And it’s a biggie.
Jack and I are reasonably open to our children’s questions and musings about S.E.X.. We want them to feel comfortable enough with us to ask the questions they need to ask, but we don’t want to make our home one big Pent*house forum. We want to arm them with knowledge of the dangers of teen-sex (in particular at this point), but we don’t want to send them into therapy with sexual issues. We want to help them make appropriate and responsible decisions when the time comes. We want them to be able to experience healthy ADULT physical and intimate relations, but NOT UNTIL WE’RE DEAD. And most of all, we do not want them to come home pregnant. We agree on those points.
We also agree that it would be best for the father of the baby to make himself real scarce. We have a shovel and a gun. We doubt anyone would miss him. (Quick, what movie?) In any scenario we have little use for him. It isn’t our job to worry about him. Our job is to worry about what is best for our daughter and obviously it is not the boy who didn’t respect her enough to NOT HAVE SEX WITH HER. We agree on that. In our world he would fade into oblivion and our daughter would realize after a few sleepless/tear-filled nights how much stronger she is without him.
We do not agree on a course of action should all our plans fail and our teenage daughter tearfully admits to us that she and this guy she met at work like had sex once (and they never intend to do it again because like, they were so totally not ready for it only having known each other for like an hour) and now she’s pregnant. Should this happen Jack says he would strongly suggest putting the baby up for adoption. He would try to persuade her that that would be the best choice. He has age limits on this though, before 20, the baby goes to another home. Twenty and after then we help our daughter raise her baby.
Does that strike anyone else as just plain weird? What if it happens at 19 and 3/4? Maybe it’s just that I’m a woman and I balk at the thought of someone – even someone with the best intentions – telling my daughter that it would be a bad choice to keep her child. Could he live with himself knowing that someone else was raising our grandchild when we are entirely capable?
It would not be an easy road, helping your child raise her child while you’re still raising her. How on earth do you ground a 17 year old mother? What a terrifying dynamic. It would be one I would take on however because I can’t imagine even suggesting to my daughter that as punishment for being too young she can’t keep her baby, especially when we could help and life would go on pretty much as before.
As I tried to explain to Jack, an unplanned pregnancy is not the end of the world. An unexpected baby does not have to mean that college is no longer on the board. It does not have to mean a lifetime of minimum wages and a string of loser boyfriends. Not if we’re supportive. Not if we look at the situation for what it is. Not if we sit with our baby and help her make clear-headed decisions and goals for her and her child. Would we celebrate our daughter’s poor choices? It’s not like I’d print up “My 17 year old daughter is knocked up. Ask me how!!” t-shirts, but I certainly wouldn’t ban her to the back bedroom like my mother was.
Or maybe I’m projecting what I would have wanted had this happened to me. By far Jack is the most pragmatic of the two of us. His judgement is usually sound, but this time I’m not so sure.
So, I’ll parrot Lindsay over at Suburban Turmoil. What’s your plan? How do you talk about sex with your kids? For those of you who have raised children who have not gotten pregnant/stoned/arrested, how did you manage it? For those of you who have not been so fortunate, what would you do differently? How did/would you meet your mate half-way if you have differing views?