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Teenage Pregnancy Essay, Research Paper

Teenage Pregnancy

Many American families display forms of dysfunctionality. In one family the father may

be a workaholic and the mother an alcoholic. In another, the father maybe an alcoholic

and the mother an enabling codependent who never touches a drop. Regardless of the

specific affliction, children being raised within dysfunctional families are deprived of

what is needed to become happy, healthy, and well-adjusted adults. One of the most

pervasive effects of this deprivation is teenage pregnancy.

In the case of a family where one parent, the father, is an alcoholic, the affected parent

turns to alcohol as a remedy for some personal shortcoming. This parent has little to

offer a young girl seeking the approval and admiration of her father. More often than

not, the child is viewed as a nuisance by the parent, and the resultant irritation is hard

to disguise. The child learns to either accept the irritation as the price for that parents

affection, or rejects the cost and seeks the attention of the other parent. The other

parent, if healthy, is carrying the weight of the alcoholic partner’s disease and the tasks

required to make a house a home. At best she has her hands full; at worst she is as

mentally incapacitated as the father. Consequently, the young girl grows up

under-nurtured, under-valued and lonely. Similar to craving carrots when the body needs

vitamin A, the young woman’s mind will seek the means to fulfill the void left by the

dysfunctional parent.!

When the deprived young woman reaches puberty, she finds a seemingly endless well of

attention, often mistaken as affection, in the young boys she has grown up with.

Unbeknownst to her, the young men, dealing with the onslaught of pubescent hormones, are

trying to fulfill a completely different set of needs. And thus, the groundwork has

been set for a teenage pregnancy.

The least complex enticement for an adolescent female to become pregnant is the fantasy

that the expected child will fulfill her need for love and affection. As seen on

television, a baby can be as cute as a stuffed animal and as loyal to its mother as a

Labrador retriever. What is not seen is that the baby is a life-long responsibility–one

that a teenage mother has not expected and is completely unprepared to accept. Also the

pregnancy itself can serve as a vehicle to receive the attention that was lacking in her

family of origin. I remember talking to a pregnant woman in line at the grocery store.

When I asked how long she had been pregnant, she replied six months and went on to state

that her baby kicks almost continually. In disbelief as asked if I could feel the baby

kick; she answered yes, and after 30 seconds the baby did kick. Later, in the parking lot,

it occurred to me that I had handled the stomach of a complete stranger solely because she

was pregnan! t. Another motivating factor is the hope that with the new child she will gain

some of the praise and respect that she was denied throughout her childhood. The act of

childbirth itself is a great accomplishment–an accomplishment which under normal

circumstances should be honored. Many couples try for years to produce children without

success. Some pregnancies require monumental efforts such artificial insemination or

invitro-fertilization. In the worst cases couples are forced to adopt. Consequently,

childbirth could be construed as an empowering experience by the adolescent, and that can

be significant in the life of a child who has had little power. The childbirth may also be

perceived by the adolescent as a passage into adulthood. In this, as in many of the

teenage mother’s expectations, she is quite often disappointed. It is easy to see that

the outcome desired by a pregnant teenager take several forms, but the underlying

motivation is to receive the love and admiration the parents would not, or could not

provide. The most devastating aspect of a teenage pregnancy is that little thought is

given to the responsibilities required of the mother to support her new child.

Consequently the likelihood is high that the next generation will not receive what it needs

to become happy and healthy individuals.

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