Teen Pregnancy: Suddenly Cool?

I’ve noticed a rather disturbing trend in the past year in parenting groups I’m a part of, IRL and online, namely teen pregnancy as being a “cool” thing to do. Now, I admit this is an incredibly biased sample- teen moms involved in parenting communities are likely to claim they are doing something “cool” even if their peers disagree.

Nonetheless, I keep stumbling on more and more pro-teen parenting communities, and a large proportion of the teen ladies in the groups I’m involved in claim to have purposely planned their pregnancies.

This is very much the opposite of how my peers and I thought of teen parenting when I was in high school (early 90s).

So, now I’m wondering if:
a) the teen pregnancy rates are suddenly back on the rise*


b) if the teen ladies getting pregnant now are a “new breed”- ie not the general stereotype we think of involving breaking condom/ ignorant about family planning/ unable to get contraception, but rather consisting largely of teens getting pregnant by choice because it’s cool, hip, exciting, whatever. So thus, the numbers might not change, but the causation might, which might have significant implications in regards to education, culture, etc.

Anyone else notice the “teen pregnancy is cool” trend recently?
*Stats I’ve seen show decrease from 91-02, but I haven’t seen anything more recent. Of course, it’s 1 am, and I didn’t look exceptionally hard.

Eh, nope. The only teen pregnancy I know of was a complete accident, and even people that are marrying ridiculously young (as far as I’m concerned) are holding off on kids.

It’s still seen as a waste of youth on this side of the pond!

Have you heard Fantasia Barrino’s hit single “Baby Mama”? :frowning:

If it’s happening, it’s probably in response to all the “abstinence only” sex ed and interference with easy access to birth control merchandise and abortion services.

People get tired of being pointed at and rebel and say “Yeah, so?”

I have to agree. Not only does teen pregnancy seem cool, but single mom-hood now seems like something to aspire to rather than avoid! At my SO’s office, there are three single moms and four other girls who keep talking about how they want to have a baby, how they’re going to go and get pregnant from the first guy they meet and leave him and just rip him for child support. :mad: :frowning: And just check out any of the teen pregnancy boards.

Again, a skewed example, but still.

On the one hand, the statistics I’ve seen say that teen pregnancy, and even abortions, are going down by a few percentage points. On the other hand, I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about how girls who don’t see a lot of future for themselves (education/career/decent husband/etc.) are more likely to think that having a baby will make them happy and give them a purpose.

So I dunno. I think poverty levels, surrounding culture, and so on will have a large effect, so a lot of it will be geographical or within certain populations. That’s for girls getting pregnant on purpose, of course, not for ‘oops, what am I gonna do now?’ pregnancies.

Anecdotal: Anaamika’s story is quite foreign to me. Most of the teenage girls I know are focused on school, sports, music, and so on, and not planning to have children for years yet. I don’t know any pregnant teens at the moment (I’m sure there are plenty in town, I just don’t know them). I do know a few girls who have married quite young, at 18 or 19, :eek: and some of them have had children within a couple of years, but they were basically just getting started young, not becoming single moms on purpose or thinking that teen motherhood was hip.

I think the UK has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe and from statistics it seems that a lot of the kids having kids are the ‘underclass’ who live in ‘sink estates’* ie from areas of high unemployment where familes may have no one in full time work, in fact where for the past two or three generations no one has had a job and continuing onto 'higher education’is almost unheard of - staying in school after 16 is impressive. The theories are, in no order of preference

If you have a kid you are a higher priority for govt. funded housing

A kid will give you the un-conditional love your parents/ boyfriend etc. don’t

Your friends are doing it

A kid means you can claim more benefits

There’s already a generation of kids who grew up without a father figure/male presence in the family & so for them it’s the norm.

The rate of teenage alcohol abuse plays a role.

*these terms are in current use in British newspapers and govt. documents they are not just me being derogatory. Likewise the theories are those you would see in the Britsh media etc.

well, as a single formerly teen mama i don’t think it is so much an issue of being “cool” as it is that we are fighting to be accepted in society. not seen as “wasted youth” or “the proof of what is wrong with society today”.

i have known some young women that chose to be teen parents and while it isn’t something i necessarily did on purpose, if they care about their kids and can take care of things then who am i to judge?

i do thing abstinence-only sex ed isn’t completely blamefree in this either. my parents and the schools i went to said little more than, “just don’t do it” there was no talk of how to protect yourself if yo do end up doing it.

but yeah, it isn’t so much cool as it is a fact of life for me and many others. we just want to be respected as parents who care about our kids and want a better life for ourselves and them.

I have two teen step-daughters, and their 15-year-old cousin had a baby. The girls tell me that she lives with her boyfriend/fiancé, and they’re saving up to move to a bigger apartment. I thought, what is a 15-year-old doing, thinking about security deposits and first month’s rent? But to her friends, she seems so mature and responsible, although she dropped out of school with less than a ninth-grade education. I detect a little note of admiration and envy when her friends talk about her circumstances. She’s perceived as noble, brave, adult beyond her years. They think she has so much freedom and independence because she has a “family” and an apartment now; in reality, I suspect, she has far less freedom than her friends.

It’s disconcerting to see 15-year-olds throwing baby showers for each other. Many of them do seem to think it’s “cool.” My step-girls, fortunately, think it’s a valid choice for others, but not for them. The oldest already has plans to have her first baby after she finishes law school, and the younger told me she has no intention of ruining her figure by having babies. (For once, teen vanity serves a purpose!)

Whenever another of their friends gets pregnant, the girls often tell me, “Oh, it’s ok, this was planned.” As if that means it will be a cake walk. Oddly, they seem to think their baby brother that their Dad and I have was some sort of birth control slip-up, and acknowledged him with an “accidents will happen” sort of attitude. I guess it messes with their heads when their friends and their father are producing babies at the same time.

So I asked them if they see any negative attitudes or judgments against their pregnant friends. Nope. According to them, it’s considered quite acceptable and pretty cool to start your family at 15, or even younger. It means you know what you want, and you’re not afraid to go for it. My head spins.

Exactly what I’m seeing too. It’s like being able to drink or smoke was somehow cool and adult in my generation, and now being a parent somehow equals being a “real adult.” Plus it means that now you get to live with your boyfriend, and that’s sooooo sophisticated! And now they have a grown-up relationship, not some silly “high school” romance, and the baby means they will stay together 4-ever!

Right. :rolleyes:

It’s exceptionally creepy.

This sort of shift in perceptions of teen pregnancy by their peers suggests that we really need to start making sex ed a priority. And it isn’t about “how to use a condom” anymore. These kids not only know that, they are fairly aware of how to deliberately create a baby. What we need more of is sexual ethics,* reality about how involved having a kid is, and ways to feel/be more adult without using your genitals. We also have to somehow de-romanticize teen parenting.

The whole thing is just one giant mess.
*no, I don’t mean abstinence or any right-wing thing you might think this means. I mean considering the ramifications for you, your partner(s), etc before having sex and discussing what responsible sexuality is.

I think gruver is probably right. It’s not that teen pregnancy has become cool, it’s that pregnant teenagers now have the means to band together in support groups. I think that’s fine. Maybe it’ll help them, and if it doesn’t at least that’ll mean at least the dopes will all be in one place I guess.

I’m 18, and I have never, ever, ever heard teen pregnancy touted as some sort of cool thing. I certainly wouldn’t think of it as such- granted, I never plan on having children; however, even if I were I certainly would not plan on having one at this point.

Perhaps also teaching kids about what a healthy relationship is. …I see SO many girls having sex b/c they think that if they don’t, guys won’t like them…or kids who think that there’s a difference between getting a regular friend and a significent other. In order to have a healthy relationship, you should start out as friends and then evolve to best friends…too many kids I know think that there’s something called Insant Boyfriend/Girlfriend. I seem to recall from the Ms. magazine boards that a significent percentage of teen pregancies are fathered by guys in their TWENTIES! All I can say is UGH! I mean I did date an older guy when I was 19 and he was 29, but I was in college then! Yeah, I know age is just a number, but people in their teens aren’t as sophiscated in relationship skills as someone who’s in their twenties…I remember back then I thought I knew it all, but I look back and I was such a DORK!
Oh, and my mom’s a MCH nurse, and she says that a lot of the teens she sees in teen clinic, think that if they get pregnant, it’s a great way to salvage a relationship…

I can’t stand Fantasia’s song (referencing an earlier post). Maybe she’s talking strictly about twentysomethings having to endure childraising on their own after their boyfriends split (which is what happened to me when I was 22), but around here, it comes off as encouragement for anyone with a uterus and a mild curiosity about sex to try her hand at parenting. some of the lyrics (for those who may not be familiar with the song) are:

“nowadays it’s like a badge of honor…to be a baby mama”

I once offered to take my stepdaughter shopping for summer clothes near where my grandmother lives in Texas. She actually had to mull it over! She wasn’t sure if she wanted to go shopping (where I would pay for everything) or stay in town and attend a baby shower for a fourteen year old girl. That was the greatest indicator of “where her head at” I have ever seen…

Our teen parent classes are just as full as they ever were. From what I’ve heard, a good deal of them get pregnant by accident, if you consider being too embarrassed to get condoms and/or insist that they be used an accident. They just keep their fingers crossed.

There’s also a lot of bad info out there, the newest are that you can’t get pregnant if the guy sits in a hot tub for a while, or the boy masturbates earlier in the day.

This is an impoverished area, just about the poorest in Calif. Job opportunities are few and the pay is lousy. Girls are fairly certain they’re going to be stay at home moms, like their own moms (who support the kids in getting married and settling down). Going to college is actually discouraged by many parents. The attitude is that it was going to happen eventually, so it’s not the end of the world that it happened a little early. For a small minority the lure of extra money for having a baby is a consideration.

The pregnant minors I’ve known are accepted by their peers, to their face. Behind their backs most students think the kids are idiots for getting pregnant. They’ve seen others in the same situation and know it would be the end of any fun they would have. They also know that a lot of their friends would start drifting away, once the novelty wears off.

Still, there are enough girls who think getting pregnant is a not so bad consequence of expressing their undying loooove. It’s not helped that the parents step in and raise the kids while the girl goes to school. Heck, a lot of parents are raising their grandchildren permanently. All this gives the false impression that parenting isn’t all that difficult, for girls who want to believe. They know it wasn’t fun or easy for others, but it will be different for them.

This isn’t true in all cases of course, but I’d say it fits most. Still, just about every situation described in this thread sounds awfully familiar. I’ve even heard from a collegue at another school in an affluent area that there were a whole bunch of the best and the brightest getting pregnant and raising a child because it was a sign of just how much better and brighter they were. A way of saying that they were so smart and together they could not only handle highschool, they could do it while parenting. What the human mind can come up with is amazing.

Speaking as a 19 year old-

Teen pregnancy is not, nor has it ever been, widely accepted as “cool”. There are certain groups I can think of in high school where the girls wanted to get pregnant and all that, but those girls had all kinds of issues.

I would venture to say that teen pregnancy is just more widely accepted then it was before. In my parents’ generation, a pregnant teen would get shipped off and shunned. Now it isn’t quite that big of a deal.

That said, I’d still punch one of my friends if they actively tried to get pregnant right now (or had during high school).

I don’t think it’s anything new-I remember when everyone and their grandmother had a talkshow, and one frequent topic was “I wanna be a Teen Mom!” A bunch of teenagers talking about how they couldn’t wait to have babies, it was gonna be so cool, everything would be wonderful, blah blah. Some of them were as young as 13.

I wonder if it’s a regional thing? Or an online thing? Perhaps the teens involved in this stuff tend to be more vocal and obvious online where they have communities, rather than IRL, where they may well be outliers.

I think it’s an age thing. Notice how anyone who is concerned in this thread is older, with younger relatives/friends who know someone who got pregnant and think it’s cool? Classic friend of a friend stories.

All the contributors to the thread that are actually near the same age as teenage mothers either don’t know any or only know of one or two that made mistakes and aren’t envied by anyone.

Quite frankly I think this is another razorblades-in-candy in the making.

My concerns stem from actual young women I have encountered IRL and online in pregnancy and parenting groups. Anaamika’s & Miss Gypsy’s also involve women they know IRL. So while there is clearly huge variation among the teen set, this type of thinking/behavior certainly is in existence enough to have several witnesses in this thread.