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Teen Preggers

Teen Preggers

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

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Teen pregnancy is on the rise again, for the first time in 14 years. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the birth rate for girls ages 15-19 rose 3% between 2005 and 2006. Why have the numbers risen? Some blame abstinence-only programs, calling them futile, while others attribute it to a withering sense of shame about being young and pregnant. Or maybe it's just that teens today aren't as fastidious about using contraception. Today we'll talk to one girl about her pregnancy at age 17. If you got pregnant as a teen, or know someone who did, tell us, how did you handle it?



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If your life's goal is to be a mother, why wait? It works for my sister-in-law (wife's family)! But what do you do when the kids are grown? Or worse, when YOUR pregnant teen daughter comes home?

On the other hand, being a teen mother didn't work out to well for my brother's (1st) ex-wife. She "grew up" and realized there was more to life than dirty daipers and housecleaning.
AND GOOD FOR HER! Better late than never!

As for the recent rise in teen births, does "a comfortable living" come into discussion? Women get pregnant easier when their NOT stressed (taking tests, working, raising someone elses brats(babysitting).

Sent by Harold | 2:55 PM | 12-18-2007

My sister got pregnant as a teen and everyone should know that it can be a disaster for the family. The biggest loser is the child with a teen for a parent. There is no emotional maturity even with all the love they have. She got pregnant again and that child was adopted, she got a college education and now is a daughter to my sister but the other child is a addict. A very loved person but an addict.

Sent by mary Williams | 3:26 PM | 12-18-2007

Twelve years ago I got pregnant as a junior in high school. I knew I would not have a relationship with the father and I had plans to travel and study abroad. I had an abortion.

In comparison, my best friend got pregnant in our senior year of HS. She chose to have the baby. She later married the father and now has a wonderful 11 year old daughter.

My friend is now a MD, as is her husband. I have a PhD and am a successful scholar. We both achieved great lives and happiness, despite (or because of) our respective decisions.

I love my friend's daughter and am happy to have her in my life, but in no way regret my decision not to have a child.

I think this shows (1) how important CHOICE and SUPPORT are for helping young women make the best choices for themselves and (2) the results of a lack of sex education and birth control in the high school we attended in 1993-6.

Sent by mary | 3:31 PM | 12-18-2007

When I was a teen the only thing keeping a lot of us from becoming pregnant was a program called The Door about eight blocks from my high school. Today with defunding of programs on birth control, it's actually surprising that the teen pregnancy rate isn't worse. Your apologist for the abstinence-only crowd is full of "perhaps." But perhaps he should consider that the rate of pregnancy lags the dissolution of sex ed, because older teens talk to younger teens. It takes a few years to disrupt the knowledge-communication from the older ones to the younger ones.

Sent by Felicia | 3:33 PM | 12-18-2007

Why do we have to blame any one program. Why can't we use them all? Why can't we tell our children that they should wait, but also realize that not all of them (just like when we were kids...not all of us waited till we were married) and tell them about protection as well. But give them ALL the information and have PARENTS educate them.

Sent by Tiffany Miner | 3:37 PM | 12-18-2007

Teen pregnancy impacts the entire family, especially if the teen decides to keep the baby. I have seen many families who have to totally reorganize theirs lives to help support and care for their teens baby, after they have already raised their own families. Too many grandparents are raising their grandchildren.
I wonder if teens are truly considering what they are doing to the entire family when they say it id their decision and no one else's?

Sent by Lori Therrien | 3:44 PM | 12-18-2007

Thanks to Chris that just spoke. I applaud her for saying that she is pro-life, but will not cram her opinion down other people's throats. Which actually makes her pro-choice, she just wouldn't choose abortion for herself.

Sent by Symone | 3:45 PM | 12-18-2007

It starts with education. The more educated you are, the less likely you will be to have children at a young age.

Sent by Kristine | 4:00 PM | 12-18-2007

One caller said that your decision, whether to have the baby or the abortion, will affect your life forever. I'd like to say with the voice of experience that a baby changes your life forever. An abortion most certainly does not. An abortion sets everything back to how it was, more or less. Or at least it did for me. I got pregnant in college and had an abortion. It was absolutely the right decision for me. I regret the pregnancy, not the abortion. In fact, it's almost as if it never happened. A decade later I rarely think about it and I've never once regretted my decision.

Sent by Beth | 4:05 PM | 12-18-2007

To Emily, the young women who called in to describe her open adoption, thank you very much. My wife and I adopted our son almost 16 years ago through an open adoption process. We were able to get to know our son's birth mother and birth father as well as his two brothers and were with them at the hospital the day our son was born. I completely support a woman's reproductive rights and I believe that adoption is not for every woman that decides she cannot raise a child. For women of strength and courage such as yourself open adoption may be the best option. I wish you a healthy and happy future. Thank you. Mike.

Sent by Mike | 4:18 PM | 12-18-2007

I can somewhat agree with everyone here, but the stem of the problem comes from home, Parenting is the key to letting a child grow up with all possibilities, and having children before you have had a chance to live, means your keeping some valuable lessons that you could use later in life. When the parent comes to you with the "walked up hill, both ways in a snow storm" - think that maybe part of it is true and take what you can from it. Not everything is written in stone, but some of the pebbles that are around the tablets may contain some good advice. Childhood and Adulthood are basically the same only one holds more experiences, learn from it.

Sent by Anthony Sr. | 6:13 PM | 12-18-2007

I am always greatly saddened by women who choose to keep an illegitamate child; perhaps it is the glorification by the media when the Hollywood types do the same. They have the money and means while the pictures tout this so-called "accomplishment" worldwide.

Cats and dogs reproduce after the "act" just like we humans. It is not a feat that deserves any "congratulations"; getting an education and a decent job is a far better accomplishment than having a baby when you are a shiftless teen.

Our society needs more sex education, but more importantly, we need to bring back the shame of having a bastard. America is going down the sewer.

Too bad we can't get birth control and abortion publicly funded.

Sent by Gracie | 9:27 PM | 12-18-2007

Sent by Tiffany Miner:
"Why do we have to blame any one program. Why can't we use them all? ......... and tell them about protection as well. But give them ALL the information and have PARENTS educate them." Because parents DON'T or WON'T educate there children about sex! (Their too uptight, or too unsure of their own sexuality). I tried (still try) that, and (my teen daughter) thinks it's "weird" to talk about it with me, her Dad. (Mom likes the "head in the sand, pray to God" method.

Sent by Kristine:
"The more educated you are, the less likely you will be to have children at a young age." But you assume that humans are REASONING, THINKING creatures. In control of their emotions, bodily urges, ...ect.

I actually agree with both your views, yet reality rears it's ugly, persistant, self-doubting head.

In a perfect (reasoning) world: Sex Education would start as soon as children realize they have gender. But, we don't live in a perfect world, sorry.

And then there is Jamie Lynn Spears. Oops, lil' sis did it too!

Sent by Harold | 12:13 PM | 12-19-2007

20 years ago I was a pregnant teen. The only thing that frightened me more than being pregnant was telling my mother! Thank God she was supportive, as was the rest of my family. She loved me and she loved my daughter. Yes, she helped raise her until I was equipped to take parenting on alone, when my daughter was 5. I was able to go to college because of that.

In fact, the only ones who refused to support me (and I mean emotionally, not monetarily) was Stephanie's father and grandfather. My former boyfriend just wasn't equipped. He doesn't really understand what he missed.

Stephanie is now a senior in college with plans to go to graduate school. She is a wonderful person! I think what people need to understand is that there are women and men who are young parents that do their best and have loving (not grudging) support from their families. That is what makes the difference. We don't excuse ourselves from our responsibilities because we are young. We live up to them. There are many children of teen moms and dads that thrive and grow up to be loving, responsible adults.

Sent by Anen | 12:43 PM | 12-19-2007

I was appalled to hear nothing but pro-life callers on yesterday's show. With recent movies like "knocked up" and "juno", npr is only helping to push the idea of "have the baby no matter what". I have to say bravo to my parents, because despite my mother's "faith", I was not indoctrinated into religion as a child. So when I got pregnant at 19, my mind was not clouded with the hierarchy of life that religion teaches. I knew that that EMBRYO had no more right to live than the cows we eat or bugs we smash driving to work. I have now happily been married to the man that got me pregnant then, and not once have we ever regretted our decision. Unlike most people in this country who believe they are entitled to a white picket fence and as many children as they want, we can equate the number of people with the quality of living in a population. If I got pregnant again now, at 24, we still wouldn't have it. Because we know how many children are in foster homes, how many girls who are forced by family or a proof-less religion to give a child a meaningless and difficult existence. At 19, I could've taken care of that baby, I could've made changes in my life, but the life that I would've given to that child would've been sub-par. I believe in the future that I must live in, too. I'm not going to fill it full of more disadvantaged people. As for an earlier comment, "If your life's goal is to be a mother, why wait?" A. how do you know as a teen that your life's goal really is to be a mother? B. if you don't have a partner, same sex or not, to help raise the baby, you're giving yourself and the baby a disadvantaged approach to life. And finally, C. ADOPT! Quit making more people!!!

Sent by Mary Tippery, Gainesville, FL. | 1:03 PM | 12-19-2007

Although less access to good information about sex and lack of access to birth control may be part of the cause of teen pregnancy, let's think about this from a different angle --

What if every time a baby was born, regardless of to whom the baby is born, our society were to work together to provide the best possible life for that child? Would teen pregnancy be a problem if we had high-quality universal health care for mothers and children? How about treating the new child as a precious gift, instead of a sign of shame (uncontrollable urges), stupidity (how could you ruin your life like that!), or inconvenience (how could you do this to your family!)? If we all worked together to care for children, then children born to teens would not be burdens to their grandparents, barriers to the teens' future success, or in danger of becoming a low-income statistic. Teen parenting is not the root cause of a child's difficulty in succeeding -- it is our reactions to teen parenting that place those children at a disadvantage.

Every child needs more people than two partners to succeed -- every child needs a whole caring network. Placing the responsibility for rearing children so heavily on two biological parents is unrealistic. That is one reason teens have such a hard time living up to our expectations of parents.

Every woman should have absolute control over her reproductive choices -- but we can make those choices easier by supporting mothers and children unconditionally. Let's start thinking about treating children as the unique, precious, full-of-potential humans that they are, instead of punishing women for having sex.

Sent by Rachel N H | 3:49 PM | 12-19-2007

When I became pregnant at age 17 in 1967, there weren't too many options. Abortion was illegal, and birth control unavailable. I married - thats almost always what happened then, and stayed married for 13 years. My son is 39 and successful, I had another child, a daughter, who is also successful, happy and had a baby herself recently. At age 32, with her education and career and marriage accomplished. When my children were teenagers I became involved in Planned Parenthood. I felt it very important that teens knew about and had access to birth control. At age 17, having sex, and being overwhelmed and "in love", I knew I was playing Russian roulette. I was, however, naive, and thought it would not happen to me. I was a good girl, good student, and not one of the usual types to get pregnant. HA. Well, I did not go to my prom, I did graduate from high school, but did not attend college. My parents, who were not happy, were supportive in their own way and did help me a lot. I also was fortunate to be involved in a family business. I did get a divorce after 13 years, it was messy, an ugly custody case and hard on the children. Would I change anything? I don't really know, I'm glad I had my family, but I really do feel I missed a lot of my life and my education, and spent 13 years in an unhappy marriage. We should have informed choices, and make sure our daughters are educated as well as our sons, who should learn the responsibilities that go to sex. Abstinance never trumps hormones.

Sent by Sara Gregory | 2:13 PM | 12-21-2007

What about teen FATHERS?

I did not get to listen at work yesterday, but read some highlights today. I am disappointed to see the headline that focuses on discussion with teenage MOTHERS.

My husband was a teen FATHER. It was HIS family who decided to support the decision to keep the baby. My husband, his baby, and the baby's mother moved in with my husband's family. And when the young couple (inevitably) broke up, my husband gained sole custody his son and has raised him since.

My husband went through college as a working parent. My (step)son does not remember life without me and is an amazing young person who has wonderful things to offer this world.

This experience has really informed my parenting. We now have a daughter and a son. While I want my kids to have all the options that teen parenthood would limit or deny them, I also cannot imagine the world without my son in it. I hope this will help me to be compassionate and open-minded if either of my children ever end up n the same situation.

Sent by tina | 2:21 PM | 9-18-2008