“Mom, I'm Pregnant”…
“Mom, I am pregnant” is a sentence that a mother never wants to hear from her teenage daughter. And no matter how much time we spend teaching and preaching our children the consequences that come along with adult relationships, they are going to ignore us at times thinking they are invincible, throw caution to the wind and have sex. So what would happen if your teen daughter came home and told you she was pregnant? Who would you blame? More than likely you would be quick to blame the boy because no daughter of yours would ever do something like that without the influence of some ill mannered, no count, misfit boy. Or what would you do if your teen son came home and told you that his girlfriend was pregnant? Of course it would be HER fault. Obviously she tricked him into having sex because your good boy would never ever de-flower a girl and impregnate her. Oh and there’s that word again…SEX you cannot talk about it because it’s dirty right? Well you better talk about it because it is a real word; a real action that comes with real consequences.
No matter how much talking we do with our children (and remember we must talk with them not to them…there’s a difference.) some of us will have to come to grips with a teen aged pregnancy. No parent is ever out of the proverbial woods when it comes to the possibility of becoming young grandparents. Society sells sex in a way that in my opinion implies it to be more of a recreational activity than an intimate physical and emotional relationship between two people.
As a young girl growing up on a farm in rural Virginia life was slow and simple. Time moved at a slower pace back then and life was relatively ideal. I was blessed to have a lot of family around me growing up and up until my mid teen years I had both sets of grandparents. Being extremely close to my maternal grandparents I spent a lot of time with them. They were hard working, honest people who loved me more than I can put into words. Nothing could have changed my mind about them until one day shortly after my 22nd birthday I found out a bit of news that nearly took my breath away. My grandmother had a child before she married my grandfather.
In today’s world, that’s not a big deal to most. It happens all the time you might say. But back in the 1940’s, that was a big deal. Most young girls who found themselves in this particular situation were sent away, had their baby, gave it up for adoption, returned home never to speak of it again. But you see, my grandma was different. She chose to go against the grain; she kept her little boy and raised him. It wasn’t until three years later that she met and married my grandfather and they became a family. In the years that followed their family would grow with the births of three more daughters.
After finding out this “secret” my admiration for my grandparents grew. Some may have been embarrassed by the knowledge that their grandmother did “that”. But I on the other hand found great comfort in realizing just how strong she really was. And while I admire her strength and courage to take on such a task by herself all those years ago, I believe it took an even stronger, more courageous man to take on the role of husband and father to a child he did not conceive. I realized that my sweet, loving gentle grandfather was a giant who faced adversity head on and did it with grace and dignity.
I can only imagine what my great grandparents thought of their daughter coming home pregnant or my grandfathers parents reaction when he told them he was marrying a woman who had a baby already. But theirs was a love story that grew beyond the confines of an illegitimate child. Theirs was a story of commitment, honesty, dedication and a love that at times was difficult but always true. I am sure that through the years they met with adversity, gossip and hatefulness as a result of it all, but no one would ever have known it. What most people would take as a tragedy, misfortune or mistake, they saw it as life and they lived it.
As the parent of teen children I pray that I never have to hear the words “I am going to be a parent”, however I also know that it is not a death sentence. I am not advocating teen sex; I am however advocating open communication, acceptance and understanding. Children make poor decisions some times and sometimes the consequences of those decisions are pretty substantial. And unfortunately, the minute a teen girl becomes pregnant she often loses her identity and becomes a victim of stereotyping. She stops being the high school senior applying for college and becomes the unwed, (insert hateful expletive here) standing in the welfare line without any possibility of having a successful life. To society she becomes a statistic instead of success. Society beats her down, makes her believe she can’t achieve success and therefore ends up proving society to be right. But we can change that, we have to become part of the solution and not the problem. We must learn how to reach out and help; not hinder.
Lifetime TV is a leader in eye opening, mind changing, informative programming and once again has risen to the top and produced a movie that focuses on the destructive effects stereotyping has on our society. "The Pregnancy Project," starring Alexa Vega is based on a true story of a young Hispanic teenager who decides to pretend she is pregnant and record her experience as part of her high school senior project. While the character pretends to be pregnant the results are real. Friendships are compromised, family relationships are strained, reputations are tarnished and shame is passed out like bulletins at a Sunday morning church service.
"The Pregnancy Project" is a must see movie for teens and adults. Watching this movie with your teens will allow you to begin an open dialogue with them about sex, responsibilities, stereotyping and communication.
Tune in to Lifetime on January 28 at 8pm et/pt because I believe it just might change the way you communicate with your teen and how you view un-wed teen parents.