Category Archives: Pregnancy

“Shame” on You

Recently, I came across a newspaper’s Letter to the Editor written by a well-known television personality.  She’d gotten pregnant out-of-wedlock at 17, and had to endure  “…[my] mother’s disappointment, my father’s anger, the priest’s admonishment…[T]he shame and ridicule were more than I could bear.  I was no good.  I had messed up.  I knew it.  My dreams and life were shattered.  Days later, I was married off and sent away.  I said I did not love this man.  I was told: ‘You made your bed; now you must lie in it.’”

She went on to recount the damage to her self-esteem (which she called “life-threatening”) and described being ostracized and condemned as a “bad” girl, “when I had tried hard all my life to do well and make my parents proud.”

While it’s natural to feel compassion for someone who has faced that kind of negative reaction from all the significant adults in her life, it’s important to point out that this situation was not all about her.  And it seems like this author still doesn’t get it.  It is about the innocent, dependent child who finds himself or herself in an unprepared, chaotic, non-committed, immature and fragile situation by being born to a teenager and her male counterpart who are having a sexual relationship and are not prepared for the biological consequences:  a pregnancy.

The concept of “feeling shame” is a very human, emotional/social mechanism.  Its purpose is to deter people from engaging in behaviors that will have negative consequences for them, for others who may be victimized by their behavior, and for the community and society as a whole.   The motivation behind those who rage against “shame” is to dissociate behavior from consequence.  These days, judgment of others is considered a bad thing because it hurts feelings, but having hurt feelings (particularly if they’re the result of actions which cause pain to others) is a good thing; it is part of having a conscience.  Only good people feel guilt.  Only good people suffer from doing ill to others.  It’s human, natural, expected and respected for people to suffer over their wrongdoing.  To complain, however, that wrongdoing should not result in any negative reaction is immature and defensive and contrary to the notion of taking responsibility for how one’s actions impact others.

The author of the letter complains about having to marry the young man – whom she didn’t love – in order to legitimize the baby and take responsibility as a family for the child’s welfare.  Why is that a bad thing?  Why was she having sexual relations with someone for whom she didn’t have the highest regard and wouldn’t have chosen to be the father of her future children?   Is it not in the best interest of the child to have the foundation of a family?

Submitting to responsibility for a dependent child seems like a noble action to me.  Staying mutually committed for the well-being of another human being sounds noble to me.  And many can report that people so inclined grow together and build a strong love and family foundation. These ideals, however, don’t often resonate with people who marry this young.  That is why adoption is often the best solution for the child.

The author of this letter was making the point that the media shouldn’t focus on those young men and women who make this sort of “mistake,” because it hurts their feelings and because these are private issues.  Generally, these are private issues, but when people in the public eye and their families display behaviors which undermine role-modeling obligations or expectations, it should be examined publicly, because impressionable youngsters take their cues from their environment.  When there is no public “shame” for destructive, hurtful or illegal behaviors our children see and emulate, the disasters grow exponentially.

The author writes : “If my pregnancy – my deepest shame – had been broadcast for all to know about, I might have taken my life.”  Clearly, now that the author is a mature woman, she is making her own “shameful” history public and is not suicidal.  Maturity is an important factor in dealing with serious issues, which is precisely why children should not be engaging in activities that endanger the lives of innocent people (as we’ve seen with fetuses being aborted or newborns tossed in dumpsters or toilets).  The young women themselves are at risk when they have a child’s view of how “life is over” just because they’re embarrassed. 

So, instead of railing about how upsetting shame is to a pregnant youngster, it is important to point out to all the other young people out there what dangerous ground they tread when they “walk” as responsible adults, but in reality have the footprints of naïve children.  Taking this story public is a way to warn children away from playing with the “perks” of committed adults when they are in no position to take on the responsibilities of their actions, nor to cope well with the emotional fallout.

We are in an era which judges “judgment” as evil.  It isn’t.  Morals, values, principles and ethics are prophylactics against pain and destruction, and not just somebody’s evil attempt to wrest momentary pleasure from the grip of innocent bystanders.

When Children Have Children

The teen pregnancy rate is up for the first time since 1991, according to a report released by the National Institutes of Health, and is a cause for concern.   “This is one of the key indicators for the health of the teen population,” said Edward Sondik, Director of the National Center for Health Statistics.  “Not only does this affect teen health at this point, but their health and well being for the next 20 to 40 years, as well as the health and well-being of their children.”

This is one of the most self-centered actions a female can take.  It is obviously not in the best interest of a child to be robbed of a father, a two-parent home, and a committed relationship which would give the child the security and role-modeling he or she needs to fulfill hopes and plans for a loving, secure marital future.

It’s very “in” lately to be a pregnant Hollywood star, and lots of money is offered for exclusive pictures of the heirs to celebrity notoriety or fame.  It doesn’t seem to matter if the star is married or not – there is no judgment, no condemnation, no “clucking,” no criticism, no shame, and no consequences.  It is just all “okay.”
 
When people do the wrong thing, repent, and then do the right thing, you’d think that they would be idolized.  Nope.  The media tends to humiliate and denounce them as hypocrites.  So, the “act” is irrelevant; the only thing that is relevant in current day society is that you must never say that anything is “wrong.”  If you do dare to call anything “wrong,” then you will be attacked. 

But back to the children.  Children having children is in no way a positive thing for either child.  There is sufficient research and practical experience to confirm the problems encountered by children without an intact family.  Why is this ignored?  Why is this denigrated or dismissed?  Why doesn’t anybody care about the children?  Why is it all about how the female “feels” – which, I’m sure, isn’t too great, once the reality sinks in that caring for an infant involves a lot of sacrifice and stress.

Kids have very little to connect to these days.  That might sound like an odd comment considering all the means of communication available:  email, text messages, cell phones, and Internet social networking sites, but paradoxically, as the number of technological advances continues to grow, the sense of truly being bonded and connected one-on-one in the non-virtual space continues to diminish…significantly.  When one has a site with 200 “friends,” one really doesn’t have a true friend.

With parents not around to connect with kids because of busy careers or divorce, or because they’re shacking up or never got married, having a baby of one’s own seems like an obvious way for a kid to get attention, bond to someone, and have some “hands-on” love.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t play out that way as the child-mothers discover that children are seriously dependent beings.

I remember when actresses like Ingrid Bergman (who left her husband and child to go to Europe to have an affair with one of her directors) were shunned from Hollywood for such behavior,  Now, having affairs, abandoning children, and giving birth out-of-wedlock are met with magazine covers and more job offers based on increased visibility.

When children have children, it’s largely because nobody is taking care of them; they’re lonely and lost.  But we should never point a finger or suggest fault – after all, someone’s feelings might be hurt!  And we all know that “feelings” are the most important value – right?  Dead wrong.

Gloucester High Pregnancy Pact

All media outlets recently went “buzzy” over the alleged conspiracy by a group of minor girls to get themselves pregnant.  My immediate concern went to the babies these children were so carelessly producing.  The real issue for me is that the babies are going to be born into troubled circumstances.

It is terribly sad that these children had so little to hold on to and look forward to that they used this as a way to feel connected, important, and/or loved.  I can only hope that their babies will – because of all this critical scrutiny – be adopted into loving two-parent (Mom and Dad), mature, stable marriages and families.  This ultimately is in the best interest of the children.