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Andrei in the office

lordandrei

Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness


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Andrei in the office
lordandrei

Maybe I'm just getting old....

I was going to put in a cut due to obscenities; but then realized that I really do want people under 18 to see this.

Caveat: This post was written by a 34 year old, unmarried male. The author has not fathered any children (that he has been made aware of)

Today's Investor's Business Daily had the following blurb:

Teen birth rate fell 5.4% in '01
The U.S. rate fell to 48.5 births per 100 women ages 15-19. It was the 10th straight drop and the lowest level recorded, the Centers for Disease Control found. Abortions also dipped in '98

Personally, I find this very disturbing. granted the numbers also seem (IMHO) obscene. Fortunately (and as inspired by fiannaharpar I opted to verify my data.

The actual HHS Report states:
The rate dropped 5% from 48.5 to 45.9
Thus number is births per 1,000 females.
(Mine: 45.9/1000 == 1 in 21.79)

The rate has dropped 26% since 1991

Well, when I read the IBD stat, I nearly tossed my cookies.

Finding the real stat has made me less outraged.

None the less... I look at the average sized class room as 35 students. This stat says that you are more than likely (translation: 35 students, assume 17.5 females, at 1 in 21.79 = 80%+) to find one student pregnancy in any classroom of that size with students between the ages of 15 and 19.

I have known so many <20 year olds who have found themselves with children and watched what has happened to them. the lost child hood; the lack of a chance to really find self identity until much later in life; if they even get that chance.

I understand fully, there was a time when an 18-19 year old was fully expected to raise a child. Granted at that time middle-age was 22. I am terrified of the percentage of these births that may be labelled 'single mothers.' Further I am terrified at the percentage of these <20 who will have more than one child by the time they are 22.

This is my dangerous part (Prepares flame retartdent clothing for onslaught):
Is there anything else we can and should be doing to educate and protect our daughters?!? The church's stance on anti-abortion and a man's right to procreate has become lost in the fact that we are losing children. Children that are unwillingly or at times willingly (though it's very hard at my age to believe a 15 year old really comprehends the ramifications of supporting a child) bringing new children into the world and are being tranformed into parents long before they can safely, sanely, or adequately care for these children.

I know that teens are sexual creatures as much as (and sometimes moreso than) their adult counterparts. We need to as a society not worry about the evils of sex and the philosophical or religious issues associated with these activities. There are wizened adults and clergy who still argue these points, are we really expecting our youth to understand these arguements?

We need to explain these issues to our children so they understand them. Make them understand the responsibilities that come out of the action of creating a life. The cost, the time, the debt, the mature understanding.

I believe children are more intelligent than we as adults give them credit. If we give them the confusing explanations that obfuscate the truth; they'll see thru it. If we lay it on the line...Maybe we can drive that number down even more.


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It comes down to respect...

Teach you children to respect themselves, their bodies, their sexuality, other people.

I do believe people should wait to have sex until they're fairly mature and understand the potential consequences. And it isn't just bearing children... sex *can* lead to death, via HIV.

Personally, I wasn't mature enough to handle the consequences until I was out of college and earning my own income...


We need to explain these issues to our children so they understand them. Make them understand the responsibilities that come out of the action of creating a life. The cost, the time, the debt, the mature understanding.

I fully plan on sitting down with my daughter and explaining to her where I have come from, how much I did not understand and how much I know now with hindsite.

I plan on making up a display with costs including diapers, wipes, and so on to show my daughter the ramifications and the costs of raising a child. I do believe strongly in the right to choose. However, I do not believe in this as a constant instant answer to the problem. I don't like the number of women who run around and use this as a birth control form rather than taking responsibility for themselves ahead of getting to that situation. Much as I know that I have two children and I'm only 22 (yes.. I know that this was mostly because you know me and my situation.. Further I am terrified at the percentage of these <20 who will have more than one child by the time they are 22. ) and have two children. There just are too many women who just don't actually take responsibility. Condoms, the pill, diaphragms, antispermal gels, all of these are very efficient preventative measures that many young people are either not introduced to or are introduced only to condoms. Why are kids NOT told about the other things.

Then there is the stance of the catholic church who refuse to admit that young people have sex and sex is only for procreation so birth control is a BAD thing.. and people shouldn't take it. How can a church teach that something that prevents ruination fo a young life is a BAD thing.

Ok.. I'm done ranting..

Re: Spreading the word...

(Anonymous)
Hi! A minor comment: the Catholic church (at least post vatican two) doesn't say that sex is only for procreation. It's more that sex & procreation are intimately related, and if you're having sex you should realize that you may become pregnant (unless you're a man-- then the woman might be pregnant :-). Sex inside a marriage with the intention of deepening a couple's relationship is very much encouraged! As for birth control, the church encourages NFP, which is very reliable, but does require a bit more effort than other things. Other forms are okay if there's a really good reason (STDs for instance). The Catholic church also teaches (and some people do a better job of this than others) that for an issue such as this (birth control) that if you've examined all sides of the issue to the best of your ability and your conscience tells you 'condoms are the best option for my relationship', then you Must Follow Your Conscience.
As far as kiddos & young (not married) people go, I suspect that the church would say:
(1) Best option- no sex yet [Most people would agree with this, at least for the high school age range]
(2) Not as good, but next best option- use some form of birth control, since we'd much rather you not get pregnant [just about everyone would agree with this too]
(3) If you do get pregnant, you can raise your child (with a supportive family's help, hopefully) or consider adoption, which is very good for many people. [I think that here's where the biggest number of people would split and also list abortion]
(4) If you do end up getting pregnant & aborting, they can refer you to counselors to talk about it. (Project Rachel)
I'm very very impressed by women who, when faced with a surprise pregnancy, go on to give birth to the child (whether they go on to raise it or put it up for adoption). It requires a lot of courage-- I don't know if I'd have had that when I was younger. So not knowing your situation (surprise or not), you have my admiration!
I hope you don't mind my butting in too much; it's just that this is important to me.
Mel

Re: Spreading the word...

It's more that sex & procreation are intimately related, and if you're having sex you should realize that you may become pregnant (unless you're a man-- then the woman might be pregnant :-)

The thing is... I oddly enough had this discussion with a man that I work with who is catholic. I can talk to my one coworker if you'd like and let you know what she has to say (she's very staunch Catholic.)

The guy that I talked to flat out told me that the Catholic church believes that birth control should not be used. You can use it but what is the sense if you only practice abstinence like the church teaches. I tried to ask him what about in a marriage situation that the couple does not want to get pregnant. He told me that it was their responsibility to use the rythm method or something like that.

My situation personally is a bit sticky. Please understand that I come from a situation where the child was definately a surprise and the father was NEVER a figure in her life. I was going to be a single mom no matter what when it came to raising her. With my son it is a bit of a different story.

I could not give my daughter up for adoption for the simple reason of the whole reason I got pregnant (which I really want to restrain from getting into right now.)

This whole situation is very important to me as well. COming from someone who has been there done that.. i don't want my daughter to go through the same situation. I've seen how I struggle and I don't want her to lose out on the things that I've already lost out on. I love my kids and I would not change the fact that I have them for the world. But there are definately lots of things that I would do differently if given the chance.

Re: Spreading the word...

Just a little nitpick...

You can also find devout Catholics who will tell you the pope is always infallible and that Catholics worship Mary.

It's very hard to find out exactly what the catechism *really* is unless you want to go look it up in the records yourself.

If you are then so am I . . .

Getting old that is. And I am 27.
This is a terrifying number. BABIES are having babies, and the ability to care for them and nurture them may just not be there. I look at what my mother, single, went through having me at twenty-nine and I know I wouldn't have had the emotional maturity to go through that at 19 as a single father, hell I might not have the necessary maturity now.
I don't know what the answer is, probably there isn't one complete answer.
I agree parents should educate their children, daughters and sons alike, about the responsibilities of bringing a child into the world. They're committing themselves to a 24/7 job for the next 18 years minimum. I know my mother didn't stop being my mother at 18, or 21 for that matter. Parenthood will change your life, and it should, but you have to be ready for your life to move to the next level.
Whew.

Probably the best book that I have ever read on teen pregnancy is "When Children Want Children" by Leon Dash. Dash was a journalist who went into a section of Maryland that has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation. What he discovered was that ignorance was not the reason for high pregnancy rates: most of the girls he interviewed *chose* to become parents. Why? Because in that area, in that culture, motherhood=adult womanhood. Going to college and having a career was not considered a meaningful option for most of the young women in this area. Adulthood was expressed and experienced by way of motherhood. My guess is that if you broke down teen pregnancy statistics, you would find that the majority of those giving birth and parenting are teens from economically disadvantaged homes/families.

But the middle-class has not escaped sick/twisted thinking on this subject either. As you know, I had a child myself at 18, though I chose to place him for adoption. For many years I worked as a volunteer educator, going to classrooms, hospitals, churches, etc, to talk about adoption. What I commonly encountered were kids who were opposed to adoption and abortion, and insisted that parenting (even as a teenager) was the best option. They argued that women who have sex out of wedlock should "pay the price" and "suffer the consiquences" of their actions. These kids saw motherhood/parenthood as a "punishment" for sexuality. For obvious reasons, I found this extremely troubling: damn the kid, we need to "punish" the parents for being sexual. Indeed, peer pressure is incredibly pro-parenting and anti-abortion/adoption in high schools. If one looks at the statistics of girls/women who place their babies for adoption, most of them are in their late teens/early twenties.

What can be done about this? Depends on your politics, I guess.

Education on reproduction is still a good idea, as well as education on birth control, STDs and the like. But until people reorient their ideas about parenting and family, education and prevention are only going to go so far. Only after people start to see parenting and childbirth as a privilege of those who are mature, responsible, self-supporting adults (ideally in a committed, permanent relationship), will teen/unplanned pregnancy go away.







Lainie said pretty much what i'm going to say. I will simply add that my experience in a homeless shelter for unwed mothers (run by Catholic Charities) was mostly populated by women who chose to become pregnant. They saw pregnancy as being an escape from teenhood, and hadn't a clue what they were actually giving up. I was shunned by the other residents when they found out that I was placing my child for adoption, and couldn't figure out why living on welfare and being a single parent wasn't an acceptable lifestyle for me and my child.

I don't think that sexual education should be limited to just our daughters, but also to our sons. I particularly like the "AYS" (About Your Sexuality) program that was developed by and is taught in the Unitarian Universalist church. As one of my RE kids said, "Dude, i'm never having sex, the consequences are too big". Pretty much you get the straight biology, the numbers on how expensive it is to rear a child, sexually transmitted diseases, self-esteem issues, and ways to say "no". It was also followed up by a lot of discussion not only with us, the RE teachers, but also with their parents.

That seems to be the key, parents talking to their children in an open and informed manner.

having grown up with the UU RE program, and learning "where babies come from" when I was 5, and more details as we grew up and could understand more complex issues surrounding it, I have to say it is a Fine and Good thing to talk to kids about it early on.

the AYS class for 9th grade students (iir when I took it) was called "Close Encounters" and pretty much covered ALL the bases.

The best that we can do, is communicate with those that we have in our lives as best we can, and as honestly. Girls and Boys.
We have to teach our kids to be responsible for their own actions. And that begins with more than just being sexually responsible. but that is a tirade for another time.

so i have a side of my family that we kind of just don't talk about. my father remarried this woman from the projects who is the epitome of trailer park trash (i am sure i have alot of issues concerning this, but i just dont care). anyways, she had a baby from some guy she barely knew when she was 18 and this daughter of hers has now grown full circle and has two children before she has turned 18. they are both horrible mothers, the tv is the babysitter and they just dont really pay that much attention to the kids. like they are more of a hassle than anything else. i feel really bad for the kids, pity them really because they wont get the life that they should have. but then who am i to judge. so i watched as the daughter grew up and screwed up her life, she became effectively the town whore, sleeping with anyone she could find, just to get back at her mother who she thought didnt love her enough. (this is my interepretation) at any rate, now it is the same. same cycle. why didnt she give them up for adoption, get an abortion. does she not know what causes this pregnancy thing? i dont know. i just know from what i have seen it usually works out to the disaster of both parties involved.

now, thinking back on my youth, i did sooo many stupid things. and it wasnt really because i didnt know. maybe i didnt have enough horrible statistics shoved in my face, maybe i had too many. whatever it was, i somehow managed to slide thru the cracks when it came to my share of bad things like STDs and such. i think that teens are very sexual, and should be free to explore this, but safely. and i think i just wasnt really sure what safely meant. i am glad to have had as much 'experience' as i did, it now makes me know more of what i really want earlier on. so i suppose i am sitting on the fence on this issue. i think that teen sexuality is not a bad thing, teen pregnancy is. so someone needs to come up with some kind of campaign that doesnt belittle the intellegence of teens, but tells them like it is and gives them all the information they need to hopefully make the decisions that they should. i recall health classes in school and the whole sex ed thing was a big fat joke. no one took it seriously. but, is that teenagers or is that the program. could be both.

There is also the more than trivial effort of educating the adults, as much as educating the children.

Ignorant parents raise ignorant children.
(in general, of course.)

Why people have kids, kids are people too.. (wackadoo)

Damn, this is is gonna be long but I couldn't resist. Sorry!! 8)

Hmmm.. I'm gonna approach this from a different perspective.

I don't think being a teen necessarily means that one would be a bad mother. I think it's important to look for what could possibly be the psychological drive inside a young girl to have a child. Well, most likely, it's what drives most people to have children, so....

What is society's 'acceptable' healthy conscious reason to have children?

Don't know. But my own personal reason would be to have someone I could love, provide for, somehow shape into being better than myself by achieving more, having more self-esteem, etc. I'd want them to be able to cope with life better and be well-adjusted and happy. I'd want them to succeed in society and be able to take care of themself... I think it can be summed up as having a "projected do-over". Give them the good things I received, and give them the good things that I didn't receive. And what would I get in return?? Why would I pay such a high price through money, time-consumed, etc.?? I'd have a sense of *purpose*.. the joy of feeling *needed* in a way that all the other things in my life can't fulfill. I would also view it as a way of stating that the man I love means that much to me.. that I trust him enough to need him.. and yet, it would also mean that I feel I could survive without him in case something happened.

Could any of this be going through a young girl's head? It's not unlikely. While birth control availability and education is a requirement to *not* have children, I doubt teens could be so ignorant that the high birth rate is directly due to being uninformed about birth control.

Neither do I think that the young girls who are having sex and having children are all that influenced by the church's ideals to not have sex before marriage although they may go to church or even be quite spiritual.

I think a problem lies more in a girl wanting to feel 'innocent' and loveable in god's eyes may lead her into consciously chosing to be naive though. But that's not necessarily the fault of the church. As a society, we do not acknowledge that those we see as children (13 on) are adults in quite a literal physical sense. We want to say "they're not fully developed yet", but that's not necessarily true. The fact that children 13-18-22 are not viewed as mature is because they're not expected to be mature. They're called 'children' and are expected to enjoy life and not take on adult responsibilities. In fact, it's so important that ALL of us remember they're not to be held responsible for their actions (not generally deemed adults capable of making mature choices) that it's a federal law that one must be 18 to vote.

Where can changes be made then? The government? The church? At home? In the education system? The media? Yes. Yes, it's the type of problem that can only be solved one person at a time.. it's not a diseased organ that can simply be removed or replaced to make everything all better. It's a disease that requires a constant shift in many places all at once.

Rather than talk or complain about it, do something about it. Make a point of encouraging teens to take responsibility by pointing out the benefits to them. Encourage parents to give responsibility to them that comes NOT out of neglect. And if you don't know anyone you can encourage, do some volunteer work and get in contact with the young teens. They're out there. They need you.. us. WE can be their role models and source of influence.

Who's fault is it? Why haven't things changed? Personal responsibility or lack of, by each of us.

Yet another perspective....

From a twice-over birthparent who is pregnant "for real" this time.
In case you're wondering, I wasn't a teenager (I was 20 and 23), I was a drug addict and alcoholic at the time.

What is society's 'acceptable' healthy conscious reason to have children?

I think that the question would be more appropriately, why is society so against women *not* having children. We live in a child-centred/baby-centred society. Businesses are chomping at the bit to cater to families with children. Group Health Care Plans are geared to make its services more affordable to families (at the expense of single people and childless couples, which is another rant alltogether). When I was in a childfree marriage, people would tell me outright that I didn't have a "family" because we didn't have children. "Society" doesn't seem to bother with "acceptable healthy conscious" reasons, having the reproductive equipment is enough to entitle you to as many children as you'd like to have.

In fact, it's so important that ALL of us remember they're not to be held responsible for their actions (not generally deemed adults capable of making mature choices) that it's a federal law that one must be 18 to vote.

I have always found this funny considering that many religions make people responsible for their own sin *much* earlier.

Children are also being held more and more responsible for their actions legally. Children are being tried as adults and are being sued as individuals. This is typically in the case of murder/assult, and not lesser crimes.

Who's fault is it? Why haven't things changed? Personal responsibility or lack of, by each of us.

The larger problems that add to the "young pregnancy" are in many ways too large to be specifically dealt with. There's this ultra-conservative quadrant of my brain that says that part of the problem is that teen pregnancy has become acceptable. High Schools have daycare centers on site for the students (which is great, they can continue their educations), but that is propagating a state of normalcy that shouldn't exist. Much like how smoking has become less and less acceptable among teenagers, mostly due to peer pressure, this can be done with teen pregnancy in a similar fashion.

The fact is that it's all about opinions and guessing. Teen pregnancy is a multi-faceted problem that isn't able to be attacked at the root and destroyed. It's one person at a time, one program at a time, one day at a time. There are even multiple solutions, which gives me hope that it can be a non-issue someday soon.

Re: Yet another perspective....

I think that the question would be more appropriately, why is society so against women *not* having children. We live in a child-centred/baby-centred society. Businesses are chomping at the bit to cater to families with children. Group Health Care Plans are geared to make its services more affordable to families (at the expense of single people and childless couples, which is another rant alltogether).

This paragraph pretty much explains itself, although off topic of teen pregnancy (I don't mind.. I love debating on everything 8) ) since talking about the workforce pretty much applies to women 18 and over. Within the US, society does make it more difficult for women with children to enter or exist in the workforce than for women without children. As for businesses catering to women with children, that's something I personally have yet to see, and may even be a bit relieved to see happen. The only catering to people with children has been towards men since it lends a feeling of dependability to them. As much as we'd like to believe our country to be 'advanced' in its methods of creating a nation of opportunity for all, we're quite behind other 1st world nations. The mentality that created this country in the first place is what spawns the problem in the US: The want of opportunity to make money as top priority, along with the willingness to sacrifice current one's life quality, family ties and stability. And while one can say that the whole purpose to making money is to improve one's life quality, etc., the truth is that whenever 'living right' is put off for such purposes. The momentum of the past and present pretty much doesn't wear off until one's body gives out (retirement or death).

When I was in a childfree marriage, people would tell me outright that I didn't have a "family" because we didn't have children. "Society" doesn't seem to bother with "acceptable healthy conscious" reasons, having the reproductive equipment is enough to entitle you to as many children as you'd like to have.

While having the equipment enables one to have children, society does have an negative opinion as far as it feels it will have to pick up responsibility where it feels the burden should rest on the parent (i.e., welfare, fostercare, healthcare, etc.)

I have always found this funny considering that many religions make people responsible for their own sin *much* earlier.

Many churches are based on lofty ideas that have no allowance for real life. And while many families are influenced by the church to such a point that they are unable to think for themselves, it is quite unfortunate that the people most prone to following such organizations so blindly are those who are impoverished.

The larger problems that add to the "young pregnancy" are in many ways too large to be specifically dealt with. There's this ultra-conservative quadrant of my brain that says that part of the problem is that teen pregnancy has become acceptable. High Schools have daycare centers on site for the students (which is great, they can continue their educations), but that is propagating a state of normalcy that shouldn't exist. Much like how smoking has become less and less acceptable among teenagers, mostly due to peer pressure, this can be done with teen pregnancy in a similar fashion.

Pregnancy must be accepted as a 'normalcy' if having sexual relations is being accepted. It's a matter of accepting the cons with the pros. We're in a society that has been fighting for freedom of sexual expression, particularly before marriage. There are consequences for every action and this is one of them.

Overall, each generation responds to the 'problems' created by the generations prior to it. The long fight for freedom of sexual expression from the 1950's to present, has been out of response the sexual repression of prior generations. And the coming generations will respond to the problems that we end up creating.

One other, and IMHO more sinister, aspect to all this is the viritual glorification of women who choose not to abort by the anti-choice movement.

Don't get me wrong: if a woman/girl does not want an abortion, this should be respected. But anti-choice rhetoric has gotten to be such that women/girls who chose not to have abortions are regarded as "saints" and "martyrs" (at least until they give birth), who have made the "brave & responsible" choice to give birth rather than taking the "easy way out" and aborting.

One could, of course, observe that a truly responsible person would have avoided pregnancy to begin with, but such are often accused of being mean-spirited.

So now you have young women for whom college/career is not an option, for whom motherhood is equated with parenthood, and who now know that they will be praised for not having an abortion. And they may come from families and communities where they don't get praised very much. What reason is there for them to delay childbearing?

The trouble is that people who give birth because they need to boost their own self-esteem are likely to be lousy mothers. Now I should note that plenty of married, middle-class women do the same thing, but they have social and economic supports that offset their shortcomings. Poor teenagers who make a bad choice about parenting have no such safeguards or supports.




You expressed that much better than I would have. Thank you for your post. :)

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