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The Last Word: Dear Teen

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Previous Installment/Philosophy vs Rules

Installment #37
Chapter 5: Trips, Stumbles & Falls
The Last Word

Dear Teenage Girls:
This letter is NOT to those of you who have been victims of abuse, or rape
and who might have become pregnant by force.
This letter intended for you teens who are entertaining the thought of getting pregnant
or who have already gotten pregnant, have a child and might be thinking of having another one!

Dear Teen,
I am not going to discuss mores-where once there was shame attached to teen pregnancy,
(certainly in my day), a scarlet letter no longer exists.
(If you do not know this expression, it comes from a very famous book called ‘The Scarlet Letter' by Nathaniel Hawthorne
about a young woman who is accused of adultery and must wear a scarlet letter “A” on her breast as punishment.
The expression ‘to wear a scarlet letter’ has evolved to mean a stigma for some wrong behavior).
I am not going to question the group-think mentality so many of you fall victim to-
I am my friends, they support me, they will help me, they think what I am doing is ok, They think it’s kind of cool.

And I am not going to argue the financial cost of having a baby and raising a child
because you might counter that it can be done with a “village” of sorts.
Your Family, Your friends. School and helpful neighbors.

I could ask about family values: Are family members shocked, sad, worried, resigned,
supportive of an abortion, keeping the child, or demanding it be given up for adoption? 
School protocol: What is the policy? Can you still attend classes?  Attend a pre-natal program? 
But what will the answers to these questions tell me?  Nothing about you, or your core being.
I want to get to your core. I want to see how invested you are in your choices
and  I want you to feel the weight of your decision deep down in your soul.

Reality Check #1: Telling Yourself the Truth

You say getting pregnant was not really on purpose, it was an accident?.
In what way was it an accident? 
There is only one way to get pregnant. Intercourse.
There are only two ways of not getting pregnant.
Abstinence and contraception (not 100% but close enough)
If you are having intercourse unprotected, you will eventually get pregnant.
In fact, the chances are extremely high.
So, when you choose to drink, party, hook up or be sexually active with a boyfriend
you have chosen to put yourself in that pregnancy position (literally) That is no accident. 
Reality check #2: Taking Responsibility
You are responsible for your own sexual health. If you cannot protect it, then you are not ready to have it!
Get smart, or stay off the bed, the couch, or the car seat!!!
You cannot be a grown-up and as clueless as a toddler! 
You cannot walk out the door looking 25 and be as juvenile as a 10 year old. 
You cannot take big risks without being willing to take responsibility for the consequences of those risks.
You cannot blame a boy.  You cannot blame your environment.  You cannot blame your friends. 
You, and you alone are responsible for this most private part of yourself.
Read! Educate yourself! Know everything there is to know about sex, and sexually transmitted deseases.
You have the internet.  It's all there.
There is no excuse for being ignorant about your sexual health.
Once you are pregnant, there are three choices.
Have an abortion.
Keep the baby.
Give the baby up for adoption.
First, an abortion. This is controversial and I do not wish to weigh in on either side of this however---
if you are going to say, you cannot have an abortion, it’s wrong,
and I were to ask you why,
and you were to say-it’s murder,
I would then ask you this-how precious is that baby’s life to you? 
What are you willing to do for its welfare?  Would you die for it? 
Would you give your baby up to give it a better life?
Are you thinking first of the baby, or are you thinking first of yourself?
And, if you are thinking first of yourself,
are you truly ready to do anything and everything
for the well being of your child? 
These are questions you need to answer to yourself-
not to your boyfriend, your friends, or your family-
This is your own very serious moment of truth.

Keep the baby? Why do you want to keep this baby? Dig deep down inside.
Is the truth actually that keeping the baby has nothing whatsoever to do with the baby?
Is it all about you--your desire to want something to love, and that can will love you back? 
Is this all about you wanting to feel important, to have a role, an identity, to belong to a defined group?
Is this all about your need to bring into the world something to play and cuddle with?
Is this all about you wanting to make yourself feel whole and good, and purposeful? 
Remember, you are digging deep, being truthful and taking responsibility
Give Up The Baby?  No? Why wouldn’t you? Dig deep, tell yourself the truth. 
Would you feel as if you were abandoning your baby?  Would you feel so terribly sad and lost? 
Would you feel as if you had failed?  Would you feel as if you had an absolute moral right to keep your own baby. 
Would you feel as if you could make a good life, it would all be ok.
Would you feel you could make it work somehow with help of family and friends? 
Ok. Give up your child? 
Are there any situations where you could see yourself handing your baby over to another mother or couple?
Are your answers about your baby’s welfare or yours? Who’s priorities come first. 
Dig deep, tell yourself the truth.
Reality check #3: Coping With Stress.
Do you really think you could cope with ‘life happens’?
What if your baby were born with a disability? A serious disease?
Could you handle the strain? Emotionally? Financially?
Could you show your child how to work through a learning disability? 
Could you teach it how to handle conflicts and difficulties, setbacks and disappointments? 
Can you look yourself in the face and honestly say you have the skills to guide and protect your child?
Of course you don’t! Not because you are a bad person; not because you can’t love, give warmth or affection;
not because you don’t care, but because you are still too young. 
You cannot cope with yourself, yet! 
No one can fast track emotional maturity.  You are no exception.
You need a lot of time and experience to grow. 
So, look at your own young life and how you have managed it so far.
Remember, you are digging deep, being truthful, and taking responsibility

Reality Check #4: What Do You Have To Offer? 
What do you possess at this moment, what will you have in nine months, and in the next five years to offer your child? 
Will you be able to educate your child?
Can you complete high school, college, learn a skill and be financially independent
while feeding, clothing and schooling a child? 
(Using relatives doesn’t count)
Can you guide him/her to make positive, productive choices? 
Have you defined a value system and tested it. As in, I won't do this even if my friends are.
figured out how to handle your own tough times,
how to educate yourself enough to be economically secure,
and had enough experience with life and in making life choices to parent another being?
Dig Deep, be truthful and take responsibility.
Before you can parent, you need to know you can cope with stress. 
How will you be after four nights of not sleeping? 
Running to emergency with ear and stomachaches?
How will you be when your child goes through the terrible twos and threes
testing your authority, your patience and your sanity. 
How will you be when you want to go out and just have fun,
but you can’t because you need to take care of your baby. 
How will you study and take care of a toddler?
Oh, your family will help out?  Oh, your friends will help you? 
What if your mother or grandmother or aunt gets sick? 
What if your friends want to party instead or have their own responsibilities,
and you are left alone? 
What if guys aren’t interested in being weekend dads?
And speaking of Dads, you may have decided a dad isn’t important.  Guess what? 
He most certainly is! Think about your dad. Good role model? 
If he’s not-someone didn’t think that was important enough for you.
And how has he influenced your attitude towards men?
Is your mother a good role model?  Why? Or Why not?
Do you think you can be the Mom she is? 
Would you want to be the mom, your mother is?
News flash. You will become who you do not want to be if you do not grow your own character.
You know what you do not want. That’s easy. But being a better person is hard.
t is even harder with a baby.

Reality #5. This is for life!
Babies are NOT stuffed animals you cart around and keep on the bed.
They are not pets that you can leave at home when you go out
Babies become toddlers, preteens, teenagers, young adults, and future parents. 
Having a baby is for life. 
Once you become a mother, you do NOT fly solo,
and no matter how many friends you have, it is your CHILD to whom you will now and forever be bound
and who will be the recipient of all you do or don’t do.
If that child suffers because of your ignorance, or recklessness the blame is yours and yours alone.

Reality #6: A Selfish Act.
The act of getting pregnant on purpose or by willful recklessness is the most selfish act
you will ever commit as a person bar none.
It is the worst “welcome to this world” party you could ever throw for a newborn,
and the most outrageous burden ever to put on whoever will have to help and support you in raising this child.
Your baby will have no say in its fate. 
Yet, you are choosing to get pregnant and bring a totally innocent and helpless victim of your selfishness into the world
with all the odds set against it.
How outrageous is that to do! 
You, who proudly say that you would never have an abortion,
would never give your baby up,
would never use contraception;
you, who claim to be a vegetarian for you cannot kill animals,
care about the environment,
worry about global warming,
and endangered species,
are yet willing to bring a fragile being into an extremely endangered environment
with absolutely no safety net!  

You can offer a baby absolutely nothing and so, as I said,
you are committing the most outrageously selfish act in the name of love.
Emotional selfishness leads to terrible parenting. 
At this moment in time, you will be a terrible parent.
Parenting is not like a job you can switch, or a school you can change, or a guy you can leave.
If you choose to keep this baby, it is yours for life!

So here is my MomOpinion advice.

Take your desire to belong, and feel important,
your longing to be loved and to feel complete,
your need to feel purposeful and good
and put it all to productive use--
go build houses for Habitat for Living;
work with at risk kids from truly impoverished settings,
or cuddle crack-addicted, or Aids afflicted babies in hospitals. 
Stay in school, educate yourself, develop skills,
grow understanding, perspective and emotional maturity
and become a functioning young adult.

If you really want to test out your parenting skills, get a puppy.
Take care of it well, (no easy task) and do not pass the responsibility onto someone else. 
That puppy will need love, and attention and consistent care.
A puppy will teach you much about yourself, and your threshold for tolerance
when your favorite shoes are chewed,
your projects get trashed, or your skirt gets muddied or ripped. 
Will you lose your temper and hit your dog? 
If so, you will hit your toddler for breaking a keepsake.
Rage is rage.  The recipients are interchangeable. 

Lastly, I know I have sounded harsh, but I do care very deeply about you.
And I believe in you, as I do in all young people. 
Even when I get brutally honest (for I will never give you double speak)
I still have tremendous faith in you. 
I believe in your heart and your spirit.
And I believe while you might act selfishly you also deep down at your core,
wish very badly to do the right thing and be a good person.
Right now you need to feel your core, and listen to the deepest part of your being.
and do what is right for your baby and for you.
You cannot move forward if you are stuck in false thinking.
So here are the steps you can take right now.
1) Be truthful with yourself about how and why you got pregnant.
2) Take Responsibility for your sexual health
3) Assess Your Coping Skills as a Parent
4) Define What You Can Offer Your Child
5) Know That This Decision is For Life
6) Admit to Your Selfishness

I want your heart to shine and I will support and root you every bit of the way
on your journey towards emotional maturity. 
I will not support you getting pregnant on purpose or by reckless accident.
You have a lot of time to become a mother. If you can love, you can mother. 
But Love will only be positive if put in a positive environment.
If you wait to have a baby when you are emotionally ready,
when you can offer it financial security, and physical safety and future promise,
when you can teach it perspective and optimism, you will be ready.
Your child will be emotionally healthy and strong,
your child will love and respect you
and both your hearts will shine. Promise.
Mama Judge
Some Facts:
*According current government statistics, teen pregnancy has been on the rise since 2006. 
*The highest number of teenage births is occurring in the Hispanic community. 
* Babies born to teens are more likely to grow up in poverty.
*Teens who have babies are more likely to live in poverty.
Dig deep. Tell yourself the thruth.  Take responsibility
H20 to Go!

Growing Emotional Resilience and Navigating Through Childhood

with Heart, Humor & Optimism

BY Margo Judge

Updated 2009

H20 to Go! Copyright, 2004
By  Margo Judge

All rights reserved.
All material on this website protected.
Permission granted for reprinting with
Attribution to Margo@MomOpinion Matters (TM) 

 We are leaving Chapter 5 and Trips, Stumbles and Falls. I purposely did not discuss addiction, behavioral disorders, depression or learning challenges all of which would need to include professional expertise and medical evaluation. I am not a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or special education consultant. I am a mentor. If anyone wishes to contact me in reference to any other situation that I, as mentor, could offer some perspective about, please feel free to write me at Email MomOpinionMatters re: question re: Chapter 5.  I will respond to you.
H20 to Go! speaks to those issues that involve choice and to a philosophy that builds emotional resilience. I profoundly believe that with love, support, and perspective, our children can have enormous power to influence their emotional well-being.
Chapter 6 begins high school academics, social pressures, and the stresses of the college process.  Here we go up the last steep hill. It will be ok. Promise!