Why Does our Culture Encourage Teen Girls to Have Babies?

People magazine - June 1, 2009

Approximately four percent of teenage girls gave birth in 2009. We’re not sure if that means during the course of seven teenage years 28 percent of girls will heave-to with a bouncing baby burden on society, but whatever it means ain’t good. At least not overall.

True or false: Unmarried teenage girls having babies before completing high school is a good idea. Trick question. You can have any opinion you want. There’s no right answer. But there is a bad one: false.

In the Winter, 2011 issue of City Journal, Connecticut teacher Gerry Garibaldi laments the fact that so many teenage girls are trapping themselves in lives they did not anticipate, by having irresponsible sex. All four of Garibaldi’s favorite female students in his English and journalism classes are pregnant.

            They’re tired, sick, and/or overstressed. Here is Garibaldi’s well-taken point: American society is celebrating unwed motherhood as a good thing. The single mother, working and raising her kid all by herself has become somehow heroic. And as we have previously pointed out on this web site, entertainment magazines and TV shows celebrate this state of affairs.

           Natalie Portman, Halle Berry, Nicole Richie, Jessica Alba and Bristol Palin (Remind us, why is Sarah Palin’s daughter a celebrity again? Oh yeah; because she got PREGNANT!) have all become celebrated single mothers.

            The difference, of course, between them and the average high school student is that they have lots of money and they can afford all the help they need. But that still does not provide the balanced two-parent family that typically gives kids a leg up in life.

            Unsupported teenage girls, of course, are entitled to an array of federal and state benefits. After all, as a progressive society, are we not compelled to save the innocent tykes who are a result of their mothers’ bad judgment from lives of destitution and deprivation? Why should kids be punished because of the unfortunate – or irresponsible – behaviors of their parents? In fact, there is a plethora of programs that jump in once the mother-to-be becomes a mother-to-be.

            As Gerry Garibaldi puts it, “In theory, this provision of services is humane and defensible, an essential safety net for the most vulnerable – children who have children. In practice it is a monolithic public endorsement of single motherhood – one that has turned our urban high schools into puppy mills. The safety net has become a hammock.”

            Frequently, these kids come from single-mother homes and pass that cultural heritage onto their own progeny. When Garibaldi asked two of his pregnant students to write about single motherhood, what it means to them, and the statistics for kids who have kids, they rebelled. They wanted to write about the good, loving aspects of motherhood, not about the statistics that slap them in the face with disproportionately high rates of suicide, drug dependency and incarceration for kids from single-parent households.

            And so it goes. Who cares if you have elementary school-level reading competency when you have a baby who proves that you really are somebody? Who cares whether or not boys from single-parent households usually drop out of the picture once they see the responsibilities that parenthood entails?

            Let’s wrap this up in a tidy little bundle. When are we going to have some serious cojones and teach kids that it’s not okay to have unprotected sex, much less babies? When are we going to make it an ethical issue for celebrities to not set a bad example for their fans? And when are we going to set conditions for those who choose to follow a life of government-dependent parenthood to meet strict criteria – like completing their educations and contributing to society, even if in a volunteer capacity – if they want to benefit from overstretched government largesse?

            There are Enough of Us. And there are too many of us who are not doing the right thing for their kids and for themselves. How many 32-year-old grandmothers are we going to have in America?



  1. There will surely be as many opinions on this subject as there are readers of this blog. It is MY opinion that today’s pop culture is one of total irresponsibility: If you want it, you should have it. And if you don’t want it tomorrow, you should be able to walk away from it.
    Teenagers know where babies come from. They just can’t imagine being locked into a lifetime of committment that goes with creating one. And, more often than not, they aren’t locked in. They have a way out that puts the child into someone else’s care.
    There is no longer any shame in promiscuous behaviour since today’s role-models are glorified for it, and our society tell them that anything you want to do is just fine. Some people are sure that the shame of bygone days was a bad thing, but it sure kept kids of doing stupid things.

Speak Your Mind