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Pregnancy Pact

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There’s been a bit of a stir about the pregnant teens in Gloucester, Massachusetts.  The story is all over the internet, starting with Time, the AP, and Feministing.  I’ve got some issues with the stories.  

Firstly, time is saying that the following:

The high school has done perhaps too good a job of embracing young mothers. Sex-ed classes end freshman year at Gloucester, where teen parents are encouraged to take their children to a free on-site day-care center. Strollers mingle seamlessly in school hallways among cheerleaders and junior ROTC. “We’re proud to help the mothers stay in school,” says Sue Todd, CEO of Pathways for Children, which runs the day-care center.

The problem that I see is that they’re pointing out that maybe the reasons the kids are deciding to get pregnant is because they don’t have to struggle in order to find proper care takers when they’re at school.  Maybe they should stay home and take care of the babies instead, making up part of the population who drop out of school instead.  This way we could make them welfare mothers instead of educated women.

What these people should be looking at is what is going on with them in the community, in their schools, with their friends, and even in their homes.

From AP:

Superintendent Christopher Farmer confirmed the deal to WBZ-TV, saying the girls had “an agreement to get pregnant.”

He said the girls are generally “girls who lack self-esteem and have a lack of love in their life.”

From Time:

But Amanda Ireland, who graduated from Gloucester High on June 8, thinks she knows why these girls wanted to get pregnant. Ireland, 18, gave birth her freshman year and says some of her now pregnant schoolmates regularly approached her in the hall, remarking how lucky she was to have a baby. “They’re so excited to finally have someone to love them unconditionally,” Ireland says. “I try to explain it’s hard to feel loved when an infant is screaming to be fed at 3 a.m.” [emphasis mine]

What’s going on over there???  Why do they feel that the only way for them to have unconditional love is to become mothers??  That’s what we should really be looking at, not whether or not access to child care is too easily available for them.  

There is some talk as well about how maybe birth control isn’t available to these girls, but I think in this case, easy access to birth control wouldn’t have made a difference because they consciously decided they wanted to get pregnant together.  Why in the world they would want to change their lives in such a drastic way is beyond me, but I think the root of the problem lies in their issues with their self esteem and the fact that they’re seeking attention and affection that for some unknown reason they feel is lacking in their lives.

 

But by May, after nurse practitioner Kim Daly had administered some 150 pregnancy tests at Gloucester High’s student clinic, she and the clinic’s medical director, Dr. Brian Orr, a local pediatrician, began to advocate prescribing contraceptives regardless of parental consent, a practice at about 15 public high schools in Massachusetts. Currently Gloucester teens must travel about 20 miles (30 km) to reach the nearest women’s health clinic; younger girls have to get a ride or take the train and walk. But the notion of a school handing out birth control pills has met with hostility. Says Mayor Carolyn Kirk: “Dr. Orr and Ms. Daly have no right to decide this for our children.” The pair resigned in protest on May 30.

Gloucester’s elected school committee plans to vote later this summer on whether to provide contraceptives. But that won’t do much to solve the issue of teens wanting to get pregnant. Says rising junior Kacia Lowe, who is a classmate of the pactmakers’: “No one’s offered them a better option.” And better options may be a tall order in a city so uncertain of its future.

I agree with the above sentence, but I also agree that birth control should be made readily available at EVERY school for the kids who wish to use them.  I think these teens rights to birth control in this town where they state that they “must travel about 20 miles (30 km) to reach the nearest women’s health clinic” is definitely an issue.  I don’t know how their parents feel about them being on birth control, but I think any parent should agree that the teens would be better of on birth control than having the responsibility of raising a child before they’re ready or going through the choice of having an abortion if they so wish.  I’m sure they would want their kids to practice abstinence, but it would be ignorant to expect them to because they’re going to do what they want regardless of what they’re taught.  

Teaching them about birth control and having it readily available for them would be the most logical and responsible thing we could do for our kids and I think Dr. Orr is headed in the right direction by advocating prescription birth control at the schools.

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Written by Lissette

June 20, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Parent/Child Relationships

with one comment

Father’s day is always an interesting day for me because it’s  full of a lot of emotions.  The father who raised me is not my biological father, and although I feel as if he tried his best with me, I think there was a lot of room for improvement in how our relationship evolved.  I found out about my biological father when I was 16 years old and that threw me for a loop.  I had always sensed that something wasn’t as normal as I was made to believe it was, but having this confirmed shook me off my foundations and made me search for who I really was.  Should this have made a difference?  No, I don’t think it should and I think in a lot of ways finding out the truth made me search deeper for the true meaning of what marriage and parenting was really supposed to be like.

I know my mom tried her best with me.  I know that she kept the truth from me out of love for me and out of wanting me to have a normal family life, but I think that this information should not have been kept from me.  I think that finding out the truth was more hurtful to my self-esteem then had I just been told this from the very beginning.  I idolized the man who was my biological father, even though I had been told that he had, for all intents and purposes, abandoned me and my mother.  

The issue of parenting is a very complex thing because as I am currently a custodial stepmother, I understand that there are many different circumstances that lead to one of the parents not being a part of their child’s life, whether it’s because of choice, out of infidelity and loyalty to another, out of extreme circumstances where the state takes your children away for one reason or another, whatever the case may be.  I have witnessed first hand the struggles that a woman faces when raising children on her own as my mother and adoptive father divorced when I was 15, to watching my boyfriend raise his son on his own before we all moved in together and became a family, and I have to say that women have it so much harder.  It’s harder for a woman to find a descent job to support her family than it is for a man.  It’s hard to find that balance of work/family life when you’re a single parent, and it’s no wonder that single parents, women in particular, are usually part of the lower classes or lower middle classes.  

My mother put on a good front.  She raised us as a middle class family with low class funds.  Somehow my mother found a way to always make ends meet, probably with the help of my grandfather who always has been a big part of my life until his death close to 3 years ago.  I never went without but I did learn early on the value of a dollar and started working the moment I was old enough to work.  This was her struggle throughout my entire childhood.

Why do I make this sound as if my mother had always been a single parent?  My father worked hard all the time.  When he first married my mother he was still in college and worked full-time as well, so we hardly saw him.  Then after he graduated, he helped his father with the family business and that drained him of all the time he had as well.  The weekends were his time to relax and rightfully so, but we spent most of our days with my mother.  She’s the one who drove us to school, drove us to ballet,  Boy Scout meetings, softball/baseball practices, cheerleading practices, birthday parties, and every other activity that me and my brothers were a part of.  My dad participated when he could but he normally couldn’t.

This is another problem that I feel is plaguing our society.  I would call him an absentee father, but not completely as he was there some of the time but not most of the time like I would have liked him to be.  This seems to be a problem with some of the lower classes where both parents are together, especially during a recession like the one this country is going through now because the fathers seem to be working harder to make ends meet, as are the mothers, but the mothers always seem to make time for their children.  Is this because of the gender stereotypes plaguing our societies?  Is this what “the other side” claims as being the reason why women don’t make more money in the workforce than they should and is this their justification for things being the way they are?  These are all random questions that pop in my head from time to time when I consider my history and the current state of our societies and women.

I believe in equality.  I believe that a man and a woman should be equal participants in their child’s life.  I’m not saying that this is the only way it should be because this would be an ignorant statement as there are many other factors to take into consideration.  What I am saying is that if a couple is together and they have a great relationship, and both parties work, then they should both find a way to equally be a part of their child’s life.

In a separate but equal issue, I was reading CNN’s latest on Obama’s speech at the Apostolic Church of God where he addresses the black fathers who have not been a part of their child’s life and tells them basically that they need to take responsibility for their children.  His father apparently left when he was 2 years old, and I know at that age it has to be incredibly rough to know your father, idolize your father, and then have him leave your life, so I’m sure he’s speaking from the heart when he makes these statements.  I know from experience that not having a father be a big part of your life can lead to a lot of emotional problems, especially when it comes to your self-esteem and self worth, and I don’t mean this in the sense of say like to lesbian couples raising a child.  I mean this in the sense of having a father in your life and he’s either an absentee like my father was or just flat out abandons you.  This can go either way though because I see the same issues I had in my stepson because of how little his mother is in his life.  If there is a child/parent relationship that has already been established, having that changed or allowing other problems to interfere so the relationship can not evolve into a truly substantive relationship can cause a lot of psychological damage to the child.  Even a divorce is a hard thing for a child to cope with, but if you still take an active role in the life of your child, that trauma can be lessened and the relationship can still evolve.

I’m sure there are many different situations that I’m leaving out but I’m hoping that by this little article that I’m writing, I would hope that it has made some people at least consider the relationship they have with their child and if they can, make a little extra effort to nourish their relationship with their child to ensure themselves that their child will be healthy, happy, and sane.

Written by Lissette

June 16, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Parenting

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