New York City to teen moms: You suck, and your kids hate you.

An ad campaign by the NYC Human Resources Administration would like you to know that your kids hate you for being a teen mom. Or, more accurately, that your future kids will hate you if you become a teen mom, much like the kids of current teen moms hate them. Because Daddy left, and now he’s absent and stuck with child support, and Mommy’s alone and poor, and the kid will never make anything of herself, and why did you not just keep your legs together, Mom?

The ads feature crying babies, resentful quotes, and statistics. But mostly the babies and the quotes.

“I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen.”

“Honestly Mom… chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?”

“Dad, you’ll be paying to support me for the next 20 years.”

“Got a good job? I cost thousands of dollars each year.”

And in a classic, poster-sized conflation of correlation and causation:

“If you finish high school, get a job, and get married before having children, you have a 98% chance of not being in poverty.”

“[You] aren’t shit, will never be shit, and are going to have a life of doom and gloom.”

You can also text NOTNOW to the number on the poster to play a choose-your-own-adventure game as a pregnant teen named Anaya in which your best friend calls you a loser at the prom and your parents shun you and your boyfriend walks out on you. The $400,000 campaign currently appears in bus shelters and will soon come to subways in neighborhoods with high rates of teen pregnancy, where teen parents are most likely to see them and feel appropriately horrible about how they’re foolish and alone and poor and their children hate them.

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108 comments for “New York City to teen moms: You suck, and your kids hate you.

  1. Hrovitnir
    March 14, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    So disgusting. Shows exactly how “society” sees teen mothers though. Because you know, if we’re supportive, all these kids will start popping out kids – better shame ’em quick!

  2. TJ
    March 14, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I’m confused. Is the point of this campaign to shame already pregnant teens into getting abortions? Or to scare them away from sex because they will obviously undoubtedly fall pregnant if they do have sex because they aren’t given comprehensive sex ed in schools?

    I don’t think either one works.

  3. March 14, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Thanks, mods, for removing that little turdlet that was left in the comments.

  4. EG
    March 14, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    I loathe this campaign with every fiber of my being. It’s so fucking offensive. What do they expect teen moms to do? Push the kid(s) back in?

    If the city were really concerned about graduation rates and sufficient economic support for the children of teenage mothers, it would put together easily accessible social programs that teenage girls could use to get economic aid, good, respectful health-care, tutoring for themselves and their children (hey, they’re teens, don’t we care about their education any longer, or do we not give a shit because they had a kid, so screw them), good, trustworthy, reliable child-care, job placement, and suchlike.

    Instead we just want to paint a big red letter M on teenage mothers and blame them for every negative thing in their kids’ lives. Fucking great.

    • Emolee
      March 14, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      EG, to answer your first question, I don’t think they are even thinking of what teen moms should do (they are already “hopeless”). This is aimed at teens who are not yet moms. And the city chooses to shame and demonize teens who are already moms to do it. Which as you say is so fucking offensive.

      • EG
        March 14, 2013 at 5:51 pm

        Of course. I should’ve realized. Because once you’ve had a baby, you’re some kind of lost fucking cause.

  5. Emolee
    March 14, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Another horrible fail about this campaign (which is generally horrible) is that to the best of my knowledge it offers NO information or assistance to teens who wish to avoid pregnancy and/or childbirth (like info on contraception).

  6. March 14, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    So the essence of feminist thinking and analysis is to censor any idea or comment you disagree with?

    • Katniss
      March 14, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      An article saying a campaign is offensive is calling for censorship…how exactly?

      • March 14, 2013 at 5:45 pm

        Katniss, he left a sneering little turdlet of a comment that I’m assuming one of the mods deleted. Good riddance, I say.

    • March 14, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      No, it’s to scoop up and flush any shit that gets left in our house. Training we got, being teen moms and all.

      • EG
        March 14, 2013 at 5:54 pm

        “Essence of Feminist Thinking” is the name of my new fragrance, to be released next year. The scent is guaranteed to drive away self-righteous lawyer-trolls, but create a more pleasant atmosphere for everybody else. Pre-order your bottle today!

      • Emolee
        March 14, 2013 at 5:55 pm

        Put me down for 2. One for me and one for guests.

      • Bagelsan
        March 15, 2013 at 8:01 pm

        Bottle? I’d like a tub.

    • Emolee
      March 14, 2013 at 5:54 pm

      Also, I love how anything that any feminist does at all ever must be the “essence of feminist thinking”

    • SophiaBlue
      March 14, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      Since criticism apparently equals censorship, I have to ask: Adam, why are you trying to censor Caperton’s article?

      • Emolee
        March 14, 2013 at 6:05 pm

        Sophia, I was going to tell him that criticism doesn’t equal censorship, but due to mac’s comment, I think his beef is that one of his comments was removed, and that is what he is calling censorship. Although refusal to give someone a platform also doesn’t equal censorship. He is free to post that comment on his own blog (or, I’m sure, plenty of other places).

      • tomek
        March 14, 2013 at 6:57 pm

        i disagree with this. while in the technical definition it is not censorship to remove comment from this blog, this action does not do good for free speech, and does not bring conversation and debate.

        if his comment was not removed, maybe people can reply to him and tell him why he is wrong. that way everyone learn, including people who are not commenting on blog but just reading. if you delete comment, people whom are watching just see guys views being silenced, and feel bad about this. even if guy is wrong, still let his opinion stand, and criticize if it is wrong. just do not remove.

      • March 14, 2013 at 9:45 pm

        tomek, if I thought the removed comment was something that could lead to conversation and education, I would have left it. Since it was simply obnoxious, I deleted it. My judgment.

        Further discussion of this topic is great material for the spillover thread, or you can simply bow to my supreme moderatorial authority.

      • a lawyer
        March 15, 2013 at 10:19 am

        Repeat after me, folks.

        1) The first amendment applies to prevent government suppression of speech.

        2) Last I checked, Feministe is not a government entity.

        3) The First Amendment right to free speech does not apply to Feministe.

        oh yeah:

        4) Even the lawyers I know shrink from putting “esq” after their name. That said, “Jill, Esq.” would be a funny moniker….

    • March 14, 2013 at 6:17 pm

      It’s funny, Adam, but I actually get to censor any idea I want to. It’s one of the benefits of having my own blog. (Another benefit: Priority seating at the Cheesecake Factory.)

      • March 14, 2013 at 6:30 pm

        Check your mod privilege! :P :P :P :P :P

      • Tim
        March 14, 2013 at 7:14 pm

        You do get to, but it isn’t even really censorship, since you are not a government entity (or at least I don’t think you are) with the power to punish/oppress speech. It’s your blog, so it’s just editing, or selection, or something. So he is wrong even about that.

    • RichardVW
      March 14, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      So the essence of feminist thinking and analysis is to censor any idea or comment you disagree with?

      Yes, but only in the sense that the essence of legal thought is to bandage up your hemorrhaging ego with a title like “esquire”.

      • Computer Soldier Porygon
        March 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm


    • RoryBorealis
      March 14, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      If you’re going to Esq. yourself, you should at the very least be familiar enough with ConLaw, U.S.-style or Canadian, to know the definition of censorship. Helpful hint: it involves government entities, not private parties. You’re welcome.

      • Gillian
        March 15, 2013 at 2:19 pm

        But feminists control the world through, you know, icky girly Ways, so anything done by a feminist is actually being done by the secret evil feminist cabal that is in charge of teh gubmint, so it is actually censorship whenever someone is prevented from showing us feminists the error of our ways.

        QED, dontchaknow.

    • Donna L
      March 15, 2013 at 1:14 am

      The only people who would put “Esq.” at the end of a blog comment are embarrassingly self-important jackasses. Doing so doesn’t make what you say sound any more persuasive; to the contrary, it makes people far more likely to ignore or ridicule you. Both of which, judging from your comments, you well deserve.

      • Angie unduplicated
        March 15, 2013 at 12:21 pm

        The “Esq.” title tends to be carried by small-town RWNJ lawyers up in Lamar Alexander country. I believe it might also be used in Arkansas. Never saw it in GA, FL, AL.

      • Donna L
        March 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm

        The only time I ever use “Esq.,” and pretty much the only time I ever see anyone else use it, is to address other lawyers when sending a letter to them, in the address block and on the envelope. But I never use it for myself, in signing letters or legal documents or otherwise, and if I ever saw anyone else do that I’d think there was something very odd going on.

  7. matlun
    March 14, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Since I never saw your original comment, perhaps I should not judge you but seriously the “, Esq” at the end of your name does not make me believe it was a valuable point. Feel free to call me petty and judgmental if you want.

    • matlun
      March 14, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      Why am I unable to get my responses to go in the right place? Am I incompetent or can I blame the blog threading interface?

      That was supposed to be a response to “Adam Michael Sacks, Esq.” above.

      • Tyris
        March 14, 2013 at 7:23 pm

        It just isn’t a day without a threading error.

        The future robot overlords content themselves, for now, with making their power felt by inconveniencing you in little ways like that one.

  8. tomek
    March 14, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    first… is it true that they have not got the sex education in new york city? articles suggest they have only abstinance-only education. why is this so when new york city has reputation as liberal place?

    what is the logic behind having abstinance only education provided by public funded school? in my understanding, usa constitution says to separate church and state. public funded school seem to be part of state to me, so why is church morality being teached here?

    • Anon21
      March 15, 2013 at 12:25 am

      what is the logic behind having abstinance only education provided by public funded school? in my understanding, usa constitution says to separate church and state. public funded school seem to be part of state to me, so why is church morality being teached here?

      This is actually an excellent question! I think the short and dissatisfying answer is that things which are merely consistent with religious doctrine, but which don’t make theological claims, can be taught in public schools. But I agree with your implication: the overwhelming majority of people pushing abstinence-only education are doing so for religious reasons, and we should look askance at its being taught in public school for that reason. (Plus, it doesn’t seem to produce good outcomes.)

  9. the_leanover
    March 14, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    What an absolutely loathsome campaign.

    This may be a little off-topic, but it puts me in mind of an ‘anti-domestic violence’ campaign in my city a year or so ago, consisting of posters of weeping children with captions like ‘mum, every time he hits you I hear it’, the message essentially being ‘if you’re staying in an abusive relationship you’re a bad mother’. So yeah, similar: the idea of reducing unplanned teen pregnancies (and letting teens know they are not obliged to continue with unplanned pregancies), and the idea of encouraging women to get out of abusive relationships? Both wonderful. Doing it through shaming women that they are not THINKING OF THE CHILDREN enough (I mean just stop being so goddamn selfish by irresponsibly letting yourself get beat up and think of how it’s affecting your kid!)? Fucking abhorrent.

    • EG
      March 14, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      The best anti-domestic violence campaign I ever saw was in London, and it was targeted at abusers. It said things like “There are no safe houses for abusers. We will track you down, we will find you, and we no longer need your partner to press charges in order to arrest you.” (That’s a paraphrase; I don’t remember exactly what the change in the law had been.)

      • MissWhich
        March 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm

        Yet another reason to move to the UK…

      • the_leanover
        March 15, 2013 at 8:46 pm

        Well, the campaign I mentioned was also from the UK, so…

    • March 14, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      I imagine the crying!children campaign was less about “you’re a bad mother if you stay with an abuser” and more to combat the idea that women are doing the right thing by keeping kids’ parents together…even if it’s with an abuser. And given that there are just as many scare campaigns and misinformation out there trying to lead women to think that they’re going to ruin their kids’ lives if they bring them up single…

      I don’t know, I guess what I am saying is that even if the posters are a bad idea, I can see where someone probably came up with them with a better motive than the teen parent ones.

      • the_leanover
        March 15, 2013 at 8:52 pm

        I don’t disagree that the intention was probably good; it’s just a really awful strategy for getting that point across. From a quick google, this post does a pretty decent job at explaining why (and also mentions a much better campaign strategy aimed at encouraging women to get out of abusive relationships)

  10. Past my expiration date
    March 14, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    In a Washington Post article today about the NYC campaign, the co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institute says that one of the advantages of being a married college-educated woman is that your family has “enough money to afford good schools for [your] children”.

    Evidently not getting to go to a good school has nothing to do with society. It’s all choices and consequences. That baby made a bad decision, choosing to be born to poor parents!

    • EG
      March 14, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      Oh for fuck’s sake. Is this the society we want, where you can’t go to a good school unless your family has money?

      • (BFing)Sarah
        March 14, 2013 at 10:39 pm

        I feel like that is exactly the world that some people want to live in…and this fills me with so much anger.

      • TomSims
        March 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm

        “Oh for fuck’s sake. Is this the society we want, where you can’t go to a good school unless your family has money?”

        Absolutely spot on. And the big teachers’ unions rail against charter schools that do offer quality education to under served youth in the inner city and other places as well.

      • gratuitous_violet
        March 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm

        Hold up a sec. Teachers unions aren’t perfect, but much of the pushback us aimed toward school districts funneling public money at those charter schools to the detriment of the equally disadvantaged public schools. Public schools in NYC have had their space leased out to charter schools by district officials. But sure, lets pretend like it’s only the big bad teacher’s unions preventing us from fixing inner-city education.

      • Past my expiration date
        March 15, 2013 at 4:03 pm

        And the big teachers’ unions rail against charter schools that do offer quality education to under served youth in the inner city and other places as well.

        Charter schools offer a higher-quality education to undeserved youth in the inner city and other places than public schools? Overall? Citation please.

    • Emolee
      March 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm

      And marriage does not actually make anyone richer. Yes, there is a correlation between single moms and poverty but not a causation. If the father is a deadbeat without money and/or a desire to provide for a child, marrying him won’t help you financially. And if the father is a guy with a job/ money/ desire to provide as much as possible, he could still do so without marriage.

      Actually, unmarried mothers can get child support garnished from wages/bank accounts (if the money is available), but married mothers cannot do much if her husband does not financially contribute to the child. Single mothers also can get more state support, I believe.

      Not saying marriage is not ever a good choice. Just that it is not the silver bullet of financial success for moms.

      • Emolee
        March 14, 2013 at 10:45 pm

        I should have phrased my first sentence better. Certain marriages do make certain people richer. What I meant is that marriage will not *necessarily* make someone better off financially. In fact, some women I know were worse off with marriage because they ended up having not only a baby but a husband to support.

        I also want to be clear that I don’t think people without jobs or money are deadbeats. I used that word to refer to people who could support their children but do not.

      • Anna in PDX
        March 15, 2013 at 3:44 pm

        That was my first response other than of course “what an awful shaming campaign” – don’t people who design these stupid ads get the difference between causation and correlation?

    • theLaplaceDemon
      March 15, 2013 at 6:43 pm

      Really disappointed to see that come out of Brookings. Though I guess it could be taken way out of context, it’s still..ergh.

  11. Scissors
    March 14, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    So, how do we prevent teen pregnancy?

    • EG
      March 14, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      Free contraception.

      • Emolee
        March 14, 2013 at 10:24 pm

        Yay! See also: teaching girls (and boys) how their bodies work without any shaming or moral lecturing about sex.

      • Alara Rogers
        March 15, 2013 at 12:39 am

        Also, giving girls hope that they can *have* a better life.

        If your life path is to go to college, work your ass off in an environment that treats you like you’re a semi-child and don’t have anything better to do than learn, take that knowledge and go into a professional career with it, build up a reputation and some security so that when you do decide to have a baby it doesn’t tank your career, then you have a really good reason to not get pregnant as a teen. If your life path is that the best job you will ever hope for is maybe someday you might be promoted to manager at Wal-Mart, and more likely you’re just gonna work the cash register your whole life… you have absolutely no reason to *not* have a baby as a teenager, and good reasons to do so. Getting your babies out of the way while you’re young enough to live with your mom and get support from her is a good strategy if waiting until you’re older won’t actually improve your financial situation any.

        Teen moms aren’t in poverty because they’re teen moms. Teen moms are teen moms because they’re in poverty. The US has much, much less social mobility than it pretends to; a poor teen girl going to a really bad high school isn’t going to get to go to college and have the kind of professional career where her financial prospects improve greatly if she waits ten years, or fifteen years, to start her family, except in very rare and exceptional circumstances. If you’re going to be just as poor in ten years as you are now, but in ten years your mother will be a lot older and more exhausted and less able/willing to help you, why would you wait? What advantage does it give you?

        This campaign is fucking awful. The people becoming teen mothers are not “good middle class girls” who are going to ruin their lives and be forced into poverty forever… they’re girls who are already poor. (And if they are “good middle class girls” they will probably manage to stay middle class. Girls whose families have money can afford child care and assistive strategies that let her get to college anyway, fairly often, and girls with money probably got knocked up by boys with money, so hitting the dad up for child support when the kid is born won’t actually be blood from a stone.) This is nothing short of victim blaming.

      • Lauren
        March 15, 2013 at 9:43 am

        I’m in your cheering section today. Thank you for summarizing the research so well.

      • March 16, 2013 at 5:45 am

        You’re supposing that a teen mother *can* stay with her mother; or get any kind of support from her family at all. That’s something I’ve seen a lot of people do when arguing that teen motherhood has no disadvantages.

        Do you know how many kids I’ve known that basically grew up knowing “You’re 18, you’re out.” for no reason other than that their parents didn’t like them very much and didn’t want them around any longer than they legally had to?

        Not to mention all the teens whose parents are dead or out of the picture for other reasons. Or are just plain terrible people that you would never in your life want to be dependant on and make your baby dependant on. Some teens have a parent on the sex offender’s list.

        I’m sorry, but this just seems like a really terrible and assuming thing to argue the point on; familial support isn’t universal and never will be.

        Having to depend on your family actually is the one huge disadvantage that I can see to teen motherhood.

        Though yes, it is harder to live in poverty with children. For one thing, it’s harder to find a place to stay if you become homeless. There’s often a friend’s couch available to one woman–but her and her two kids? Ever been turned away from a homeless shelter because there’s only one bed left, and you have a family so you needed more than that? A single person can rent an SRO or efficiency apartment. A person with a child often has to spring for a full apartment that costs double, because a lot of people won’t rent one-room apartments to people with kids.

        How about getting sanctioned on your foodstamps because your employer thought it would be funny to be an asshole and not send your data in on time? So then instead of just having to try to find enough food for yourself, you have to try to do it for 2 or 3 or however many people. And if you don’t, instead of just yourself going without decent food, you get to sit and watch your kids grow up without enough food. (Like anyone could afford enough food on foodstamps, but it’s even worse without them).

        I’m just not seeing why we can’t say it’s wrong to demonize teen mothers, without making the argument about how it’s “not any harder if you’re going to be poor anyway!”. Poor people aren’t any different than the middle-class in that way. It’s probably always going to be financially easier, even for someone working minimum wage, to have a kid later in life than sooner. Later you might already have a car. (Walking in terrible weather with tiny children isn’t typically a fun experience). You might even have a house (yes, people making minimum wages sometimes own houses). You might have some money saved for all the expensive crap babies need.

        There’s something that kind of offends me about the assumptions you’re making about the lives of minimum-wage workers. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but to me it smacks of “Your life is never going to get financially better anyway, so you might as well have kids while you have more energy”. Gee, thanks.

      • Gillian
        March 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm

        And comprehensive, practical sex education

      • March 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm

        You have right, sex education is the best and simple way.

    • Miriam
      March 15, 2013 at 2:04 am

      A better question, IMHO, is do we actually want to prevent teen pregnancy? As Alara Rogers so nicely summarized, there is recent research finding that teen pregnancy does little to alter a teen girl’s life trajectory. So to me, it seems like the better questions than how do we prevent teen pregnancy are how do we provide more teen girls with better life trajectories (which is likely to have the natural result of reducing the teen pregnancy rate) and how do we create better statistical outcomes for the children of teen parents (and also, how do we improve access and effectiveness of contraception among teens). I think the two questions are somewhat intertwined in that I think a lot of standard progressive policies for decreasing class inequity/increasing social mobility will address both halves of the equation at once (things like better public schools, more progressive tax policies, stronger social safety nets, better wages and protection for lower income jobs). I don’t see how shaming is going to help.

      Also, as an older mom, I’m not convinced teen pregnancy is always an intrinsic bad, at least for mothers. I think if we lived in a world without stigma, there are many benefits to a baby being raised by an extended family in those early years. This is situational, of course–it depends on the teen couple or teen parent with primary custody (statistically likely to be the mother) having a healthy relationship with her parents. But if that was the socially normative situation, I think the mother would receive a lot more caretaking and domestic support in the most demanding years than mothers tend to in a nuclear family situation. Also, I think younger parents are better equipped for the sleep deprivation–or at least, I could handle sleep deprivation a lot better in my late teens and early 20s than I can do now (which is why I’ll be stopping with one child… never ever again can I go through months 0-4!).

      • Drahill
        March 15, 2013 at 10:14 am

        I think there is actual evidence that from a purely physical standpoint, teen pregnancy and birth should be discouraged because teens are more likely to suffer physical complications from pregnancy and birth, more likely to give birth prematurely, etc. While those things are still risks for women in their 20s and 30s, the risks seem to be reduced. I don’t think there’s any real issue with telling teenagers that pregancy isn’t really a great thing because it poses larger health risks to them.

        Interestingly enough, I remember being in college and learning that, at least from a social science standpoint, the children of older parents actually have some of the best life outcomes. They are more likely to achieve higher education, tend to have higher self-esteem, have better child-parent relationships, etc. Overall, the data seems to suggest that older parenting has been a qualitative good for the world.

      • shfree
        March 15, 2013 at 10:29 am

        That probably has to do with a lack of prenatal care more than anything else. If a pregnant person is regularly seeing their provider, they can keep on top of any possible complications. And, again, that has to do with poverty levels more than age, because access to a good provider is most often income-dependent.

      • Drahill
        March 15, 2013 at 11:23 am

        Shfree, it depends greatly on what age the mother is. Wikipedia even notes that for older teens (17-18), poor outcomes are more associated with poverty. However, for younger teens (13-16, abouts), even middle or upper class girls have serious risks. Pelvic issues are a big deal, as are other stuff. For them, pregnancy is a serious health risk. I see no reason why this should be glossed over.

      • Miriam
        March 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm

        I should have clarified the ages I was envisioning better when positing a reframing. I agree that we do want to discourage teen pregnancy in younger teens (say 15 and under, with 16 as a border age) due to the increased physical risks.* I don’t think shame is the right tool for this, though (especially as I suspect a non-trivial amount of pregnancies in the 15 and under age range are the result of sexual coercion in one form or another). I was thinking of 17-19 (again with 16 as a border age) when bodies are generally mature enough.

        I don’t think data about outcomes drawn from present-day reality is relevant to my argument, though, because my argument is predicated on us living in a different world. I’m not positive about this, but I suspect that “older parents” are correlates with “higher SES.” In present day society, that’s a huge advantage because we have very little class mobility. But in progressive paradise, that wouldn’t be the case.

        * And take that crappy ev bio arguments justifying using young teen models to advertise women’s clothing.

      • Alara Rogers
        March 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm

        As an older parent, I can tell you that those “better outcomes” are real but were achieved at the expense of the mother’s health.

        There is a tradeoff. We have “safe” child bearing years between about 17 and 34. Biologically, we are best suited to have those kids and recover from it with healthy bodies and our energy levels intact if we have them at the young end of the range. Socially, we are best suited to support those kids and navigate the world’s hazards on their behalf if we have them at the older end of the range. My kids will be better off financially because I waited until I was older and more secure; they will be better off educationally because their mother knows more about life; they will be better off because my levels of patience increased. But they will be worse off because their mother was physically incapacitated by their birth to the point where they have never seen me engage in a physical activity except swimming. They will be worse off because I sleep too much and don’t have the energy or strength to help them as much as I could have when i was younger. They will be worse off because they will be younger when I either die and cease to be able to help them, or become elderly and decrepit and need them to help me.

        Some of the issues of being a mother who is too young are inevitable — a younger mother will never have the wisdom of an older one. But some are purely socially constructed. Why will it be so much better for my kids that I make a lot more money? Why have we allowed ourselves to become a society where that makes such a huge difference?

        It would be best if we lived in a society where a woman could safely choose to have children when she is 26 and it would not end up having negative financial effects. But we don’t.

      • Drahill
        March 15, 2013 at 11:43 pm

        There is a tradeoff. We have “safe” child bearing years between about 17 and 34. Biologically, we are best suited to have those kids and recover from it with healthy bodies and our energy levels intact if we have them at the young end of the range.

        Alara, I feel like I should point out that this is a bit of a generalization. There is a growing body of research that points to individual genetics as a far better indicator of fertility decline than any general “window.” If a woman carries certain genetic markers, her fertility may remain largely intact into her 40s with little negative health outcomes. It’s now becoming advisable to not give women the general “these are your most fertile years: speech, but rather advise genetic testing. I should know, I had it done. I have genetic markers for later in life fertility. Every women known to be in my family tree who we have records for gave birth in her 40s to healthy children, but the tradeoff was they all had late puberty (including myself). So please don’t argue for generalizations about fertility when the research is actually leaning against it in favor of a individualized approach. There’s a great deal out there to be Googled, especially the journal Human Reproduction. It’s interesting stuff.

      • Alara Rogers
        March 17, 2013 at 3:59 pm

        Drahill, I was perfectly fertile at 36, but my pregnancy damn near killed me anyway. It’s not just fertility per se that declines as you get older, it’s your body’s ability to handle pregnancy. And given that doctors actually refer to the age of 34 and older as “Advanced Maternal Age” and take extra precautions with such pregnancies… I am inclined to believe that while it’s quite possible for women to bear healthy pregnancies after age 34 or so, it’s much harder and riskier than it is to do so when you’re younger.

      • Drahill
        March 17, 2013 at 6:48 pm

        Alara, I get the impression you didn’t read what I said. I was pointing out that YOUR experience with pregnancy at an older age is only applicable to YOU. My mother gave birth at ages 40 and 43 and suffered not a single side effect, if she is to be believed. But that is because she carries a genetic makeup that actually predisposes her to healthy older childbearing (same as me). More and more (if you google and look at the research out there), the evidence is saying that fertility age is by and large a case-by-case genetic thing – not a general window, as you keep suggesting. Your experience is applicable only to you, as mine is only applicable to me.

      • (BFing)Sarah
        March 15, 2013 at 8:05 pm

        I think we do want to prevent UNPLANNED pregnancy and I think a lot of teen pregnancies are unplanned. I read a book once that did a qualitative study on teen pregnancy and it mentioned how many teens will say that they did “try” to get pregnant or that they “wanted” a baby, but then in later interviews (and sometimes in the same interview) they say things that totally contradict that and make it clear that this pregnancy was not really planned and desired by both parties. What people say when they get pregnant about being pregnant is complex and is influenced by lots of things, so that’s not really what I’m talking about with this post (although you’d never guess by how long I’m going on).

        My main point is that there are lots of reasons to prevent unplanned pregnancy, and many teen pregnancies do fall into that category. Many early 20’s pregnancies do as well, honestly. And, from personal experience, unplanned pregnancy can really, really suck. You are not emotionally prepared or financially prepared. Even if you have the money, which I did, you might not be truly financially prepared, because its about more than just having “enough” money its about being ready/willing to use it for baby purposes. Planning puts you in a place where you have set money aside just for that reason and you have things put into place that make you comfortable (and what this means obviously varies from person to person). Unplanned pregnancy often means you are not ready to lose your body to another person for nine months (plus much more if you nurse). I was filled with resentment about my inability to move around (bedrest) and with the loss of my old “nice” body. Even if you planned it, that’s hard to lose, but not planning it? I was pretty depressed. Really depressed, actually. And please don’t get me started about the resentment towards the father of the unplanned baby…I’m married to him now, so mine wasn’t severe, but for lots of people that resentment lasts and this is a person you might have to deal with for a LOOOOOONG time. When you put a teen in this position, you can imagine (or you have seen–which I have) how much worse it can be. Teenagers are often not really ready to commit to any activity or person long term and, when you have a baby, you kind of have to commit to either caring for the baby or finding someone that wants to do that most of the time. You can’t just make spur of the moment, all about you decisions anymore. Plus, relationships with everyone are tumultuous during the teen years, let alone relationships with sig others and parents. When you have a baby you need to interact in a different way with your caregivers/parents, because they are often needed to provide support, and some teens can’t really handle that. Love/hate between couples in the teen years is common but when you have a baby “together” you can’t just break things off or take time to cool off without seeing each other. Things become much more serious in ways lots of young people can’t handle. Even the people I know that had kids in their early 20’s really had a hard time with losing their freedom to just be young and have fun and have relationships and make decisions without feeling like you had to be serious b/c you are a parent. Even if a teen thinks they are “ready,” what does that even mean to them? I’m all about not shaming people for being teen parents, but I don’t think its the best time to parent. Yeah, you might be young and active, but you might also be selfish and immature, which are not great qualities for parenting.

      • (BFing)Sarah
        March 15, 2013 at 8:13 pm

        I think if we lived in a world without stigma, there are many benefits to a baby being raised by an extended family in those early years. This is situational, of course–it depends on the teen couple or teen parent with primary custody (statistically likely to be the mother) having a healthy relationship with her parents. But if that was the socially normative situation, I think the mother would receive a lot more caretaking and domestic support in the most demanding years than mothers tend to in a nuclear family situation.

        I get that this is your ideal world and I know that is the ideal world for many. But that is not my ideal world. I DO NOT want to raise my children’s kids. I want to play with them occasionally and then give them right back. I started parenting young and I don’t really want to do it again in my fifties…or anything like it. I like my independence from my extended family and I want my children to be independent in that same way. My in-laws are African and in their culture there is a lot of assistance from extended family in raising children and…it can be a good and a bad thing…that’s all I will say. Its not for me. No thank you!

      • Miriam
        March 16, 2013 at 1:04 am

        I acknowledged that the benefits of an extended family are situational. Obviously not all extended families work well. But then, not all nuclear families work well. There’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all model for families. I’m more about expanding options than swapping out one default for the other.

        I should also clarify that the world I meant by progressive paradise is a world with a strong social safety net, high class mobility, universal health care, and quality public education extending through the collegiate level. It’s not teen mothers raising their children in an extended family. However, I think in this world, the pluses and minuses to teen parenthood and even young adult parenthood are going to be very different than they are now. I also think it’s worth acknowledging that there can be some pluses.

  12. tinfoil hatie
    March 15, 2013 at 2:00 am

    As usual, missing from this stunningly misogynist and anti-teen campaign is the assignment of responsibility to the boys and men who participate in creating teenage pregnancy. As usual, “He will abandon you because hey, that’s what dudes do (shrug),” is employed. All the better for shaming teenage girls, who after all connived, seduced, and tortured boys/men into impregnating them.

    • Tyris
      March 15, 2013 at 6:43 am

      Hell, the one ad they’ve got actually targeted at the boys is “Dad, you’ll be paying to support me for the next 20 years.” The father will have to pay to support the child whether he’s there or not, but the “20 years” automatically implies running off and just paying the minimum mandated child support payments until he no longer has to, rather than giving some actual help.

      So, yeah. Way to encourage deadbeats, campaigners.

      • Angie unduplicated
        March 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm

        It would work much better if they told deadbeat dads that even their Social Security disability can be garnished by the government for back child support. One of my tenants lost a third of his check to pay child support on a woman now 28 years old. Deadbeat dads also can be garnished for any social services required to support the child, if the court so moves.

  13. maruja de lujo
    March 15, 2013 at 5:55 am

    tinfoil hattie, I’m getting a bit confused because there seem to be various hateful campaigns (ostensibly) aimed at teenage pregnancy at the moment, but the OP contains these quotes:

    ““Dad, you’ll be paying to support me for the next 20 years.”

    “Got a good job? I cost thousands of dollars each year.”

    Everyone should know how time-consuming and tiring and expensive it is to be a parent, and boys and young men should be dissuaded from thinking of conception solely as a woman’s responsibility. But it would be awful if that take on things should come to be associated with the nasty, ignorant mindset of this campaign, which looks like bullying and chiding for the sake of it, rather than an intelligent attempt to help adolescents make sensible decisions.

    • Past my expiration date
      March 15, 2013 at 7:58 am

      Everyone should know how time-consuming and tiring and expensive it is to be a parent,

      Actually, apparently it’s time-consuming and tiring to be a mother, and it’s expensive to be a father.

      • tinfoil hattie
        March 16, 2013 at 10:53 pm

        Precisely. The entire campaign rests on the assumption that the fathers will leave, and be “stuck” paying for “some kid,” which the slutty mother will obnoxiously pester him for.

        Not to mention, mothers do get actual jobs, and have financial responsibility right along with fathers.

  14. Lauren
    March 15, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Becoming a teen parent was the best bad decision I ever made.

    I’m not saying it was easy. I’m not saying I was a perfect parent. I’m not saying I didn’t have or need a lot of help. I’m not saying my kids haven’t felt negative effects from my choices. But the parent-child relationship is one of the most important relationships that most of us have, for good or bad. Trivializing this, making it a burden, shaming teen parents for their children, who they love and provide for, is bad policy, and it does nothing to deter teen pregnancy other than strengthen stigma against teen parents and their kids.

    • EG
      March 15, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      I’m not saying it was easy. I’m not saying I was a perfect parent. I’m not saying I didn’t have or need a lot of help. I’m not saying my kids haven’t felt negative effects from my choices. But the parent-child relationship is one of the most important relationships that most of us have, for good or bad.

      And honestly, isn’t this true for any mother or involved father, no matter when she/he becomes a parent? (Not to belittle the difficulties you face(d), just to point out that teen parenting and post-teen parenting have similar issues as well as differing ones, and there’s no need to condemn one wholesale while valorizing the other.)

  15. Athenia
    March 15, 2013 at 10:16 am

    I really hate this campaign, but I also wonder if it’s a misguided attempt to combat the “culture of poverty” mentality. I remember one social worker commenter saying that it’s extremely difficult to convince young women that no, having the kid will not improve your relationship with the father. In another book I read, the grandparents tried to convince a young man that no, having a kid when you don’t have a job isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

    • March 15, 2013 at 10:25 am

      the “culture of poverty” mentality

      Yes, it’s TOTALLY just poor people that have ridiculous ideas that babies are band-aids on relationships. It’s not like every romance novel and rom-com movie and TV show and religious leader and woman’s magazine is spouting the same fucking notion or anything. Nope, nope.

      • March 15, 2013 at 10:26 am

        *are spouting.

      • Athenia
        March 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm

        Oh I totally agree with you on that point!

      • March 15, 2013 at 5:09 pm

        I didn’t think you didn’t, Athenia, just propping up your point! (Just realised on reading your reply that that came off as ranting at you, wehn I intended nothing of the sort. Sorry.)

  16. offfwhite
    March 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    The thing that irritates me most about this campaign is how totally unnecessary it is. I work in unintended adolescent pregnancy prevention in NYC, and our research shows that 85-90% of teen pregnancies are unintended. The vast majority of teens already do not want to become parents. We don’t need to convince them not to get pregnant, we need to enable them to act in accordance with their wishes through comprehensive sex ed, access to contraception and the full range of clinical sexual health services, and supporting them in their understanding of pregnancy as something that they actually have some control over.

    • Donna L
      March 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      Thank you. God forbid there should be ad campaigns about contraception. God forbid that sex education encompassing contraception should actually be taught consistently in schools, and that all the other things you mention should be promoted. That would be too easy, I guess.

      • offfwhite
        March 15, 2013 at 1:51 pm

        I think it’s also telling that all of the criticism is coming from people who do teen pregnancy prevention, social justice and repro rights work…. in short, people who have a pretty sophisticated understanding of teen pregnancy’s causes, and evidence-based strategies to reduce its rates. It’s like HRA consulted no one in the field before releasing this turd of a campaign.

      • micronote
        March 16, 2013 at 8:58 am

        Contraception is widely and freely available in newyork

      • EG
        March 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm

        Both Donna and I live in NYC, thanks. And I am of the opinion that you are wildly overestimating the ease with which people, particularly minors, can obtain any kind of contraception besides condoms.

      • offfwhite
        March 18, 2013 at 9:24 am

        Seconded. A key focus of the program I work on is to increase access to contraception. “Available” and “accessible” are 2 totally different things.

    • Rob in CT
      March 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Really? Huh. Do you have any handy links to the research you’re talking about?

      The reason I ask is that growing up I had a pretty standard liberal view that the problem was basically a lack of proper sex ed and access to condoms.

      But more recently, I’ve been reading a bunch of stories arguing that no, it’s really about lack of opportunities leading people to have children intentionally (not that these stories provided statistical backup, which perhaps should’ve been a clue for me). And that makes some sense to me, because honestly it just plain amazes me that so many people can unintentionally become pregnant in a place like New York (not exactly a religious fundamentalist place).

      85-90% unintended is therefore higher than I’d have figured. If that’s so, then the old hand out condoms plan seems to make plenty of sense.

      • Rob in CT
        March 15, 2013 at 3:40 pm

        To follow up on this, I did some googling and found the following from the CDC:

        The CDC is claiming just shy of 2/3 of teen births are the result of unintended pregnancies. I do notice they’re saying births, not pregnancies. Perhaps ~85% of pregnancies are unintended but a bunch are aborted/miscarried and so ~65% of births are the result of unintended pregnancy…

        Heck, even if ~65% of pregnancies were unintended, that still means there’s a lot of room for the “better sex ed and access to contracteption” route to help.

        The CDC report has a nice chart showing the multi-decade decline in teen pregancies (with a small uptick in the last year of data they use – 2006), which in itself should indicate something is working.

      • offfwhite
        March 15, 2013 at 4:03 pm
      • offfwhite
        March 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm

        As for how this was calculated:

        The percent of pregnancies that are unintended (UI) is calculated as follows:
        [(% of births from UI pregnancies x # births) + (% of spontaneous abortions from UI pregnancies x # spontaneous abortions) + # induced abortions] / total pregnancies.

        The percent of births that are unintended is derived from the 2006-2008 NYC Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), a survey of new mothers. The percent of spontaneous abortions that are unintended is from Guttmacher Institute analyses of the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth.

        (Sorry for the double post… clicked Post Comment a bit prematurely)

      • Rob in CT
        March 18, 2013 at 10:49 am

        I just wanted to (belatedly) say thanks for this. It looks much more extensive than the CDC factsheet I googled up.

  17. pheenobarbidoll
    March 15, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Soooo, I had my daughter at 20 but I was pregnant at 19…does she love or hate me?

    • Emolee
      March 15, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      Were you straight-married to a white Christian republican man? If not, good chance she probably hates you. /sarcasm

    • Past my expiration date
      March 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      She hates you — you should have been at least 21 when she was born. Plus have graduated from high school, had a full-time job, and been married. “Simple rules”, according to the guy in the newspaper.

    • March 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      I’m pretty sure my oldest kid was conceived on my 20th birthday so she loves me, but just barely.

      • Bagelsan
        March 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm

        Well, she didn’t implant until a few days after fertilization, so you might be safe! ;)

    • pheenobarbidoll
      March 15, 2013 at 10:51 pm

      He was straight…and a man. But no marriage…though I DID graduate high school and had been out at least a year by the time I got pregnant.

      I had a full time job and went to college full time.

      I feel like I’m playing she loves me, she loves me not

  18. March 17, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Are the posters saying truthful things or not?

    • EG
      March 17, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Have you read the comments?

    • offfwhite
      March 18, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Not really. Here’s a great takedown of the campaign with the actual research findings cited.

  19. Sarah
    March 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    This turns my stomach and I want to do something. What can I do to stop this? Advice on places/ways to show support for teen mothers also appreciated.

  20. March 19, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    I’m reminded of an expression that a grade school teacher of mine used to say: “When you point your finger at someone else you have four fingers pointing back at you.”

    A statistic like “If you finish high school, get a job, and get married before having children, you have a 98% chance of not being in poverty,” says far more about how our society respects choice than it does about the teen mothers it is pointing the finger at.

  21. March 19, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    “Got a good job? I cost thousands of dollars each year.”

    In other words, every teen mother can’t just make $250,000 a year advocating against teen pregnancy like Bristol Palin…

Comments are closed.