Listening to the news on the radio this morning, I heard about the trial in London allowing 13 year-olds to get access to the pill. Hearing that made me feel sad. I'm not unrealistic. I know that many people under the age of 16 have sex. I think if they are going to do that then it's great they can be protected.. but it worries me.
Everyone is in such a rush these days. I remember what I was like at 13. I knew about sex, of course I did. But in reality I'd only just had my first proper snog at the lower school disco. No way in Hell was a ready for sex. My body was physically ready. My periods started when I was 11 and I already had D cup boobs (I know, I know.. but that was as source of embarrassment to me at that age!!). Was I mentally ready though? A big BIG no. Not at all. No way could I have coped with all that comes with a sexual relationship.
I do remember though that there was a girl at my school, in my year, who at the age of 13 ended up pregnant. With twins. She was a very small girl. Well under 5". I remember how bizarre she used to look lugging her poor heavily pregnant body around school, stretching her uniform. Back then, we just used to snigger and whisper behind her back. "Slag". Never gave a thought to the circumstances under which it happened. Rumour was her boyfriend was older. I don't know what happened to her.
Thinking about that now, I could almost cry. As a parent now, the thought of my child being sexually active scares me. It's natural, and it will happen, but I hope it's at a time when he is emotionally ready for it. I'm lucky though. He's a boy. He can't get pregnant. He can get someone pregnant, yes, and if he did, I would want him to take responsibility for his actions. I wouldn't let him shirk away. But ultimately, it'd be easier. I wouldn't be the one with a daughter at home, struggling physically and emotionally, sacrificing school and education. I wouldn't have to deal with that. Of course, the boy may give up some stuff to become a young parent, but not as much as the girl.
So... I'm really not sure what I feel about 13 year old girls being on the pill. Yes, it's great if they protect themselves, but what about emotional protection? Can you really be ready at 13 to be in such a deep adult relationship? I know children seem to do everything earlier and earlier these days.. and in fact, I know that socially, the idea of a "childhood" and "teenagers" is relatively new. Years back, most girls would have been married at 16 (or younger if we look far back!!) and pregnant. So having children young isn't a new thing. It's just that we've evolved as a society and given children and those under 18 the chance to grow, explore and learn without being forced into work and parenthood at a young age. Under-age pregnancy is not a new thing.
I just can't get the thought of how sad I would be if my child were having sex at such a young age. We can't back track though. Should we shrug our shoulders, accept the fact that kids are having sex and dole out the pills?
I can only hope that what I teach Ethan will be enough to allow him to make an educated decision. I hope he will be strong enough to ignore peer-pressure and only try things when he feels ready.
I think ultimately, that's the best we can do. Educate. Communicate. The pill is only a plaster really..
**edited to add the following**
It seems I'm not the only blogger with this subject in mind today. My blogging buddy Sarah from "The Voice of Sarah Miles" has blogged about this as well.. click over here if you fancy checking out her views.
My other blogging friend Cupcake Mumma has also joined in, check out what she has to say here.
This is a tough one. I think we can educate your children on sex/sexual relationships till the cows come home, but in the end they will do it with or without our knowledge and we can only hope that they are sensible enough to wait until they are ready.ReplyDelete
Peer pressure has a lot to do with it at school, I think. So maybe the answer is to try and raise confident kids with plenty of self esteem, so that they don't feel like they have to do anything to 'fit in'.
I am petrified about Willow hitting her teens. My parents don't know half the stuff I got up to, and I am dreading that with Willow!
It is so tough, isn't it! I certainly don't profess to have any answers. Like you though, I think confidence and self esteem are the best we can hope for to tackle teen pregnancies. I'm not saying nothing happy or good can come out of teen pregnancies, but it's not an ideal situation, and not one I think parents would wish for. I hope I can help Ethan to be confident.Delete
I wasn't a confident teen, but I certainly new not to be pressured into anything I didn't want. I was very lucky to have a circle of supporting sensible friends around me though. Although we got up to our fair share of mischief, all of us lost our virginity in sensible circumstances when we felt we were ready. We were all over 16. I'm not saying that if you do it under 16 that it can't be a well thought out and sensible decision. It's just it was that way for us. Personally, I was 17. Which I think is still (just) the average age.
That story you share is so sad. I remember something similar happening at my school, only the girl managed to keep it secret right up until she gave birth. For ages we considered that something of a curiosity, the kind of thing you sell to Take a Break: No one knew I was pregnant! I went in with suspected appendicitis and came out with a baby! It's only now I think she must have been so terrified. And similarly, I have no idea what happened to her (am also feeling quite tearful at the thought of it).ReplyDelete
That's just it, it really is such a sad story. Back then it was just funny to us, but I think that's because we didn't understand the consequences. I found being a Mum terrifying at the age of 27. How would I have coped at 13? I have no idea!Delete
This is something I think about all the time since Sabrina has turned 13, although I know that she isn't even interested in boys like that yet (thank god!).ReplyDelete
I became pregnant with Sabrina when I was 16. I thought I was an adult, thought I knew everything I'd ever need to know, as we all do at that age I'm sure! I'd been on the pill and wasn't stupid by any means but still ended up pregnant.
When I ask myself why, as I often do when I'm thinking about how to have these conversations with Sabrina, the main reason was that it didn't occur to me that there was more to be achieved in my future. I always wanted children, my Mum was married and pregnant with me at 19 and my Nan was married with children before 20, so it didn't seem foreign to me to have children at a young age.
I wouldn't wish any of my children away (well maybe when they're fighting the idea is tempting! ;) )but if I had started having them even 5 years later my life would have been very different. I had just started a-levels when I was pregnant with Sabrina, and I would love to have been to University etc but having children made it much harder (although I know it is not impossible).
The one thing I want my teenagers to realise is that there is plenty of time to have serious relationships, sex, children etc and that it is much easier to achieve qualifications, have fun, travel, go to University and more before they choose to have a family.
The other thing I think is so important is to be honest with them. At 16 my Mum tried to scare me about sex and boys, which I think is completely the wrong approach as I went ahead and did it anyway but just didn't talk about it.
I want my children to know that sex is great, and that it's even better if it's with the right person, and that pregnancy is something which in an ideal world you would plan when you are ready for it. I will also be making sure that my children know that pregnancy is not the only concern about sex and are totally aware of the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.
I think it is terribly sad that at 13, when children should still be enjoying their childhood they are concerned with sex, the pill and underage pregnancy. I think it is preferable that if they are having sex though that the pill is available to them. It does worry me that if they are on the pill are they also then taking precautions to make sure they don't catch an sti or is it just pregnancy they are concerned about? I know at 13 that my daughter is (in my opinion and I'm sure in her's too) not anywhere near ready for a relationship, but when I was young I knew girls of 13 who were having sex, so of course I know it happens.
Sorry this is ended up far too long! My point really is that we have to educate our children, bring them up with values, and make sure they feel able and comfortable to discuss these things with us and ask for help when they need it. Also if they do end up pregnant (or having gotten someone pregnant) that they should be able to come to us for help, love and support.