This past Junethe media was buzzingabout the Gloucester, Massachusetts, high school girls who may (or may not have) made a pact to become pregnant together. Seventeen girls in total are pregnant, more than quadruple the typical number of pregnancies in a class per year. Some are blaming movies like Juno and Knocked Up for their portrayal of young unmarried mothers. Personally,I loved Junobecause it was such a real life, down to earth, yet sweet movie about the things in life that we can't predict.
School officials in Gloucester are wavering from their original statements that the young girls made a pact to raise their children together. Some people are wondering if it's because this particular town has absentee parents that don't chaperone their sons' and daughters' all-night adventures. The small fishing town has been through a rough patch lately due to unemployment and economic hard times. Some residents and media are saying that these kids are not well-loved enough and are on their own' so often that they are looking to have babies for someone to love them back.' Others are claiming that in this Catholic town, perhaps the rates of pregnancy are not increasing, but rather the rates of abortion are decreasing as pregnant girls are receiving more and more support for having their babies. Gloucester High School offers on-site day care and a supportive school environment that allows the girls to be mothers and also get their high school diploma at the same time. The school hallways are flooded with students shuffling along with pom-poms, sports equipment, backpacks, and baby carriages. Or is this something that could happen anywhere in the Age of Nicole Richie, Brittney Spears, and even Brittney's 17-year-old sister Jamie Lynn? Maybe it has more to do with Realty TV and People Magazine messages than one town's struggles?
No matter what the cause of this supposed pregnancy pact, teen pregnancy is nothing new. In my day, girls were sent away to have their baby in private facilities. Grandma raised the baby as their own, only to release the secret years later to the family (or have the secret stumbled upon). Back alley, hanger-induced abortions were more common because safe medical care was often not an option. Doctors that dared to participate often went to jail. For young teenage mothers who had their babies and were public about it, well, many of them did the right thing and wed the guy, whether he was a one-nighter or a significant relationship. My generation knows all too well how poorly many of these marriages worked out.
Times change. But as the saying goes, what goes around comes around. Many grandparents are once again becoming new parents as they raise their children's children. If you have the energy, resources and inclination for this, great. But how many of us really would choose this when we've already raised our brood? Besides, many of the grandparents I know are busy with their own lives and also have the responsibility of monitoring their own or a significant other's illness.
Do I really want to deal with peanut allergies, complicated car seats, soy milk, in-car DVD's, X-Boxes, and piles and piles of plastic toys on a daily basis? Not me. I love being a grandma who has gotten to spoil my grandchildren rotten by taking them traveling, to ball games and especially doing something my wonderful kids would never do like let them stay up past bedtime playing poker. I'd much rather be a support staff grandma than a primary caretaker. How much easier to wonder about the Gloucester girls than to stay up past my bedtime fretting about what my own teenager might be doing. Been there, done that.
How many of you are, or know, a grandparent who is raising their grandchildren? What do you think about the Gloucester pregnancy pact? Sound off with your comments.