Teen Pregnancy

I am still in shock about the present one. This girl looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. She looks like SHE needs a mother. “Where is her mother?” I ask my daughter, a student who works there on weekends. “No idea.” She blithely replies. I am flabbergasted. How can this tiny-framed young thing care for a baby when she clearly cannot protect herself? “How does she fall pregnant so many times?” I am too shocked to pay attention to syntax and word order. I want answers. I want to know how this is possible. I keep thinking the real mom will magically pop out of the wings of this bleak young life and take control. No, Tessa, was not raped. In fact the boy with her is her boyfriend. They have sex regularly and they’ve made mistakes. That’s all… The rising number of pregnant teens in the United States this past decade is recognized by experts as a significant symptom of general societal decay. I am a parent. I have a teenage daughter. I do not see it as a hypothesis about a decaying society. I’m more concerned about where all the parents have gone. Is it true that they all, like myself, work so hard to afford the American Dream that they’re almost too tired to parent. What does that say about a society? The one I live in is urban and affluent but the children my kids bring home look more like the neglected offspring of struggling industrial, working-class families. The rising rate of teen pregnancies is attributed to inconsistent applications of birth control combined with pretty consistent engagement in sexual activities. One needs to distinguish between the teen pregnancy of an 18-year-old girl with a steady boyfriend of several years and the results of promiscuous behavior in the face of seeming parental indifference. It is easy to see the consequences of this indifference, but where does it start? What makes parents unconscious of the gritty details of their teenager’s life? It all comes back to the changing role of the family; changing to the extent, that some lives behind the perfect walls of their insular single-family homes, no longer even display any of what we have learnt to associate with the word. If family is a concept that is rapidly being stripped of meaning, then how can we act surprised when sex, pregnancy and childrearing become severely decontextualized? When we look to the rest of the world, as we must, to see if we see the same level of disintegration, we are greeted with statistics that show us, in no uncertain terms, that what we are experiencing here is not global but culture specific. Perhaps we do not yet know what it means but it must cause us to question. What are we sacrificing family to, here in the home of the free? To what god are we offering up the immeasurably precious things to? Life is being born to life that has barely taken root yet. This is a serious situation that must cause us to pause in our endeavors and ask if it is all worth it.

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