Saturday, April 15, 2006

Subculture

Two days ago I sent home a baby born at 26 weeks gestation whose birthweight was small even for a 26 weeker. The baby looked great when she went home. She had had no bleeding into her brain, her muscle tone and activity were good, and she looked like she might be one off those extremely premature babies who turns out fine.

Mom was nearly ecstatic. She was the type of woman that every obstetrician and neonatologist has seen, a woman who just can't seem to have full term children. Her first pregnancy ended with a miscarriage. Her second pregnancy ended with a stillbirth at 28 weeks gestation, and now this pregnancy ended at 26 weeks with a tiny baby who didn't grow very well inside her. I remember her speaking to me about this, about her discouragement and fear that she would never be able to have a baby. I sympathized with her frustration; fortunately, having normal babies was never a problem for me, but I can imagine the heartache that it must be, since the ability to have and raise children is such an integral part of our being. As I mentioned, we see women like this fairly often, women who have the burden of either difficulty conceiving or difficulty carrying a child to a viable gestation.

There was one thing different about this mother of the 26 weeker, though, something that made it a little harder for me to drum up the usual sympathy. She was 20 years old and single.

When she spoke to me about her problems with pregnancies, it once again pointed out to me how different the subculture she lived in was from mine. Worrying about carrying pregnancies at age 20? A 20 year old single woman has no business getting pregnant, not even once, let alone three times by that age. Once again, my compassion was mixed with a good dose of frustration. We humans can be so similar, yet so far apart.

29 Comments:

Blogger Tara's World said...

Doc - If I may? Sometimes we dont know about the background of the mother. Maybe she wasnt nurtured as a child or given the love a child should be given. I grew up as an only child of parents who couldnt put aside their own intrest to guide me. My parents would go off on vacation for 2 weeks at a time and leave me alone by the time I was 14. I know the loneliness and having so much love to give that you want someone to love and who loves you. No I didnt become pregnant, nor try to that young, but I can understand where some girls do.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

200 years ago a 20 year old might be a woman in her prime in society with several children, one already apprenticed or in some way helping to sustain the family. In the third world, 20 years is a third of a life span and a critical window within which to have children before acquiring disease. In the Applachias? I've seen 20 years olds with 7 living children. Modern society has prolonged human adolescence (with the most recent intervention being the drinking age). I'm not saying that's a bad thing, I'm just saying that we're not all equally niched or invested in this relatively recent form of non-darwinian evolution and that perhaps a bit of mediation is in order when NeoDoc encounters someone who is less invested than he is in modern society.

Having said that, I do hope my own daughters will be of an age that affords them some advantages if and when they choose to have their first child. I also feel for these young families such as the one NeoDoc describes because it undeniably stunts their collective potential for success in our society.

I feel like I just polished opposite sides of the coin.

cherubsinthelandoflucifer.com

11:20 AM  
Blogger neon88 said...

There are often "reasons" why a 20 y.o. woman may have 3 kids and it is true that in other times and other societies it may be the right thing. Too often, in our society, it is not. It is not an unusual occurance when I am the only male in the delivery room surrounded by 3 or 4 generations of women or the only other males are in diapers. So often these mothers are ill prepared to care for their own needs much less an infants. In other times and other societies the "village" may have helped in the nurturing of its youngest members. Now it seems that these mothers and often their children are on their own.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Flea said...

Just curious: Did you get a sense of what this woman feels like being single with a former premie?

I suppose my feelings about her would depend on a couple of things: is she grateful for the care she gets from you and your staff? Does she feel she did something wrong by having a baby out of wedlock at a young age?

Or does she feel entitled to the care she gets? Does she feel like life owes her something?

I've had both types of mom. I daresay I have great difficulty not letting the counter-transference show at times.

best,

Flea

8:29 PM  
Blogger La Lubu said...

Does she feel she did something wrong by having a baby out of wedlock at a young age?

Why should age have anything to do with it? After all, there's plenty of unrepentant old sluts like me around, having the audacity to have children "out of wedlock" without even *gasp!* apologizing for our gross affront to society.

(apparently, I have that same counter-transference problem going one there, doc....)

Two things: first, I can't help but think that if this young woman had been married, this post or its comments wouldn't exist. There would be an automatic middle-class assumption that because of the "wedlock", everything must be either just-fine or well on its way to being just fine. That assumption is driving public policy in the form of "marriage initiatives" that could make a bad situation worse. No, I wasn't a 20-year old mother, but I was 19-year old wife in what feels like a previous life....lemme tellya, children can be expensive, but nothing is more expensive than supporting a deadbeat, layabout spouse (ahem). Marriage initiatives? Nahh, these young women need bachelor's degrees instead.

Second, so many young women are raised in a "without a man, you're nothing" environment. Which feeds back into the problem I mentioned before---demonizing their single-mother status drives them into a find-a-man-quick frenzy, with the result that they have a slim chance of meeting a decent guy, and a right-on chance of meeting Mr. Wrong. I've seen this dynamic in my own family (with women who were teenage mothers).

Being a single mother in my thirties helps to insulate me from some of this crap, but not all of it. I saw plenty of those young mothers when my daughter was in the NICU too, and I couldn't help but think, "there but for the grace of God go I". I wondered how many of them had lives that mirrored my own, way back when. And I hoped like hell that the answer was "none of 'em".

4:57 PM  
Blogger neon88 said...

In response to la luba..
Greater than 60% of the births in my hospital are to unmarried couples so it seems that the stigma attached to the unwed mother long ago became a thing of the past. It's not so simple. We have the same father visiting two of his kids in the NICU from two different mothers at the same time. We have fights when the father brings his new girlfried to see the baby. We have an 18 year old girl with 3 babies from 3 different men. Sometimes it seems you couldn't screw up a kid better if you tried. I wish it were so simple.

6:18 PM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

Whoa. I don't know where to begin! Neon 88, your final comments are so true. I've seen much of the same. It can get very sad.
Laluba, setting aside any moral considerations, this baby is at a disadvantage because she doesn't have a father around and because her mother isn't going to be able to get a decent job because she won't get a good education because she had a baby when she is too young....and, doggone it, considering moral things, I think it is wrong for a 20 year old single woman to have had three pregnancies.
Tara: I am so sorry. This mother's mother was very supportive of the mother. They are living together, baby, mother, and grandmother...a not uncommon arrangement.
Cherubs...great comment. I'll try to remember that phrase "someone who is less invested ...in modern society" the next time I'm frustrated by this situation.
Flea, this mother seemed to have no problems with being a single mother. In her subculture, marriage and having children are not related.

9:23 PM  
Blogger La Lubu said...

Whoa indeed! This young woman did what many older mothers would have done---her first was a miscarriage, so she tried again. Her second was a stillborn, so she tried again. Third time was a "charm". Somehow, I don't think she's going to be in any great big hurry to continue right away; having a preemie will do that do you. I'm an only child who always wanted to have three or four myself, but my preemie experience definitely gave me pause for the cause.

From this post, and the comments, I'm getting the impression that many of you are thinking this mother is quite different---radically different even---than yourselves. I'm saying that she isn't. I don't forecast doom and gloom for her. I assume that she'll get that education and that good job---she'll just do so a little later than some people did. Most women in her position do. Considering the support you mention from her mother, I think there's every reason to think this young woman---and her child---is going to do fine.

Here's why the "not having a father around" trope rubs me the wrong way---how this gets interpreted in real life---not theory, but feet-on-the-ground real life: Mama realizes that Dude was a mistake. That he's never going to cowboy up and do his part, and that she's better off without him. So....she dumps him, and starts preparing for a life on her own.

But wait! From various influences in her life, she's hearing a different message from the one she knows in her bones. From her family, to friends, to the neighborhood, to church, to school, to co-workers, in newspapers, magazines, television, novels, films---not to mention politicians, pundits and busybodies of all stripes all make the push---from the subtle to not-so-subtle, that her child simply can't be without a father. That she should either pull out all the stops and through her hard work and the force of her character "make a man" out of her child's father, or, she should set off in search of a replacement.

I have seen this dynamic played out all my life. In fact, I've lived this dynamic in my younger years, though thankfully I didn't have a child at the time. It's not just in pocketed "subcultures" that women are sent the message that men are their responsibility, y'know?

It took me a long time to find my voice---mostly because I grew up in a dysfunctional alcoholic family with all the trimmings. One of the hardest lessons for me to learn was to judge others by their actions, not their words. And that can be difficult for those of us who've grown up hearing "I love you" coupled with the most unloving behavior possible.

So, knowing the usual result of the "but....your baby won't have a father!" lectures, I make it my job to offer plenty of moral support to fellow single mothers and tell them "you don't need him. You don't need a man. You're strong enough to do this on your own."---because this is not a message that those of us in this extremely populated "subculture" hear often enough.

Look. I think young women are better off not having babies until after they get out of college, too. It's easier. But for crying out loud, she already has a child. So, let's do our utmost to make the path she needs to take that much easier now, instead of that much harder.

And yeah---the age. Look, my daughter's father used to sit at the kitchen table and pay his bills just like evrybody else. Then he decided to fall down the slippery slope of substance abuse. And having lived through that once, (with my former husband), I cut the cord immediately. And no one questioned that. And I can't help but feel that my age played a part in that, because in my younger years I was repeatedly admonished that "just leaving" was a cop-out, the "easy way out"---whatever. Let's give young mothers the same benefit of the doubt we do for the older mothers. If she isn't married to the father, or isn't with him period, let's just assume there's a damn good reason for that, hokay?

8:31 AM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

La luba: Thanks for the comments. I appreciate your perspective. It's such a big subject, maybe I'll address it in an upcoming post instead of this comments section.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a 19 year old mom left to raise the child alone by a father who left. My life didn't end there. I went back to school, paid horrendous student loans and raised my daughter very well alone.

The biggest barrier is sometimes the stigma that "single parenting ends your potential."

1:13 PM  
Blogger Amy Tuteur, MD said...

The concern for the mother and any stigma she may feel is out of place. I cannot count the number of babies I was forced to send home with young women who were completely unprepared to care for them and the horrible consequences that resulted. Head on over to any "failure to thrive" clinic at a major medical center and you will find babies who are malnourished because their teenage mothers tried to feed them sandwiches instead of formula. You will find babies who are left for hours in their own filth because their teen mothers have no concept that babies require round the clock care. You will find babies who are developmentally delayed because no one talks to them or reads to them; they just sit in babyseats in front of the TV all day.

We are in the midst of an epidemic of child abuse and neglect and most of it is at the hands of people who should not be having children, teen mothers, substance abusing mothers, and mothers who have no concept of how to provide for a child.

Arguments about other times and cultures are meaningless. Prehistoric women or tribal women who have babies in their teens are undertaking a socially supported responsibility and others will help them meet it. In contrast, women like this, who deliberately have children despite having no way to support them are immature and self absorbed. Their children suffer bitterly.

Sure you may know of an anecdote here and there about a teen mother who did well, but the statistics overwhelming support the view that teenagers should not have children under any circumstances.

Too many people are concerned about the mother's experience and not enough people are concerned about the baby's experience. It seems to me that Neonatal Doc was merely musing about the obvious. Sending a 26 week premie home with a 20 year old mother who has no means of support is a disaster waiting to happen.

8:27 PM  
Blogger La Lubu said...

The concern for the mother and any stigma she may feel is out of place.

Compassion and understanding are out of place? A helping hand and moral support are out of place? And you went into medicine...why, exactly?

First off, this young woman is twenty years old, not a teenager. Even so, for every teen mother who mistreats or neglects her child, there's one in her thirties doing the same. I am concerned about the baby's experience. Condemning young mothers based on judgemental stereotypes, rather than the actions of that individual mother is doing that baby a disservice. Children do grow up, and it does have an effect on a child, growing up and seeing her mother treated like shit by "important people". And this, coming from someone who named her blog, "treat me with respect"?!

Look, chances are pretty damn good that this young woman had her child under the same circumstances that her mother had her. And that's true for just about all of us---we end up with lives remarkably like that of our parents. Funny how that works, no?

Please....tell me that you refuse to treat patients who aren't married and middle class. Please tell me that you are up front with potential patients about your biases. Seriously. Attitudes like the one you are displaying are a barrier for working class and poor women to seek health care---even when we have insurance. Running yet another gauntlet of being assumed to be stupid/trashy/immoral/you-name-it on top of all the other "life's little battles" is just too much.

Putting qualifiers like "teen" or "drug-using" or "no means of support" doesn't fool me a bit. I wish every reader here could have been a fly on the wall when I dealt with various physicians about my preemie daughter's health. The fact that I could articulate clearly both her history and my concerns meant nothing. The fact that I had a job and provided for her and myself meant nothing. The fact that no mother in human history has ever loved a child as much as I love mine---and that it showed---that didn't count for shit, either. The fact that I was working class and single trumped it all. Those factors revealed my status for what it really was, in the eyes of Those That Matter---dirt. As a survival tactic, I became a master at finding "insider" advocates. People who would be believed, since the word of a mother---the wrong kind, anyway---isn't good enough. Bah. I'm glad that's behind me.

But the bad taste those experiences left behind? Still there.

10:56 PM  
Blogger Amy Tuteur, MD said...

"First off, this young woman is twenty years old, not a teenager. Even so, for every teen mother who mistreats or neglects her child, there's one in her thirties doing the same. I am concerned about the baby's experience."

No! That is precisely my point. There are many more teen mothers, unmarried mothers, and mothers without visible means of support who mistreat or neglect their children.

From the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse:

" In 2002, one or both parents were involved in 79 percent of child abuse or neglect fatalities...

...Frequently the perpetrator is a young adult in his or her mid-20s without a high school diploma, living at or below the poverty level, depressed, and who may have difficulty coping with stressful situations."

From a study of infant abuse and maltreatment in Florida:

"five risk factors that were most significantly related to infant maltreatment. Infants were more likely to be maltreated if: 1) their mother smoking during pregnancy; 2) they had two or more siblings; 3) their mother was a Medicaid beneficiary; 4) their mother was unmarried; or 5) they were afflicted by low birth weight. Infants with four or more of these risk factors had 7.4 times the rate of maltreatment than the general infant population in Florida."

In other words, the particular baby Neonatal Doc is writing about has a chance of being abused that is 600% higher than the average baby.

There are thousands of similar studies including studies that show that the risk of being killed by a teen mother is almost 10 times higher than the risk of being killed by an older mother.

"Compassion and understanding are out of place? A helping hand and moral support are out of place? And you went into medicine...why, exactly?"

That's not what I said. What I said was concern for the mother and any stigma she might feel is out of place when one considers the risk the baby is facing.

I'm sorry but I don't feel particularly compassionate for selfish, self absorbed, immature children who have poor impulse control and cannot wait until they actually have the means to nurture a child (emotional, educational and financial) before they have one.

I am an obstetrician and I went into medicine to take care of women and infants. Frankly, I am sick and tired of handing over babies I cared for to girls and women who starve those babies, and hit them and burn them with cigarettes and throw them against the wall.

I am a mother of four children, and I know from many years of experience how much emotional strength, self control and selflessness it takes to raise them. I am sick and tired of hearing that babies that I delivered show up in the ER with multiple broken bones, get shoved into boiling water or get gonorrhea at the age of 5.

With all due respect, I don't think you have any idea of the living hell that awaits many of these children of teen mothers. I do and so does Neonatal Doc. Maybe I'm being naive, but I'd to believe that if you had seen the horrific existence that awaits some of these children you, too, would transfer your concern for the stigma faced by their mothers to pity and concern for their tiny victims.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous 2luvnsg said...

Neonatal Doc- Please don't give up hope. I would like to thank you for all you do.
I want to let you know that 25 years ago, I had my daughter in a Naval Hospital (in the Midwest), prior to her transfer to a NICU in a Chicago suberb. I was a 21 y.o mom, with my 2 sons (4 and 2), my daughter's father was in the Navy. The long and short of it is that, I found support in caring for this special infant in unlikely places. It was impressed upon me by the Neonatalogist and especally the nurses that she needed all the love and care that any infant would need. On the side, our life did not go as planned (or how it looked from the professional's point of view). I keep this in mind in my nursing practice, dealing with patient's and their families. I try to instill the fact that there are all kinds of resources for folks. Getting back to my preemie, she graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree and has a career in graphic arts. Lastly, people do find there way. Even former teenage mothers like me.

9:47 AM  
Blogger La Lubu said...

With all due respect, I don't think you have any idea of the living hell that awaits many of these children of teen mothers

On the contrary, I do know exactly the kind of life the children of these teen mothers will have. These children are my family. My friends. My neighbors. The vast, overwhelming majority of them turn out to be just fine. The vast, overwhelming majority of single mothers are not abusive. Those that are abusive, would be just as likely to be abusive if they were married---more so, if they were married to another abuser. Marriage doesn't magically turn violent, selfish people into compassionate, loving people. Abusers will abuse, regardless of marital status. Please divest yourself of the idea that "stress levels" cause people to drop babies into boiling water. Have you ever felt the desire to do something like that after a hard day? Nahh, me neither.

Keep in mind that when these studies are controlled for poverty, the children of single mothers and married mothers have the same outcome. Yes, I am well aware that single mothers are generally more likely to be poor---but at the same time, over seventy percent of us are not.

There is a middle class assumption that getting married means being better off financially (supposedly due to the second income). In some neighborhoods, that isn't true---there is no second income, just a second financial burden. Supporting a nonworking adult, particularly one that has expensive taste in clothing, booze, trinkets, etc. is far more expensive than supporting children. Been there, done that.

"Well, why'd you have anything to do with him in the first place?!" Well geez, why do middle-class people get divorced? How someone behaves in the early stages of a relationship isn't necessarily an indication of their behavior later on, particularly if they choose substance abuse as their vice. 'Nother words, anyone can make a mistake. Poor impulse control? There's a lot of folks in suburbia with that problem too. Read the papers much? It's hardly the poor and working class who have a lock on living outside their means (credit cards! second mortgages! woo hoo!). Not to mention those folks attend AA, NA, Gambler's Anonymous, etc.

You will find the same sorts of people in any demographic. I'm not claiming all single mothers are good ones. I'm saying we are good or bad in exactly the same proportion as married suburbanites. Don't point toward prison statistics to prove me wrong; the availability of family money skews the results, as those with means pay large amounts to talented attorneys to keep their law-breaking progeny from having to deal with the consequences of their actions.

In short---judge by the person, not the stereotype. Why should that be so hard? I'm a damn good mother. I should be; I work at it. I'd like a little respect, too. Yet, that's not what I ever get at my first shot out-the-gate from yeeeeeesss, medical personnel, or now---teachers. Why are some so anxious to assume the worst of me? I haven't given any indication that I deserve that---and neither have most single mothers. You like stats? They clearly show that most of us are not like the worst-case-scenarios you describe.

What in your life is so lacking that you need us to be your scapegoat?

2:33 PM  
Blogger Amy Tuteur, MD said...

Here's what I'd like to know: What is the down side to waiting?

Every study every done has shown that it is better for the child if the mother waits until she is emotionally, educationally and financially ready to nurture a child. That's all I'm asking for. The only down side to waiting is that a teenager cannot get what she wants the minute she wants it. That's not much of a down side to me.

Please do not think that this is about you. No one is talking about you personally. They are talking about preventing future tragedies. That you are taking good care of your children does not change the fact that other people will definitely benefit from postponing childbearing until they have attained the necessary emotional maturity, educational achievement and financial security.

Let's think about what's best for the children, not the needs of the mothers.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Gregory G. Oman said...

There have always been illegitimate births. But now it is almost a source of pride. I see many young unwed mothers. What do they have in common as a general rule? First, no loving father in the home. They have no normal father-daughter relationship. Second, there entire life is based on material things that they either can have or cannot have. There is rarely a future for them that is bright. They are undereducated, incapable of properly raising a child and many of them avoid the obvious answer to their dilemna of giving the child up for adoption. It will only get worse and continue to be a drain on our society.

4:54 PM  
Blogger La Lubu said...

What's the down side to waiting? There is no down side---except that not everyone is going to wait. They didn't wait in my grandmother's day, either. So, with that in mind, what's the down side to birth control that is easily accessible to teenagers---say, at school? What's the down side to educating teenagers about all their birth control options, not just abstinence? For that matter, what's wrong with Jocelyn Elders' suggestion of teaching teens that masturbation is part of a healthy sex life?

Look. Most of those young mothers being condemned aren't having all kinds of sex with multiple partners. They got pregnant as a result of a steady relationship. Which is pretty much the mirror image of what happens when older single women get pregnant, too.

Should people wait until they are emotionally, educationally, and financially ready to have a child? Sure! Now, define those terms. Because I'm thinking that what constitutes "readiness" in your eyes is probably markedly different than what consitutes "readiness" in mine. Readiness is a loaded term. When I was pregnant, I visited various "mainstream" parenting sites on the internet. I was happy about my pregnancy, and thought visiting the "boards" would be cool.

Wow. Was I in for a surprise. I never did respond on any of those boards; the vitriol was amazing. There were people on there that boldly said that if you couldn't afford to stay at home with your child, you had no business having one and in fact, you were quite selfish if you did. Oh, and having children share bedrooms was another no-no. Hell, in my mother's day, children were expected to share the bed. Yet somehow, even without all the material largesse---kids still continue to grow up and do well.

Like I said before, it's much easier to have the child after pursuing an education than before. But that's largely a matter of logistics. We have a saying here in the midwest that goes something like "shutting the barn door after the cows got loose". If a young woman already has a baby, shouldn't we be making that logistical path of completing her education easier, so she can raise her child self-sufficiently? Instead, we get "marriage initiatives". Shit. Marriage doesn't put food on the table or a roof over your head. But a college degree (or its equivalent) will.

Human beings are creatures of habit. We tend to operate within the same parameters we are used to. The young women who are getting pregnant aren't the ones who have ever been seriously offered college as an option. Not by their parents, not by their teachers, not by their guidance counselors. Why act so surprised when they veer off a "college track" they were steered from back in grade school?

And....it is about me. I may be older, but I'm tarred with that same brush. EVery negative stereotype about single mothers has been foisted onto me too, beginning with my drug screen that I mentioned on a previous thread, when I went into premature labor. I have empathy for those young mothers because I witnessed the struggles of women in my family who did follow that path. And frankly, that's pretty much what people from outside my family expected of me---within my family, I was "the smart one", but to outsiders? Just a "jersey girl" in training. I know what low expectations do to a person. Thankfully, I also know about overcoming them.

And that's all I want for those young mothers---that they have the strength to overcome the low expectations. Of others, and of themselves.

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Kate said...

I have no knowledge of medicine, so are you saying that delaying childbearing would make it more likely for her to have the child (not just to raise it)? This woman wasn't a young teen. In my neck of the woods, which is fairly far out, women in their late teens and early twenties at least seem to be able to get pregnant and the women who delay childbearing until their thirties and, god forbid, forties who seem unable to have children. So, are you saying that this woman would have upped her chances of passing on her genes if she had delayed having a baby until after she'd completed some academic or technical training?

2:37 PM  
Blogger Norma said...

If Lubu wants babies and no daddy because it works for her, she shouldn't assume that statistically that works for the rest of the country. Very few children end up in poverty if their mothers have finished high school and married the father before having a baby. When they mess up with an early pregnancy and no daddy, the stats are grim. Try as you might, you just can't make men disposable.

Women want power? They have the power to end poverty by marrying the fathers of their children before they get pregnant.

A new book on divorce and children "Lives of Quiet Turbulence" indicates a bad marriage is better for children than a good divorce, financially and emotionally. All the happy talk about subcultures, trope and support is just that.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Amy Tuteur, MD said...

I suspect that this phenomenon represents the confluence of a number of social trends:

1. The emphasis on self-actualization. There is a sense that what you do and what you want must be right because it is what you want. That is a dangerous way to look at the world.

2. The neglect of responsibility. People may know what they want, but they aren't willing to accept the responsibility that goes with it. They want a child, but they aren't willing to do what is necessary to properly support one, yet they go ahead and have a baby anyway.

3. One of the most pernicious fallacies of the last 25 years --- that a child's happiness is somehow dependent on a mother's happiness. Hence the claim that a child cannot be happy unless its mother is happy. There is no evidence for this and there is no reason to think that this is so.

4. The sense that everyone's choices are equally worthy and that everyone is entitled to have their choices, even their bad choices, validated by the approval of others.

5. The unwillingness to accept blame for bad decisions and bad outcomes. Hence the claim that single motherhood does not increase poverty and bad outcomes; it must be the stigma of single motherhood is causing the poor outcomes. In other words, my children are suffering not because of my bad choices, but because you refuse to support me in my bad choices.

This is not a defense of conservative values. Those who call themselves conservatives in 2006 are just as bad as liberals. Conservative states have the highest divorce rates, for example. Furthermore, the relentless push to cut taxes is just another glaring example of the neglect of our responsibilities to our fellow citizens. No, both conservatives and liberals glorify doing what you want simply because you want to, and ignore responsibility. Children suffer as a result.

6:03 PM  
Blogger La Lubu said...

A new book on divorce and children "Lives of Quiet Turbulence" indicates a bad marriage is better for children than a good divorce, financially and emotionally.

Really. Perhaps you can explain to me a few things that I just can't seem to get a handle on. For instance:

1. What are the benefits to children to grow up in a home where they witness their mother being denigrated on a daily basis? What are the benefits to hearing statements like "you fucking worthless cunt....you goddam no-good bitch." Are the benefits different for boys who hear these statements, as opposed to girls? Discuss.

2. What are the benefits for children when they witness their mother being slapped or punched? How about kicked? Spit in the face? What important positive lessons are learned by bearing witness to these actions, especially during the formative years? Discuss.

3. What are the benefits to children who grow up with a philandering father? Is this an appropriate method for teaching children the importance of sharing? Is there a lesson in frugality and the importance of delayed gratification being taught when Johnnie and Janie must forego baseball teams and guitar lessons, because Daddy really needs that money to entertain his mistress?

4. What beneficial lessons are children learning when the electricity is shut off because the bar tab had to be paid?

5. Children in the United States are falling behind in science. Discuss the ways in which a home meth lab can contribute to a higher grade-point average for middle school students.

When the phrase "bad marriage" is spoken to you, do you think of arguments over ESPN vs. ER, and who gets the remote? When the phrase "bad marriage" is spoken to me, I immediately think of substance abuse, domestic violence, and cheating. I also think of depleted savings accounts, overdrawn checking accounts, money stolen out of purses, etc. There's a tremendous difference between an argument over which way the toilet paper should hang, and whether or not you should cash in your child's U.S. savings bond their godfather presented you with, in order to bail Mr. Wonderful out of jail.

See the "single" thread for more responses; I don't think there's much I can say to someone who thinks children experiencing any of the above scenarios are learning anything of value.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Amy Tuteur, MD said...

What has that got to do with saying that teenagers should wait until they are older before having a baby?

What that tells me is that women who are dating men who are drunks, substance abusers, wife beaters etc. should not have children, IN ADDITION to the fact that teenagers should not have children.

It's really just the same problem. If you are not in a position to provide a child with a loving, involved, employed, non-substance abusing, non wife beating father, you should not bring a child into the world, because every child DESERVES a loving, involved, employed, non-substance abusing, non wife beating father.

The choice is not between a lousy father and no father, the choice is getting pregnant when you feel like it and get pregnant when you can meet a child's needs.

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The choice is not between a lousy father and no father, the choice is getting pregnant when you feel like it and get pregnant when you can meet a child's needs."

Thank you. I get so frustrated with this argument being all about the mother and her challenges. Every child deserves to be loved, nurtured and safe. Sure, one parent can do this but two parents (defined as loving, responsible parents) can do it better. Poor kids can be successful but children of educated, employed parents statistically and obviously have more opportunities. It's not about the mother, the second she conceives it's about the child and what kind of situation will give that child the best opportunities for health and happiness. Fathers are not disposible but necessary to the balanced development of boys and girls. Why the assumption that having a dad/husband is a bad thing? My dad and most of my friends dad's are wonderful, loving men. And while I'm at it, I don't think a middle class or upper class home where both parents work full time and the child is raised by nannies/day-care is a significantly better situation than children being born to undereducated,single parents - they still don't have a parent raising them. My opinion, children are a life-long self-sacrificing decision and it is the responsibility of parents to be prepared to raise their children to be productive participants in society (I know, I'm a dreamer).

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