Friday, June 20, 2008

Teach Your Children Well

Wow. I'm still scratching my head over this one - a full 24 hours after first hearing it on the news.
I'm sure many of you now know about the infamous pregnancy pact at a Massachusetts high school. For the uninformed, here goes...after the teen pregnancy rate quadrupled at a Gloucester school, the administration investigated and found out the increase was primarily due to a pact between a bunch of girls (about 17, I believe) to get prego and raise their tykes together.
Can you believe that crap?
Look, it's hard enough raising a child when you're an actual adult - and have at least one or two salaries and perhaps a husband - to fall back on. Just ask anyone who's ever spent a sleepless night soothing a bawling baby and changing diapers at 3 a.m. It's another thing altogether when you're 16-years-old and don't know a THING about life. I can't tell you how ignorant I was at Sweet 16...but like every other teen, I completely deluded myself into believing that I knew best. I'm just lucky I got through those years with as few scrapes and bruises as I did, all things considered.
Moving on, news reports said many of the pregnant teens high-fived each other and began planning baby showers when they found out they were expecting, while others seemed disappointed when their results came back negative. Even more disturbing? At least one of the future daddies is a 24-year-old homeless man. Ooookay.
So where should we lay the blame here? Well, apparently some chalk it up to the recent "glamourization" of motherhood, with one gorgeous celebrity mother after another gracing the pages of glossy magazines with newborn in arms, as well as the boom of cutesy pregnancy-related movies like Juno, Waitress and Knocked Up.
Others say the high school has done, perhaps, too good a job embracing young mothers, since they offer a free on-site day-care center. I call shenanigans. I too went to a high school with a free on-site day care center for teen mothers and local families. And no matter how stupid we acted back in those days, we never all pinky-swore to become teen mothers together while braiding each other's hair.
You know what I think? I think there are a number of factors to blame, including the state of society in general. One solution, though, as simple as it may sound, is to keep an eagle eye on your kids. With teens now much more sexually active than ever before, don't feel bad about giving them a curfew. Monitor their Facebook and MySpace usage. Smell their breath and check their eyes (Hi, Mom. I'm talking about you!) when they walk in the door after being out with friends.
At the end of the day, the stricter you are, the less likely they'll get into trouble. At least until college...but that's a whole other story!
All I really know is, those Gloucester teens are in for a very rude awakening in six to nine months.

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