Guest Author - Dominique Jordan
Despite the fact that teen pregnancy is on the decline, many issues regarding it are still unclear to many Americans. Read on to see some of the most common misconceptions debunked.
1. "I canít get pregnant if I use a certain technique or birth control."
The United States has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world and most teens have lots of opportunity to access birth control and many do. In fact, as you probably know, most teens are very well educated about sex and contraceptives. So, if they worked, you would think that the teen pregnancy rate wouldnít be this high. The problem is that some techniques donít work at all such as ďpulling outĒ, using certain position that are rumored to prevent pregnancy, improperly using a condom (which is pretty easy to do in the moment), or not taking birth control pills regularly.
Other techniques donít work very well such as the Natural Family Planning method in which couples time sex to the girlís period. The problem there is that most teenage girls donít have regular enough periods for this to work. And even contraceptives that work, donít always work. Read the packages, they will tell you that they only work a percentage of the time and I wouldn't buy brakes for my car that only worked a percentage of the time.
Another big problem is that we like to delude ourselves into thinking it couldnít happen to us. People will sometimes tell their partners they are infertile, on birth control, or that they donít have an STD and it will be a lie. It is easy to believe these lies, though because we want to be in love with our partners and trust them. The unfortunate truth is that people do lie and you can never be sure unless you are the one making sure you are protected.
2. "Whatís the big deal? Women have babies all the time?"
Itís true. Women have babies all the time. The problem is that teens arenít quite women and their bodies arenít quite ready to have babies. This causes lots of problems. Babies of teen parents have higher rates of being born premature which can cause everything from chronic severe medical problems to death. And even if the babies are born at the right time, teen mothers have a higher risk of having a difficult birth which would endanger both the baby and the mother. Also, girl babies of teen parents have a high rate of growing up to be a teen mother and baby boys of teens have a higher rate of ending up in jail.
3. "Yeah, having a kid is hard, but I can still manage. Lots of teens do."
Having a kid is not only hard, it will change your life in ways people have a hard time imagining until they have a baby. Sleeping, eating, taking a shower. All the things you take for granted will become difficult. Because of this, one third of teen parents donít finish high school. Having a baby also costs money that teens often donít have Ė diapers alone cost at least $20 a week. And childcare costs are outrageous Ė often several hundreds of dollars a week. And teen fathers, while they try, usually pay less than a few hundred dollars a month in child support. Because of this, many teens become far more tied to their parents than they planned and have a harder time moving into the world and living on their own. And raising a baby with your parents is very difficult. You think you have a hard time getting them to understand why you do the things you do, try to imagine making them understand you point of view about parenting.
4. "But having a baby means that I have someone to love me."
Often, babies conceived by teen parents are conceived very much out of love. Teen couples feel love very intensely and want to stay together forever. Teen mothers are excited about having a baby to love them and often teen fathers have every intention of staying with their girlfriend and new child. The problem is that, while cute and cuddly, babies donít really give a lot of love back. Babies are very very needy. They cry and whine and want-want-want. They want to be fed, they want their diapers changed, they want all your time and attention. And this stresses out teen couples who often break up Ė usually over eighty percent of teen fathers donít stay with the mother of their child. It is just too hard. And this leaves the teen mother, alone, with a very needy baby.
Ultimately, raising a child is no easy endeavor and being a teen raising a child makes the endeavor even harder.