Thursday, July 20, 2006

Is teen pregnancy really a bad thing?

Here's a fascinating article titled Let's Have More Teen Pregnancy which argues that teen pregnancy is not in itself a problem. Read the article to see why.

I'd love to see some discussion on the ideas presented there. Do you agree, disagree, or have thoughts to add?


Michelle said...

Very interesting article. I like how the author hones in on the importance of extended family and the success of young marriages.

My husband and I were married when I as 22 (a few months out of college) and he was 25. I was the only one of my immediate classmates and friends getting married so young. When our daughter was born when I was 25 all my coworkers couldn't believe we were having our first child at such a young age. But I wouldn't change it for the world.

I guess from the perspective of this article we were still 'old' when we were married and having children, but society's perspective made us seem so 'young.' We just look forward to enjoying each other's company once our children are grown, and hopefully grandchildren before we're too 'old' to chase after them!

MommyHAM said...

Ok, first to be fair, I didn't read the WHOLE article - am at work and just happened to be skimming personal blogs (PK) for updates on friends.

second - I'm the child of a teen parent; particularly the unwed type, but even had she been married to my father - it still would not have been good. There are many lasting scars from having a mother who was too young, and not at all healed from her own painful upbringing (of which she was still in the midst of when I came along).

On the other hand, I have two really good friends at church who were 17 and 18 when they married, because they were pregnant, and they are great families.

I married young (19), but out of choice. My daughter arrived just before my 22nd b'day.

There are many young marriages which don't succeed - and in fact, I saw somewhere the other day that divorce rates are higher within the Christian realm than they are within the "worldly" realm - 54% vs, 50% respectively. Soooo....

I personally, don't buy it.

Mark Congdon said...

This is a fascinating article. I think it is important, though, to recognize that the author is not necessarily recommending teen marriages in our current society. Given the fragmentation of the family and the individualism of our society, I think most young families would be lost in their immaturity... and I have seen many examples of exactly that.

However, I agree with the article in this sense: if those familial/relational ills in our society, the ones that lead to disconnected individuals rather than closely-connected family communities, could be fixed... then early marriages would probably be preferable to late ones.

The societal changes I envision would not be trivial:

* American society focuses on pleasure and gratification of desires, highly selfish pursuits. This tendency is most pronounced in children, who are encouraged (both by marketing and by parental capitulation) to be highly self-pleasure-focused. Such self-focusedness is death to a marriage... but it is also not unreasonable for children to learn to focus on others and be self-sacrificial by the time they are teens. Establishing this foundational principle would go a long way toward establishing healthy marriages at any age.

* American society works against commitment. Democracy is a good form of government, I think. Capitalism is a good form of economy, as well (for the most part). But when those same principles are extended to our relationships, community effectively dies. True relational community is built on trust, which is achieved through conflict resolution, which is such hard work that it can only be accomplished in a framework of commitment. In a society that says that family is whoever you're with at the moment... that if your relationships aren't "working for you", then you should find some that do... in that framework, with no commitment, deep conflict resolution never takes place, and true relational community never grows. Teaching children how to resolve conflict, building trust through relational commitment, would go a long way toward building healthy marriages at any age.

* American society is a leisure society. We abhor work. We do it to the degree that it is necessary, but we resent the fact that it is necessary... and we spend a good deal of money on lottery tickets and gambling as a society, hoping that it won't be necessary anymore. How does this affect marriage? Marriage is relational work, and it is hard work. As a society, we need to learn to find fulfillment in hard work and a job well done, rather than resenting work and glorifying leisure. If we can teach our children to expect to work hard in life (and marriage), and to find joy in that work, that will also go a long way toward building healthy marriages at any age.


Rev Dr Mom said...

B.F.Skinner argued that women should marry and bear children at a young age so that they could devote themselves to careers after their childbearing was complete. But the real world doesn't accomodate that pattern very well.

I married at 19 and had my first child at 22. I had three children by the time I was 28, and a fourth child when I was almost 39. If I had it to do over, I would not marry so young, and I would not have had my children so soon. I was a much better parent in my thirties than I was when I was younger--I was more confident, more sure of who "I" was as a person, what I wanted out of life.

For me, and for many who marry young I think, getting married was my way of being independent and "grown up", but I think there are better ways to do this. I am glad that none of my children married early.

Because I dropped out of college when I married I ended up going back to college when my children were young. There are some advantages to being an older student, but being a student and parenting at the same time is tough--and I did it through three degrees; four if you count the M.Div but that was after the first three kids were grown.

Beyond the economic issues that make it difficult for younger couples to support a family, I don't believe that developmentally teens are ready to be parents. Why rush it?

Douglas_Coombs said...

hehehe, I've put a perplexed face on many a relative by suggesting that my sister-in-law and her boyfriend of 3 years just get engaged and get married. Of course, they are both in school and that would complicate things. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. However, it seems that most young people in college never even consider it. I've had four friends who married while still getting undergraduate degrees. They were mature enough to handle it and have done quite well. Graduate degrees were out of the question, but that hasn't stopped them from having very full, rich lives.