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May 27, 2005

A tragedy?

Today in The Guardian, Madeleine Bunting puts forth the argument that teenage pregnancy is not such a tragedy after all. That there is no diminished potential because these mothers would have had low aspirations, baby or not. Appallingly, she asks, “Why is it that in Labour’s crusade against teenage pregnancy, it can’t recognise that some of these teen mums are making reasonable – even moral – decisions about what they value in life, and what they want to do with their lives? How did opting for baby and motherhood over shelf-stacking ever become a tragedy?”. I will attempt to answer her. Because giving up on someone’s potential based on statistics is the ultimate let-down. That teenagers are not the most reasonable people in the world. What kind of a mother can a thirteen year old be? Because it’s fueling a vicious cycle that we should not condone as what kind of life is this baby going to have? That there are young mothers who beat the odds and become successful, but most people don’t. That stacking shelves is an honest income and there is pride that comes with that (and further opportunities) that doesn’t come with living off the government for the rest of your life. Teenage motherhood is romanticised in the media, and there are little girls who crave it to fill the countless holes in their meagre existences. There must be other ways to make them whole that come with much less compromise.

2 thoughts on “A tragedy?”

  1. Mike says:

    Having lived as a young lad with a single mum for several years, supported by the welfare state, I can tell you that if you want a life of poverty, vastly diminished opportunity, and cleaning up poo 6 times a day, you could not do better than to have a kid when you’re aged 13.

    My question for the Guardian author – who in the hell will be looking after your child while you’re triumphantly “stacking shelves?” The 14-year-old dad? Fat chance. Responsible child-care professionals, currently asking about 150 quid a week for their services? Shelf stacking must be more lucrative than I could possibly imagine.

  2. Kerry says:

    I think her point was that teenage motherhood was a viable alternative to shelf-stacking, but I’m still not convinced.

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