Look among the pregnancy books in your local bookstore, and imagine you are a pregnant teen. Everything is geared toward those women who get pregnant on purpose, or if it wasn't on purpose, it was not unwelcome. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, for you.
If you are a pregnant teen, the messages are in chorus: you are ruining your life and the life of your child. This no choice you would want to visit upon yourself or anyone you love. This is a one-way ticket to poverty and hardship and life without possibility.
The sources that contradict this message are few. Girlmom and Ariel Gore will spill the secrets of teenage motherhood, how it can be a good thing, something to celebrate, something to revel in. A challenge that makes you a better person, that can actually help, rather than hinder, the achievement of your goals.
And now there's another resource. Hope, Joy and a few little thoughts by Rachel Brignoni not only dispels the myth that teenage motherhood will spell the end of yourself (she went on to earn her degree and work at a Fortune 100 company) but offers, as the title says, hope and joy to those in a crisis pregnancy.
Her message is a valuable one. "In an effort to decrease teenage pregnancy, most campaigns stress associated poverty, hardship and limited opportunities for success" she writes. "These messages are intended to prevent teenage pregnancy, but offer little hope for those who become pregnant."
Teenage pregnancies are as natural as rain, as the wind. There is no preventing them completely. It is irresponsible for us as a society to dismiss and shame teenage mothers. They can, and do, make good mothers, in this culture and in many others.
She goes on to write: "The lasting effect of these messages can weaken your power, so I encourage you to disregard them immediately...It is critical to let go of disparaging thoughts and find new hope that will result in love and support. these new messages will be vital in empowering yourself."
And she hits it exactly: when encountering a pregnant teenager, instead of thinking of the loving couple she can benefit by aborting her own motherhood, we should focus on enabling her own empowerment.
Needing support does not disqualify a woman from deserving her child. The most prepared and mature mothers still need support. Children cannot, and should not, be raised in a vaccuum. It may be trite, but it really does take a village. We can all be the village.