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.