Growing Up Together - Teen Parenting
This article is not about making judgments. Nor is it a compilation of solutions. Rather it is about taking an honest look at a growing cultural phenomenon in Western life – teen pregnancy and teen parenting.
It used to be kids grew up, left home, got married and had kids. But I suspect that was never really the way it happened. A hundred and fifty years ago two young kids might be married at the dock at sunrise, climb into a wagon and press off completely unknowing, up against a western land waiting to be tamed. It sounds romantic but the harsh cruelties of the time tell a different story. Life spans of 30 years were common and teen pregnancies were more common – teen parenting was a matter of survival.
In these more modern days kids leave home one way or another - often without a mate, wagon or destination. Fortunately for them, theirs is a round-trip ticket and many young people find themselves returning to live at home once or twice before making the successful leap into an independent life. Heck, as parents we sometimes wish we had that option.
These kids are the lucky ones.
Living With Two Babies
To write about teen parenting is to look at the makeup of the family. For many young people, reproductive biology or anatomy is real-time discovery and the family consequences are almost always dramatic – probably, when put in perspective, as dramatic as the nineteenth century wagon train bride mentioned above.
Let’s look at teen parenting and the impact on the teenage girl’s family. If there is a mom and dad, are they around? It’s great if they are and supportive enough to embrace the situation. Not always the case however due to divorce, drugs, alcohol abuse, etc. and there’s no need to expand the list to see how grandparents might get drawn into the picture.
Now, the question of a quiet retirement quietly dissolves with the daunting thought of another 20 years of child-rearing. Hopes for school, career and dreams of travel are all still there, but now with baby in tow.
Brave Young World
If the teen is actually to do the parenting, then some struggle is definitely in store. How do you teach growing up? When do you start teaching teens about parenting? Experience is often painful but arguably the best teacher. Teenagers are inquisitive and tend to explore, so we better make sure that along with reproductive biology and anatomy, our teens are also getting parenting training.
This epidemic of teenagers becoming parents should have been predictable all along. Seems we need parenting for the teens before the teens need parenting training!