Flea wrote a post several days ago that I linked to in my latest round-up post. She responded to a minister who grappled with ideas of abortion and choice and teen pregnancy with her usual eloquence. I returned yesterday to find nearly fifty comments to this post, some of which were absolutely disparaging.
I’ve relayed this story many times, the story of my pregnancy and giving birth at eighteen. In short, I had an unplanned pregnancy, decided for several reasons not to get an abortion, was kicked out of my parents’ home (though this is debated within the family), and lived with friends nearly until E was born. I was sick the whole time I was pregnant with chronic bladder, urinary tract, and kidney infections, one of which landed me in the hospital for a week (at which point I was released from the hospital a week early with an IV in my arm and instructions on how to change it by myself — Medicaid rules!), and ended up giving birth two months early due to HELLP syndrome, an affliction that very nearly killed me and will probably recur should I ever get pregnant again.
I chose not to get married, but moved in with E’s dad. We stayed together for one miserable year, both of us horribly depressed, until I finally moved out and back in with my parents. Nonetheless, I managed to finish high school (barely) and immediately started college. Five and a half years later, I’m about to finish up with my undergraduate degree and plan to apply for grad school.
My son is healthy, happy, and wickedly smart. He can read at a 2nd grade level even though he has yet to start kindergarten, knows how to tell a good joke, and loves music just as much as his mom and dad do.
We’re so obviously failures. *gag*
A long time ago I wrote a post about FIPs and KEIs, the kinds of people you’re most likely to meet in large, expensive family-type environments like smelly children’s museums and aquariums pushing around strollers the size of SUVs while their kids run all over the place hitting passersby with broken $30 souveniers they don’t appreciate anyway.
For those of you who didn’t read this post:
FIP – n. abbrev. – 1. fucking inconsiderate parent. 2. parent who is so enthralled with the beauty and splendor of their offspring that said offspring is allowed to do whatever she or he pleases at the expense of other people. 3. usually consists of highly-wealthy parents who should be expecting grandchildren, and are well-versed in an ideology asserting that all forms of discipline stifle a child’s burgeoning creativity; generally buy toys that irritate by-standers and clunky accessories that take up vast expanses of lauren’s personal space. 4. passes down elitist notions of class, race, and gender to children thereby giving child EI. 5. parent to a KEI.
KEI – n. abbrev. 1. kids with entitlement issues. 2. unfortunate brat of an FIP
This post is more about FIPs than KEIs, though one may intuit where I’m going with this. When I trained as a CASA three years ago, one of the things that was drilled into us was the notion that our job as child advocates was to discern whether or not the child’s living situation was harmful to the children, not to hold their lifestyles up to our overwhelmingly middle- and upper middle-class standards. Nonetheless, I trained with people who thought that teen parents should automatically have custody revoked simply by nature of their being young. Not kidding. And they were licensed anyway. So begins my peripheral relationship with FIPs.
FIPs are people so concerned with the image of their family life that they forget there is a family life to tend to. Their children are extensions of their fragile egos living mythical lives, not real people with actual feelings and life experiences separate from themselves. When reasonable people look at FIPs, they see uppity, moralizing proseletyzers keen on harping on people whom they perceive to be lesser beings.
What is this perception of Otherhood usually based on? Money.
The FIPs are getting carried away on Flea’s thread, trying to fit all teen parents into one convenient box:
I have NO SYMPATHY for teens who … through their own stupidity (oh, my bf doesn’t like condoms! or oh, my bf will leave me if we don’t do it! oh, if I have his baby, he’ll love me forever! etc etc etc) get pregnant and then f* up the life of their baby by deciding to keep it.
I don’t want my child bringing home any living creature that they cannot take care of and becomes my responsibility. Yes, if carried to term, this is a baby. It is selfish of the teen to want to keep a baby she cannot afford. It just isn’t fair to the child. There are many infertile adult couples just aching for a baby.
…once you DO get pregnant, and decide not to abort… you have a RESPONSIBILITY to that child to give it the best possible upbringing…and that usually does NOT mean keeping the baby and having your parents raise it too. If you’re old enough to CHOOSE to have sex, and you get pregnant, you had better be old enough to deal with the consequences of your actions.
Babies are punisment for sluts and children should be raised in isolation. Right. The anecdotal evidence is breathtaking.
When people talk about lack of parent preparedness, the overwhelming thread seems to be about money, ironic considering that many anti-choice activists rail against those who have abortions in part for lack of economic stability. My oh so humble opinion states if you think parenting should be based on one’s earning power, you shouldn’t have any fucking kids. And this rhetoric about turning teenagers into babymaking machines for infertile couples is just reeks of offensiveness. One should never have one’s support as a parent cut off by virtue of age. All parents need emotional support. As young parents, we need more.
My decision to become a parent was difficult for many around me. I was told that I would screw up my life and my potential, and my child would grow up poor and without opportunity. Those were the people that I immediately cut off (some of whom are now parents from unplanned pregnancies — oh sweet karma). Of the many young, single parents I know, the ones who succeed are the ones who have a great deal of support. This support need not be economic or even familial. What we have are peers that understand just how difficult it can be, trade secrets of parenting, give one another tips on how to navigate the structural systems that lend us aid, and offer emergency babysitting. The ones I know who have failed are those who are told from the get-go that they will fail, they will fuck up their child, they will fuck up their own futures, and are immediately cut off at the root without any belief that there is a chance of success.
My family and I have since reconciled and they have become a wonderful resource. One day several years ago, my brother-in-law approached me and told me that he was thrilled to have gotten to know Ethan. He became a parent at twenty-six, having been married to my sister for several years, both of them pulling in sizable incomes. He told me that at first, he thought my choice to parent would be a disaster.
“But then,” he said, “even though I read all the books and thought I knew what was ahead of me, I realized I wasn’t prepared to be a parent either. You know, I don’t think anyone is.”
Similar Posts (automatically generated):
- New York City to teen moms: You suck, and your kids hate you. by Caperton March 14, 2013
- Bad Advice by Jill June 2, 2006
- When Do You Stop Being a “Teen Mother”? by Lauren January 18, 2006
- I Was a Teen Mom by Lauren January 4, 2005
- File Under “Feminism is Good for Families” by Jill February 9, 2009