Although teen birth rates have dropped since the early 1990s, it is becoming a more talked about topic since MTV has been airing their shows “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”. Statistics state that about 1/3 of girls will become pregnant during their teen years and most of these are unintended. Most, but not all. Today I’d like to talk about those teen pregnancies that are planned.
Parents and other adults have a hard time understanding why a young girl would decide to have a baby, especially when she does not have the ability to provide for the child either financially or emotionally. Other teenagers would look at their life and decide that they aren’t ready to give up their freedom and fun-loving lifestyle. So why is it that some girls overlook these reasons to not have a baby and make that life changing decision to become a parent? They are looking for unconditional love. In my experience with working with teenage girls in the juvenile justice system, I have heard girls who wanted to have babies state that they want someone to love them. These young girls reported not feeling loved and cared for by their families and yearned to feel the unconditional love that they should have experienced with their parents. Often times they report a conflicted relationship with their own mother.
We all have a need to feel loved. It is a strong need, and the experience itself can become intoxicating, leaving individuals desperate to feel it again. In this state of need and desperation, people often don’t think clearly, hence the sayings “punch drunk love” and “blinded by love”. Girls will often look for love through relationships with boys, relationships that often become sexual. As girls begin to realize that this “love” is conditional and not real, they begin to get more desperate to experience unconditional love. They begin to realize that unlike a romantic relationship, a parent/child relationship does not end.
There is no reasoning with these young girls. They are often emotionally immature and are fixated on their dreams of what their life would be like with a child. Trying to help these girls to see that there is no guarantee that their child will love them unconditionally is fruitless, even though they report not loving their own mothers this way. They believe they know what it takes to be a good mother, even though they have not had good parental role models. So what can you do to help prevent a girl you know from becoming a teen mom by choice? It is important that these girls find a relationship with an adult that is supportive, trustworthy, and stable. Be there for her, show her what unconditional caring is like and that she does not have to go to such lengths to obtain it.
Jessica Stebbins, M.S., Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern
Discovery Institute, P.A. Rockledge,FL