Monday, November 29, 2010

Supporting Pregnant Teens/ Teen Moms

Pregnant teens or teen moms need support.

And no, I am not encouraging teens to have babies.

I am always surprised when I come across people who think that supporting pregnant teens/teen moms means encouraging teens to get pregnant. Why is it so difficult for us to understand this difference?

Of course, the first issue here is that Teen Pregnancy Is Bad (tm). Therefore, whenever a person talks about teens being pregnant or having kids, they always feel the need to put that young woman into a negative position or say negative things about her. Because in their eyes, she's done something wrong by becoming pregnant.

Maybe being pregnant as a teen is wrong. It's certainly not healthy on a massive population scale. But neither of these facts are going to help young women who are already on a path towards teen motherhood.

Because Teen Pregnancy Is Bad (tm), people will turn any discussion about pregnant teens towards preventing teen pregnancy. Which is a good thing, in theory. In practice, it means that young women who are already pregnant are getting no support.

For instance, if someone says that we should support teen moms, or have a group for teen moms to get together to support each other, someone is bound to bring up condoms.

Poloyatonki - 10 hours ago

Tracy….Are you encouraging teen pregnancy? Lets just educate them to use a condom….

This above quote is from the article Supporting Teen Moms, in which the author wants to start up a support group for teen moms to get together and chat.

I hate that I have to ask this, but does a condom help a young woman who is already pregnant avoid pregnancy? No. This tactic reminds me of the antichoicers suggesting that pregnant women looking for abortions should just keep their legs closed (and not have sex). Great advice, but unless you've got a time machine to go with it, you're not helping anyone.

In business, companies can separate their customer base into different target markets. When dealing with teenagers, we should be able to do the same. Teens who are already pregnant and planning to parent or teen moms are one target market. This market is where the support needs to be sent to. Teens that are not pregnant and not parents are a second target market where the focus of contraceptive education should be pushed. Why is this such a hard idea for people to understand?

Of course, people may response that non-pregnant teens might see the support teen moms have, and decide that teen pregnancy isn't all that bad. While this may sound dangerous, I doubt an overwhelming number of teens are going to see teen parenting as "cool" or "fun" just because teen moms get some support. Besides that, teen parents should not be treated harshly or punished just to send a message to teens who aren't parents.

Pregnant women and mothers need to have a supportive environment whether they are teenagers or forty years old. And that support needs to be a lot more helpful than "use a condom..."