Teenage Pregnancy: The Child's PerspectiveSunday, January 22, 2012 By Sandra Torres
Until you're a parent, most cannot begin to fathom the difficulties of raising a child. But add some other factors, like being a single parent, not having a job, not having support from any kind of family, and even being as young as fifteen years old, and it seems impossible. Teen pregnancy is something that isn’t a new concept, and even in our society, it is somewhat celebrated what with shows like Teen Mom , and the push for sex, just as long as it’s safe. However, what of the outcome? What about the children of these teenage couples and single mothers? The National Research Council Institute of Medicine says, in the US alone, approximately 750,000 to 850,000 teenage girls become pregnant between the ages 15 and 19. The children born to unmarried, high school drop-out teen parents are 10 times more likely to live in poverty than those born to married couples over the age of 20 . The children of teenage couples are also expected to be abused and neglected more when born to a teen mother. Despite all of these grim predictions, my mother had me at 16, and I never really faced any of those struggles. She made sure I would never have to. She tried for me. My mother, Veronica Pena, had me at 15 years old on March 4 th 1995, just three days short of her birthday. She had not known the odds against us, just that she would work her hardest to give us the life we both deserved. “ I knew that I would love my child unconditionally, no matter what happened in my life,” Pena proudly said. When people think of teenage pregnancy, they usually expect failure. It is an expected failure, not only from the mother herself, failing to stay celibate and continuing a high school and college career, but from the children of that pregnancy. Children from teen pregnancies face the trial of overcoming a stereotype that’s already set up for them in society’s eyes, academically and socially. The Guttmacher Institute states that children of teen parents are 50% more likely to repeat a grade, and are less likely to graduate from high school, compared to the children of older parents. Seventy-seven per cent of children born to teen parents will receive a high school diploma, compared to 89% of children born to older parents according to Kids Having Kids: Economic Costs and Social Consequences of Teen Pregnancy . That isn’t the case of me or my mother. I know my mother didn't get the chances or options offered to me. She didn't have much guidance; a push from a parent to succeed. Yet, she had me, and beat the circumstances of what was expected of us academically. I have never repeated a grade, and if I failed in academic subject I tried, resolved it, and try harder. I maintain a 90 average, overall, and not a day goes by that I doubt myself going to college. Thanks to my mother. Despite my mother dropping out of high school, she pursued her GED and went to Kingsborough Community College, while maintaining a job. She motivates me to excel. She is a reminder of what “difficult” really is, and how I should always apply all of myself academically. We compete with the statistics above. My mother’s push academically has made me a well-rounded person both in my academic and personal life. Although we both faced trying times, we pulled through. Children of teen mothers are more likely than those born to older mothers to experience adolescent childbearing, homelessness, juvenile delinquency, and incarceration, states Shelby Parsell in Adolescent Childbearing and Educational and Economic Attainment . Parsell goes on to state that there is a consistency in the misuse or lack of contraceptive use which is less likely among children of teen parents, who are more likely to be sexually active by age 14. As a result, these children are at higher risk of becoming teen parents themselves. I have always known there wasn't a positive outlook on what we me and my mother are. I felt like my mother had a lot to balance and weigh out. She had to be a mom, go to school, go to work, handle issues with her family, and she sacrificed her childhood. I most likely didn’t realize that when I was younger and got angry when she wasn’t around, I think that was the only disadvantage. My mother gave it her all. I never once in my life had to wonder if I was ever going to not have something I needed. I always had a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on the table, and I did well in school. Regardless of having everything I needed, I knew I had a different upbringing. I knew I grew up a little faster than everyone else because of my personal life, which was affected by my life at home. However, I know I gained the understanding of a true family, and to have a loving mom, who no matter how complicated things became, she always came around to supporting me. Teenage pregnancy isn't exactly the usual way people expect a woman to get pregnant. Most people don't want to think joyful thoughts of if it’s a boy or a girl, when it's due, what its name will be, who's going to throw the baby shower and when. It’s mostly the question is the woman, or girl, should keep it or not. If someone to ask me the "Should she keep it or not?" question, I wouldn't support either answer to yes or no. It's a big sacrifice that a girl has to accept: the responsibility of giving your all for something or someone more important. It forces a girl a to become a woman. It forces her to grow up. However, all of that shouldn't even seem like responsibility or sacrifice, but a commitment of love; a certain bond that no one could ever break. In the end, it is solely the girls' choice. My mom learned this truth before any negatives were thrown at her. She loved me without her even seeing me, then became stronger with my birth and me growing up. “ I am very proud to say that my child will alter the world today; her intellect will somehow touch and change the future,” she exclaimed. I know first and foremost, to be careful with my personal life and what I choose to do. I also know that whatever goes on in my life, these are my choices and no one can take that from me. Above all, I know my mother truly loves me and will support my decisions, and even go out of her way to help me. I hope I could do that for my children, later in life.