Sunday, April 30, 2006

Time out for Teen Pregnancy

A couple weeks ago, a mother in our homeschool co-op sent an email to the one hundred families who attend, sharing that her 16-year-old daughter is pregnant and (obviously) not married. The letter was heartbreaking not just in content (that the daughter was pregnant), but in its tone. This mother was clearly very nervous about the reaction to her news that we all would have. She went so far as to say that she knew some families would withdraw their friendship and would consider her daughter a danger, etc.

I sent a reply right away saying how much I loved their family and that I admired how the mother had offered support to her daughter during this crisis. I even said I'd attend a baby shower, if they have one. I worried that the reception she'd get would be much less generous.

I was wrong. Apparently this group of families rallied to stand with this mom and family. Some of the mothers in the co-op shared similar stories (their own or how they coped with children who became teen parents) and almost everyone offered love and empathy, not criticism and judgment. The next Monday at co-op, all day I saw moms and teens hugging this daughter and one table seemed devoted to giving kind advice and support. Made me so happy.

Today, I was reading at Shimmer Glimpse (one of my blogroll blogs) and Kimmy posted a very different experience with a pregnant teen who went to a Pregnancy Crisis Center. I'm ashamed. I worked in Operation Rescue (yes, I'm sure those who know me can easily believe it) for years and we supported the local PCC in our city when we lived in Pasadena. To hear this report from someone who is not a Christian and yet was seeking support for a teen who had decided not to have an abortion outrages me. Since I have so many Christian readers here, I thought it worthwhile to send you to her blog to read this tale of woe - Woe to us! (Kimmy is one of my very favorite bloggers, btw. I love her thoughtful entries.)

Thinking about Motherhood and Teen Mamas


Dave said...

I've had the experience in both church and professional circles of seeing unmarried Christian women get a lot of support and empathy when they had unplanned pregnancies and births over the past few years. In a way, I've been pleasantly surprised by the maturity and realistic attitudes reflected by my Christian colleagues who for the most part have little difficulty refraining from a lot of the gossip and shaming that one might have expected. It does seem to me that this is another area where "vocalized values" are not exactly congruent with the practical day-to-day behaviors and attitudes that we observe, and I guess overall it's a good thing in that people haven't been as venal and small-minded as stereotypes would have led us to believe.

The fact is, there's so much childbirth out of wedlock happening at all levels of society these days that people simply have a hard time maintaining the scolding, reprimanding approach. And I think there is that genuine aspect of loving and caring about people that a lot of Christians really do have at the bottom of it all, underneath their individual theological peculiarities. I'm glad that your experience in community was better than what some continue to experience in more regimented, institutional settings such as the PCC mentioned in Shimmer Glimpse. I hope this post draws some more comments - I am curious!

Just to let people know about me - I'm a 44 year old guy who's worked with abused and neglected teenage girls in a residential treatment setting since 1992. Just to put my observations in context...

kimmy said...

It is good to know that there are folks out there (Christian or not) who are supporting young mothers and mothers to be.

I think the treatment of young mothers will improve when motherhood, the family and parenting as a whole is embraced as a valuable and cherished part of a whole, happy and successful society.

Thanks for the kind words Julie :)