Planning a baby at 17?

posted in: Advice | 0

Initial question I received via our Tumblr site – I suspect from an overseas reader. Have posted my reply to her below, and some extra thoughts after.

 

Question: I am 17 and my partner is 21, we want to try for a baby sometime soon. He has a well paying full time job and a place of our own. I think we would be wonderful parents! Thoughts?

Answer:
You’re not going to like it 🙂   While I don’t doubt you’d be great parents, I’m more concerned about the future and stability of your relationship. Of course its it’s possible it can last. But what if it doesn’t? Many relationships don’t survive the strain of a baby. Are you willing and able to manage completely by yourself if he’s no longer there? It’s one thing to get pregnant by accident and then start tackling the issues.

Its another to do it on purpose when you have the opportunity to stop and take a breath, and consider all the angles first. There’s no harm in giving your relationship time first. Not because I don’t think you’d be a good mom.  But because I think that considering the ugly possibility that your relationship could end, would be the mature thing to do. Have a look at this article for some more things to consider: Are you ready to be a mother?

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Some more thoughts:

It might seem funny to say I’d worry less about a teen with an unplanned pregnancy, than I would about one who planned everything down to the last.  Hear me out.
We all do stupid things sometimes. Unprotected sex being one of them. When an unplanned pregnancy happens – it’s often a huge wake up call to all involved. A chance to make some hard choices about their lives, and look at their future, and themselves – entirely differently. It’s a turning point for many, and regardless of what’s gone before, they’re now having to make the decision to do it properly, or not at all. Things get real, very quickly.  Whether their relationship, financial, school or family situations are ideal or not – they are forced to deal with it.  If you’d been thinking of how complicated things would be, you wouldn’t be here in the first place, right? You WEREN’T thinking about it, and so here we are. Moving forward. You’re not dealing with the “what-if’s”- you’re dealing with “what is”.

Parenting at any age is tough. Parenting young is more complicated.

What worries me about this particular reader’s situation is the following:

She believes she’d be a good mother (we have zero way of knowing if that’s true or not – let’s assume it is) – and yet she’s looking to me for approval, wanting me to say go ahead, it will all be fine. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. In the end, it will be what she makes it. But only if she’s considering all the realities. It feels like she isn’t. Of course I could be wrong. But I’ve seen many new parents (not just teen ones!) – going into it believing things will be a certain way, and being totally unprepared for what’s real.

She hasn’t mentioned her plan for what she’ll do if the boyfriend disappears. It happens. A lot. Every pregnant woman, regardless of age, should be thinking what she’d do if the father was not around for any reason.

If you’re basing your preparedness for parenthood on the fact that you have a partner – you’re making a mistake.

Am I willing to do this alone? 

Maybe you won’t have to. But you’ll know that if you need to, you can. That’s what a child needs: a parent who’s considered all the possibilities and is willing to deal with anything.

 

 

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