Don Rogers: Teen pregnancy becomes cool
Vail CO, Colorado
No doubt as the father of a 17-year-old beauty, I must say this new age of “Juno” bothers me.
Suddenly it’s hip to be pregnant while still in high school. Jamie Lynn Spears here, the daughter of a conservative vice presidential candidate there.
I don’t like it. My discomfort goes beyond intellect, rationality, the biological fact that we ask our children to put off nature’s incredible hormonal tug for way too long.
Children get pregnant and become parents themselves. Do you beat them over the head about it, make it a stigma, make an example of a teen mom as social outcast once the deed is done?
Well, no. I appreciate how the educators, health-care professionals and parents find ways for teen mothers to finish high school.
But I sense this has moved a bit beyond help and perhaps to a nice way to get some extra attention for the girls. What was once a setback and mistake we made the best of has become a point of … pride?
Mom ” 16 or 17 ” glows. Younger girls look up to her. So mature, and a beautiful baby on the way! The boy who shares equal responsibility may or may not be in the picture at this point. But who cares, really?
The real difficulties fade into fine print. The stunted opportunities, the sometimes brutal facts of adolescent parenthood, the demographic tide against these young women. All that seems forgotten in the oohs and coos and sweet fantasies young girls have, with no way of knowing just how far those are from reality.
Intellectually at least, I know I overreact. A certain percentage of girls will always get pregnant too soon. An abortion will haunt those who have one, particularly in later years. Keeping their child of course has its own host of consequences, indeed lots of them very happy.
The vast majority of girls will have their children in their maturity. Society benefits most by supporting the fraction of girls who wind up pregnant in their mid-teens.
I know all this.
Still, this thing cuts deeper on me now, while my daughter negotiates her crucial years. I find myself very bothered by cute, witty “Juno”; every celeb magazine cover with a adolescent mom; and now even conservative politicos trying to win a presidential race who make this sound like no big deal and even pretty cool. For once I wish they’d just stick with their smug self-righteousness about social issues.
I’m just not OK with making teen motherhood sound quite so wonderful.
It’s not often I’m to the right of Rush Limbaugh on something. But then, who becomes president is not nearly so important to me as my daughter.
Don Rogers is the editor and associate publisher of the Vail Daily, Vail Trail and Eagle Valley Enterprise. He can be reached at 748-2920 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He welcomes your comments.