Okay, time out: why are so many people my age having kids?
You read about the increase of teen moms in the newspaper, you see these wide-eyed pregnant girls on talk shows, you witness the phenomenon across the Internet. My friend asked this same question on his Facebook status, to which one girl replied "because it's fun" and two girls 'Like'd this. According to their profiles, they were all 18-20 and pregnant.
This epidemic is apparent at Lane Community College, where I've noticed a hefty handful of young mothers and fathers in my classes. By young, I mean 23 and under, and some with children three to five years old. These are struggling parents who barely have the funds to get themselves through community college, let alone afford the necessities for their child or children.
Take the young mother who brought her two-year-old to my anthropology class because, I suppose, she couldn't get a babysitter that day or afford daycare. She arrived late, disrupting the lecture, and allowed her screaming kid to intermittently run around the classroom for the remaining hour. The teacher, perhaps more of a ring-around-the-rosy person than a blunt bitch like me, simply shot the mom a terse smile and did her best to teach over the child's wails.
Yes, let's all suffer for her mistake.
I know that sounds harsh but let's face it: if you make the decision to give birth, you are not a victim. You and only you should be held accountable for this decision; not the state and taxpayers, not your peers, and not the child who suffers a subpar life if you cannot provide better. According to a 2006 report by Saul Hoffman, P.D. and published by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, "teenage childbearing in the U.S. costs taxpayers (federal, state, and local) at least $9.1 billion, and are associated with negative consequences for the children of teen mothers, including increased costs of health care, foster care, and incarceration."
I can't make generalizations about all teenagers and young adults (those in their early 20's), but I can speak for many of my peers and myself when I say that we are young and still finding our way in the world, struggling for money, hunting for time just to catch our breaths between work, school, extracurriculars and those lame responsibilities that come with living on our own. (Has anyone else noticed how much basic household expenses add up? And that laundry no longer does itself?) Not to mention free time for luxuries like rendezvousing with friends—party time excellent—and basically for just doing what you want, when you want.
Please explain to me, with all of that on your agenda, how bearing and raising a child right now is even remotely sane. I suppose it makes sense in the rare case that you're incredibly mature and have already finished that part of your life; you have the funds for your little bundle of joy, have completed your education or have the tools and ambition that allow you to successfully do so without negatively impacting your child, and are ready to settle down and dedicate the next 18 years of your life—and then some—to this valuable, vulnerable little human being. You are done partying; you're not dumping your kid with your parents so you can hit the bar and have a wild night out. You are not exposing your baby to screaming, swearing, and out-of-control fights with your significant other, and you are definitely not screaming at your crying baby (what's up, Amber from Teen Mom?). You are not sacrificing mother-child bonding time to appear on The Flavor of Love in hopes of scoring your "soulmate", who just so happens to be a gold-toothed dude sporting a broken watch and Viking hat.
You are done being a child and you are ready to be a mother.
I understand that shit happens, but when it hits the fan you must make a plan and then proceed accordingly. I'm not going to advocate abortion because it's one of many decisions a pregnant woman can make, but I will say that I think it's better for a child to never experience life than for it to suffer a miserable one; feeling unwanted, knowing what hunger feels like, not receiving the proper care and attention because of its unprepared, overwhelmed young parents. Activists cheer "pro-life!" but really, what kind of life is that? (Yet they protest "murder!" as they chomp nearly developed chicken fetuses for breakfast, horrified at the idea of early egg termination) Adoption is another decision that acts with the best interest of both the child and the mother; giving the child life, but with someone else, with adults more experienced and ready to act as parents. Finally, as previously addressed, there are those who decide to keep the child and essentially sacrifice their own life, giving their all to provide the best for another.
Or you could just avoid this whole quagmire (giggidy). Take your birth control pill on time every damn day, use protection, or just don't schwang.
Potential problem prevented.
I fear for the future, for the victims that grow up without a childhood and suffer for their parents' mistake, for those doomed to follow in their footsteps. Is this the next generation? Does anyone else need a paper bag for their dropped jaw every time they watch Teen Mom?
Just a thought….you know, it's only another human life.