John McCain's VP pick, Sarah Palin, has a 17 year old daughter that is expecting a baby. This news has swept through the press like wildfire, each having their own view on this "situation."
Having been a teen mother myself, I cannot help but listen closely to how people react to Sarah Palin and her daughter.
Something that I have personally found to be true is the fact that many very pro-life people are the ones that degrade and belittle teen parents the most. This leaves teenagers that become pregnant in quite a predicament, doesn't it? If you choose to keep the baby, as soon as your belly announces your pregnancy to the world, the dirty looks and mean remarks begin. If you choose to have an abortion, the same people scream at you that you are a murderer. (and, I would agree that abortion is murder.. this is not my point.)
My point is, neither choice will make the supposed "pro-life" group happy.
When digging into the reasons behind that, it's fairly simple, yet terribly complex. Let's do a quick run-down, shall we?
*News Alert* Sex out of marriage is a sin. Knowing that teenagers typically wind up pregnant outside of marriage means that oh-so-SELF-righteous "Christians" must show their utmost disgust at the resulting pregnancy. Being supportive, or God forbid LOVING, to a teenager that is pregnant would be like condoning the premarital sex! Now, we surely cannot have that! I mean, Jesus would surely spit on a pregnant teenage girl, not hold her and comfort her. I'm sure our loving Christ would speak horrible words both to and about the girl so she would realize how wrong she was for having sex and how stupid she was for getting pregnant.
Does that sound a bit wrong to you? It should. Those last sentences were dripping with sarcasm.
#2 on the rundown - Teenagers make horrible parents!
The main focus of many, in regards to teen parents, is how there is no way for two 'kids' to raise a child. That always interests me... it seems to me that my husband and I raised our daughter quite well. We made very adult decisions and took responsibility for our daughter from the start. From our decision for me to stay home with her - that was so NOT the popular decision to make - to our decision for Clayton to sacrifice working full-time for more money to finish his college degree. Clayton graduated from college, WITH HONORS, when Madison was 2 years old. Oh yes, having a baby ruins your life! You can never accomplish your dreams once you give birth!
Do all teen parents make good choices? Are they all good parents? Of course not. However, I'd give anything to look at the average age of the parents that DHS takes children away from because of their horrible parenting choices. How many do you assume will be over the age of 20? How many will even be much older?
In my opinion, teens that are horrible parents would likely be horrible parents no matter how old they are. Some teens will need a lot more support and guidance than others, but there is absolutely no reason they cannot do a stand-up job at being parents. I have three friends that all had babies in their teens and have done fantastic jobs raising their kids!
So, let's say that a teen girl that knows her family, friends, and even strangers are going to shun her, make fun of her, call her names, avoid her, and even disown her when they find out she is pregnant. Let's say she believes all of the crap she hears about how she can never have the "right" life if she has a baby. Perhaps this girl has never seen Christ's love in her life... that supposed Christians around her are all quick to judge, to spout off, to belittle. In her fragile state... she makes what seems like the best choice. She chooses to have an abortion. She thinks it will simply wipe away the "problem." Later in life she will realize what happened and will likely suffer depression because of a choice she made when she was too young and scared to make it.
What happens to that girl when people find out she had an abortion? Basically, the same thing that would happen if she had kept the baby. The exact same group of people will have horrible things to say to her no matter what she chooses. This girl cannot win.
The point of this post isn't to say that teenagers should be getting pregnant. Goodness knows I am a big advocate for education and spiritual support so kids will not make the wrong choices in life. I know far too many girls end up single mothers with no support because of the circumstances surrounding the time they got pregnant. Teen pregnancy is not ideal, and it never will be. However, it is not the end of life. It is the beginning of a new life, and a new phase of life.
How many people look at young parents and ridicule them, even if only in their own heads? How could we change a teenager's life if we stopped judging and starting loving? What if we thought about how that teen already feels about him or herself because of the upcoming arrival?
I, personally, was on top of the world before I found out I was pregnant. I was that sickening oh-so-perfect (seemingly) popular girl that had everything in life handed to me on a silver platter. I worked hard, and I earned a lot. I ran with the group that just didn't have bad things happen to them. When I found out I was pregnant, I felt my world go completely upside-down. I knew I was a major disappointment to my entire family. The shame I felt is something words cannot express. It is the shame I would imagine almost every teen mother feels. Teen fathers don't show the physical signs of becoming a parent. They don't carry the literal weight that shows the world that you are having a baby. They don't experience the dirty looks, the horrible words, and the questions of why on earth you don't "just have an abortion."
The internal feelings I had were hard enough to handle without the outside world also bombarding me with criticism. I made the decision quickly to pretty much tell the world to shut up and to hold my head high and be proud of my baby. God gave her to me... I have no idea why. I was, and still am, so completely undeserving. He gave me Clayton... and I have no idea why. Again, I am so completely undeserving. He made us a family and I will forever be grateful.
The next time you see a teen girl that has a baby on her hip or a belly to show her pregnancy, examine your heart when thoughts enter your mind. Are they what Christ would think? Would Christ say to her what you are about to? Does asking her things like, "That's not your baby, is it?" and saying "You're too young to have a baby," really do nothing for her. She knows she's young. She knows you do not approve. Knowing all of the horrible things she had coming from the outside world, she still made the brave decision to give life to her child. Not knowing how she would do it, where the money would come from, or how her family would react, she chose to choose life. Doesn't she deserve at least a smile from you or a kind word for making the right choice?
Like it or not, abortion as a choice is not likely to leave our country any time soon. To help reduce abortions, one thing we can all do is simply be loving. You have no idea how one person's support can change someone's life. Your support could save an unborn baby's life. Your ridicule could help cause its death. What choice will you make in your own life the next time you are in a situation to help or hurt a teen parent?