Friday, July 30, 2010
Anyway, as I was preparing the unit on teen pregnancy and parenthood, I was surfing the internet for supplemental readings and web resources to augment the textbook. Initially, I looked at lots of research-based fact sheets, policy statements, etc. These were materials that didn't present pregnant teens and teen parents as humans, but rather as data.
As I continued my online search for materials and resources, I started coming across sites that had nothing to do with data and everything to do with helping and supporting pregnant teens and teen moms. These sites really impressed upon me the human aspect of teen pregnancy and parenthood. I was especially moved by the fact that MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) sponsors a group called Teen MOPS. My wife has been involved with our local MOPS group, and until today, I had never heard of Teen MOPS.
Most of the sites I looked at were designed to provide teens with tips and information about resources, services, and parent education. I looked through plenty of those sites and linked them to my class. Besides those sorts of sites, however, I also came across numerous online message boards for pregnant teens and teen moms. These are sites where teen moms and teens who are pregnant can post questions, provide support and information to each other, and receive encouragement, support, information from older women.
Then the unexpected happened. The dad in me came out, and I actually started crying in my office. As I was reading their questions and comments to one another, it dawned on me with crystal clarity, "These aren't bad people who've committed crimes or unpardonable sins who deserve to be looked down upon, shunned, and treated badly. They're scared girls."
As the title of this post says, it was a real eye opening experience for me. I don't think I'll ever view teen pregnancy or teen parenthood the same way again. I still think that where teen pregnancy is concerned, prevention should be our first goal. However, once they're pregnant or have had children, that can't be changed, and at that point it becomes incumbent upon us to provide them with the acceptance, support, and help they need to be good parents and provide good lives for their children."