Islande is a 16 year old writer at RadicalParenting.com, a parenting blog written from the kid’s perspective with 80 teen interns. Born in Haiti and currently in Jacksonville, Florida, Islande, wants to be a psychologist so that she can help others with their problems and issues and just be an ear to their venting.
“Mom, Dad…I’m pregnant.” Now I’m pretty sure that no parent wants to hear those words come out of the mouth of their teenage daughter, but the reality is that when it happens, it happens. The daughter now has a child, another being, another soul to take care of and the parents now have shame, shock and surprise to deal with. But then, what about everyone else in the mix? What about the baby’s father, the cousins, the siblings? What about the sisters, like me?
When I first heard the news that my 18 year old sister, fresh out of high school, was pregnant, it hit me. Hard. Not as hard as it hit my folks, but still pretty hard. I didn’t want to believe it. Despite the evidence right in front of me, I still denied it, until I just had to face reality and see that this was going to happen. My sister had gotten pregnant and will have a child.
When I did finally accept the truth, it was time to face facts. I tried looking at the positives but a negative fact kept creeping in not too far behind. For instance, I would think, “I’m going to be an aunt!” Then the negative thoughts came: “Yes, but at 16? You’re an aunt to your 18 year old sister’s child!” The only positive outlook that I see is one: a baby will be born. I just have a soft spot for babies. They’re my weapon of vulnerability. Once I see or hold a baby, nothing else matters.
There are many others out there like me, others of different ages, races, and genders, who know what I may be going through. Some may be experiencing it worse than I am. And it seems as if everyday, more and more teens are getting pregnant and it’s no longer, in my opinion, a “big deal”. You’re a teen pregnant out of wedlock? No problem! It’s normal! Society will take care of you! Everyday it’s turning less and less into a serious issue and more and more into a…well, a fad, a trend, an okay thing.
According to FamilyFirstAid.org, “The United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and births in the western industrialized world. Teen pregnancy costs the United States at least $7 billion annually. Thirty-four percent of young women become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20 — about 820,000 a year. Eight in ten of these teen pregnancies are unintended and 79 percent are to unmarried teens. Most teenagers giving birth before 1980 were married whereas most teens giving birth today are unmarried.” The sad part is that teen pregnancy is becoming widely publicized. Teen celebrities and actresses, such as Jamie Lynn Spears, are becoming pregnant. Movies, like Juno, are portraying teen mothers. Books, music videos, magazines are all treating this issue so lightly. But who is out there to say no? Who out there is getting the point out to our teens, preventing them to not get pregnant?
The only name that comes to mind at the top of my head is Maury. I watch his shows all the time. Not all of his shows speak of “lie detector tests” and “DNA tests”. Certain episodes address teen mothers and want-to-be teen mothers. Guests, such as real girls who experience it and are still fighting for child support, trying to find their baby’s father or fighting each day for financial security for them and their baby, appear on the show. But they can’t go back in time. You can’t move back, only forward in life. But it’s sad and unbelievable. Like Maury likes to say to his audience and special guests, “You’re only a child yourself. How can you take care of another being when you can’t even take care of yourself?” And his question still remains unanswered.
So is it a fad? Sadly, it seems that way. But things aren’t always what they seem. Let’s hope not, because we can’t just let this happen to our teens and act like it’s ok and everything’s just “fine and dandy”, because it’s not and it won’t be. Teen pregnancy affects everyone, not just those who get pregnant. All we can do is stick by our teens and day by day, try to decimate this widely popular fad. One day at a time.