It’s a question I get asked often. This and the questions below have all been said to me by real people, sometimes people I’d considered friends.
I get that you love him, but I’m sure you wish he wasn’t born, hey?
You’re not like “those other” teen moms. You’re the exception.
It’s good that you’ve made the best of a bad situation.
I’m sure you think you’re happy, but you could have been so much more.
At your age, you should be *insert-debauched-activity-here*
I’m sure you wouldn’t want your daughter to be a teen mom, would you?
Let’s address the last one. It’s fitting, as today is my daughter Layla’s 12th birthday. That’s her there – she’s awesome. Would I want her to be a teen mom?
This is (once again) not the right question.
I know what I want for my children: it’s very simple: to be happy, and to be good. That’s it. Nothing more – no other expectations. I don’t want them to pursue a particular career, have a particular sexual orientation, choose a particular religion, have children/not have children/, marry or not marry.
I want them to be happy and good.
It’s my job to show them ways to be good (by example, mostly) – and give them opportunities to find their happiness. But what that happiness looks like to them is not my decision. Not my business. They must find their way themselves.
As a mommy, I also (unrealistically) want my children to never struggle. I want their lives to be smooth sailing. I don’t want them to be hurt. I don’t want them to cry. I want things to be easy for them.
This, of course, is impossible. We ALL struggle, we all cry, we all hurt. If I’ve done my job, they will find a way to turn those challenges and struggles into more goodness, and more happiness. To be resilient – take responsibility for their choices, learn and grow.
Back to the question.
If my daughter becomes pregnant as a teen, we would handle it the way we’d handle any challenge: support her while she makes her choices, support her whatever choice she makes, and stand by her as she steps up and takes charge of her life.
It would be the same if my child contracted HIV, lost a leg, failed a grade at school, had their heart broken… whatever challenge comes along, we will handle it together, because that’s what families do.
Everything we do has consequences. Teen pregnancy has life-changing consequences. It’s my job to make sure my children are aware of those consequences, how to avoid them or avoid putting themselves in the situation where they could happen.
It’s also my job to make sure they understand that nothing is impossible to overcome. Nothing is insurmountable. Nothing can ruin you, unless you let it. Resilience, responsibility and strength. That’s part of the goodness I want to grow in them.
So if you’re still asking me if I want my daughter to be a teen mom: the answer is: it doesn’t matter. Whatever she does, whatever hurdles she faces – whether of her own making or not – all I want is for her to stand up, take charge, be good, and be happy.
No other answer will do.