Recently, my 18 year-old daughter came rushing downstairs to tell me that a guy with whom she once shared a paddling pool session with at the local Mums & Toddlers group had announced on facebook that he was going to be a father. A comment added by his own father said that he might have told his parents first. Either this is a rather bad-taste joke about a rather disgusting situation, or it really was the truth and this kiddie had proudly announced his impending fatherhood on facebook before he done his family the courtesy of telling them. Whichever way, this kid is 18 years old, and clearly he's knocked up some girl and apparently this is something to boast about on facebook. My daughter was a bit shocked - largely because she'd heard me talk about the family from years back and clearly the son is now an acquaintance of an acquaintance - hence she saw the facebook entry.
However, I don't think she expected my response: that it was disgusting, that clearly his parents had left lessons about effective contraception to the school (knowing the prudish mother I think this likely), and actually, it was yet another instance of children having children. My daughter said that she had only told me because I used to know him and she hadn't expected such a judgement, to which I replied that, actually, this careless procreation jolly ought to be judged a bit more harshly because never before in human history has it been more possible to avoid unwise and unlooked-for pregnancies, and frankly, this smacked of irresponsible behaviour on the part of the boy and the girl he's made pregnant.
What will happen of course, is that the baby will be welcomed into the bosom of the family and one of the mum's will shoulder the lion's share of raising it and subsidising the teen parents finncially and emotionally, or else the tax payer will be footing the bill - probably both, but in all probability neither teen parent will have to face reproach for their actions - possibly not even have it pointed out to them how hard it is to bring a child into the world and raise it, and as teens who have barely left school, they are not exactly well-equipped to be parents.
I'm not for one moment suggesting a return to the kind of draconian policing of social and sexual behaviour that used to be carried out by religious teaching (as it still is in some areas), nor that unwed mothers and illegitimate children should be treated as social outcasts, but I wonder if as a society we haven't become a little too tolerent of people who seem to take having children so casually, especially when the outcomes for those children might not be so certain. Let me say that I have no religious or moral objection to sex outside marriage, but I have a real objection to people who will not behave responsibly and take precautions against STIs and pregnancy. I am usually pro-choice, but I really, really object to irresponsible people who use abortion as a fail-safe contraception method.
I was married five years, financially secure, and recently moved into a new house that was large enough before I allowed myself to become pregnant with our daughter, and even then, at just past 29, I didn't feel ready or equal to the challenge of parenthood. IT never even occurred to me that it would be acceptable to become pregnant while still living in a one bed flat - even if it was out own and we were both working. Of course, whn I did become pregnant I was perfectly well supported and educated enough to know where to ask for help and look for moral and practical support, and as it is, I pride myself in thinking that I did a reasonable job at raising my daughter, but the point is that I would never have considered playing Russian Roulette with contraception before the point at which I knew I was in the right place for my husband and I to be parents. Even then, I decided to stick at the one child and not just go on dropping sprogs to the point where I found my resources stretched and turned into one of those whinging, incapable mothers who have out-reproduced their ability on Nanny 911.
Why have we become so tolerent as a society towards people who will not take responsibility and understand that babies are for life and not just an excuse to throw a baby shower and get some attention? This surely has to be about the right of children to two loving parents in a committed relationship with each other, and who at least have some intention of staying together. You know, I really really fed up with being expected to congratulate people who are pupping children after only having been together for a few months and with no prospect of a wedding in sight. I find myself wanting to ask if they didn't miss out a step! This happens a lot. I've gotten angry on occasions and have not come out with the expected response to the surprise of my husband, daughter, and even myself, but I really feel that some kind of brake need to be put on the endlesly permissive society and bottomless tolerence we Liberals are expected to embrace these days. No, I'm not going to congratulate people who won't marry because they percieve it as some kind of prison while going about casually enetering the most challenging aspects of being in a relationship - namely buying houses and having children. There's no point in anyone cohabiting to smugly tell me that there is no reason to get married (without ever exploring why they won't) and then expecting the same rights in law as those currently guaranteed married couples when it all goes tits-up because they rushed into bed and parenthood with someone they barely know, and they have a brokenhearted kid who will soon not being seeing much of daddy anymore.
I'm not saying that marriage is the perfect answer or that people don't get divorced, but at least show some intention of providing a stable home for the kid! I've been married 23 years and I often think I deserve a Long Service medal and time of for good behaviour! However, even when I was expecting myself all those years ago - I had to put up with my husband being called my "partner" and everytime I had to put them right by saying I was married for five years before getting into that state, I was told that it was not to offend unwed mothers - well what about offending me when they just assumed I wasn't wed? I just don't see the point of political correctness if it is designed to preserve the feelings one group over another. I also don't see the point in civil partnerships - that's why I support gay marriage, but which ever, people are simply having sex and not facing up to the risks and responsibilities and it seems like nobody - not even principled Liberals like me - can say anything against it.
Plainly religion isn't the answer, but what will it take for people to stop producing children by mistake or treating them as cool commodities or lifestyle accessories foe yet another new, short-lived relationship?
This post has been edited by JulesLuvsShinzon: 28 September 2010 - 09:42 AM