, I thought I could fix all the problems that I chose to overlook – like alcoholism and bipolar. I could make him into what I wanted him to be. It does not work. As the infamous Dr. Laura has said time and time again, "You get what you got. If you don’t like it, get rid of it." (in reference to relationships not babies)You can’t change people no matter what you do. They are what they are and only they can choose to change themselves in their own time. After several years of a long drawn out story; I had my first baby when I was nineteen years old. My second baby when I was twenty-one and my third baby when I was twenty-four. I was living three hundred miles away from my family and had no one to help me. Fortunately for the young people I know they at least have their families…at least some of them do.
Now, you may understand why I was devestated when my daughter told me she was pregnant at sixteen years old. I cried so hard and was so angry. Contrary to popular belief, I was not angry with her, I was angry with me. I blamed myself for it. I wonder if I am alone in this feeling??? Anyway, after the initial shock wore off I knew that I HAD to be there for her no matter what. And I was and still am.
In recent conversations with my daughter she has questioned why people don’t listen to her when it comes to being pregnant. Her experience being a pregnant teenager was no picnic but it wasn’t all that different than the pregnant teenagers before her. Once the group of friends found out that she was pregnant she found herself very much alone. You think that your friends won’t abandon you and they even tell you that they won’t, but they do. You aren’t any fun anymore. You can’t go out and have fun with them anymore. You can’t after the baby is born either because babysitters are too expensive. You are for the most part no longer part of the group. You’re an outsider. You find yourself sitting at home alone with the precious little package you thought was going to love you and make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. You think that the man is going to stand by your side forever and you will forge through life as a family. It doesn’t happen. It might for a few months, maybe even for a year or two and then it’s over. It is RARE that the relationship works out. So rare that you might want to prepare yourself for being a single parent from day one. When I first said that my daughter was pregnant and was certain that things would work out, a commenter Diane said that this would happen and she was right. If you don’t listen to me then listen to Diane.
So there you are with little precious all dressed up in their cute little outfits with no where to go and no one to come and see them. Resentment builds up towards the friends and then that resentment over time can transfer to little precious. This is one of the basic causes of child abuse among teenage mothers. If you find yourself in the world of resentment choose to do the right thing and get help. No one wants to take your baby away from you. They want you to be a good and loving mother. Learn to be a mother first. You can’t put the baby back. You can’t give it to your friends. You can give it up for adoption but the liklihood of that happening after birth is pretty slim. Join a support group for young mothers. Surround yourself with strong women who can help you when you need it. To my knowledge none of the young girls I know are abusive parents, but for some it could be only a matter of time.
Another piece of advice for young mothers is this: Your parents raised you. They have been parents and look forward to a wonderful mid-life. It doesn’t matter if they are single or married. It is unfair of you to put the responsibility solely on your parents. I enjoy spending time with my grandkids as do many grandparents, but, that does not mean I want to spend the next twenty years being a parent again. Oh, we would never outright tell you that we don’t want too, well, maybe some of us would, but I think deep down most don’t want that at all. We are more than willing to help when you need us, but we can’t take your place as that child’s parent.
Young girls, if you don’t listen to another thing that adults tell you, please hear this. Men are wonderful and it is great fun to be in a relationship. But if you are 15, 16 or even 17 and are being wooed by a 20something ask yourself these questions: Why can’t he get a girlfriend his own age? Why is he willing to risk going to jail to date you when he could just as easily get the same thing from a woman his own age?
You are beautiful and alluring there is no denying that fact. Men like beautiful and alluring when it comes to women. Real men don’t date little girls. Real men don’t even consider relationships with young girls. I know you think you are an adult or almost an adult and can think for yourself, but are you thinking for yourself or is there something more going on in the relationship? What happens when you aren’t the perky, pretty teenager anymore? What do you think is going to happen for reals when you tell Mr. Twenty-Something you are pregnant? In the moment it might be wonderful, but do try to think about what is going to happen nine months down the road.
As young women of the twenty-first century, where it takes two incomes to live the lives your parents do, you have only one option to succeed: Don’t get pregnant. Little precious will come along soon enough when you are truly in love. For most that means when you are married; for some it means a comitted relationship. Either way, don’t do it. The hardships and struggles that come with it are not worth it.
Dare to dream and dream big. Follow your dreams not your hormones. Have I made my point? Do you understand? Your mantra for teenage years:
Babies are wonderful. Babies are fine as long as that baby is not mine.