Guest Author - Cathy Brownfield
When Virginia’s best friend in high school got pregnant, the other mothers didn’t want their daughters to associate with Leah because she was a bad girl, a bad influence. The boy wasn’t bad, just Leah. And she’d be stuck raising a child, a completely different world from the one the other girls lived in while they were attending high school.
Virginia and her friends had a baby shower for Leah.
“You shouldn’t be doing a baby shower. She’s a bad girl,” Mom said.
“That baby is innocent,” Virginia answered. “That baby is going to need things that Leah can’t afford. The baby didn’t ask to be born. But he needs to be taken care of. He deserves that.”
When Virginia told her mother that she and Charlie were starting their family, her mother said, “I raised mine, now you’ll raise yours. Don’t expect me to raise them for you.”
Virginia took her mother at her word. When times got difficult, Virginia learned to juggle her children, husband, home, obligations and responsibilities, to do things the best she could and learned to be resourceful. That didn’t mean she didn’t call her mom for motherly advice. She and Charlie always tried to do things right, in the proper order.
These days it has become commonplace for teens, even girls as young as 11 or 12, to become pregnant and opt to keep their babies. These girls have been called “babies raising babies” and are ill-equipped to be rearing a child since they have so little information to work with. Thus, the face of grandparenting has changed. Grandparents are parenting their teens who are parents and they are caring for and providing for their grandchildren, either with or without a parent in the home, according to U.S. government statistics.
Virginia and Charlie’s daughter came to them. She couldn’t even look at her parents to tell them what had happened. But Virginia guessed. And was self-condemning. What lessons had she not taught her daughter? Hadn’t she talked about abstaining from sex until she was married? Hadn’t she been vigilant enough about protecting her daughter from following the crowd?
“It’s the times we live in,” Virginia’s mother said.
“That excuse isn’t good enough,” Virginia snapped.
She insisted that her daughter take care of the baby. But when Virginia came in from work, after greeting everyone else, she made a bee-line for the cradle and held the baby, talked and cooed and sang to him, just as she had done with her own babies.
When her daughter picked up a job at McDonald’s working the evening shift, Virginia was the baby’s caregiver. She bathed him, changed him, fed him, rocked him and put him to bed each night. She knew how expensive it was for a single parent to provide for a child because she knew how costly it was for her and Charlie to take care of everyone in the household. She didn’t complain. She just did what she thought was best.
You may be such a grandparent at this time, or you have been in the past so you know what this discussion is all about. You may not be there yet, but may find yourself there “someday.” There are no guarantees. We teach our children what we believe is best and right. Then our children make decisions whether they will follow what they’ve been taught, go their own way, or follow the crowd, to fit in. Our children make serious, life-altering mistakes. The lessons of responsibility come with taking care of our responsibilities. Encourage your older children to consider the consequences of their actions before they act so they are sure they want to have to deal with the consequences. Then, let them.