Court overturns father’s grounding of 12-year-old [link]
“At her age, children test their limits and it’s up to their parents to set boundaries.
“I started an appeal of the decision today to reestablish parental authority, and to ensure that this case doesn’t set a precedent,” she said. Otherwise, said Beaudoin, “parents are going to be walking on egg shells from now on”.
“I think most children respect their parents and would never go so far as to take them to court, but it’s clear that some would and we have to ask ourselves how far this will go.”
Seventeen schoolgirls pregnant after making pact [link]
“Nearly half the expecting students, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together,” Joseph Sullivan, principal of the high school in the fishing and beach town told Time.
It was unclear why the pact was made, as none of the girls or their parents agreed to speak with Time.
“Having a baby fulfills two functions – one is that they have the love of a male, well they believe they have the love of a male,” she told Boston news website TheBostonChannel.com.
“Then, the baby gives them a sense of status and purpose which they wouldn’t necessarily have in another way.”
Time wrote that Gloucester High “has done perhaps too good a job of embracing young mothers”, providing them with on-site childcare and healthcare facilities.
The tabloid outrage aimed at both these stories is pretty predictable, following closely along the lines of the quoted lawyer and teacher above. Reestablish Parental Authority! and These Girls Are Just Silly (And We’ve Made It Too Easy For Them)! But let’s play Devil’s Advocate just a little.
Might it be a good thing that a 12 year old has the determination and nous to go to court to prevent her father taking discipline to the extreme of stopping her going on school trips as part of her “grounding” punishment? Doesn’t she have a right to make her own decisions about whether her father’s punishment is inappropriate, and seek redress in court? Isn’t a message to kids that they are not powerless with regard to parental authority actually a really helpful message for lots of kids to hear?
Might it be a good thing that young looking at their future and when actually is the best time for them to start childbearing look at the support in their high school (and the extra support from fellow young mums pledging to coparent) and say “if I don’t do this now it’s going to be a lot harder when I start work or go to college” and decide to take advantage of a support structure that’s far from guaranteed at any other time of their lives? And will allow them to continue their education?
I discussed alternative co-parenting arrangements a few weeks ago: the nuclear family is not necessarily the best way to raise children. Marriage and families are being delayed until later in life because of the economical/professional constraints of people’s careers and expectations thereof, which means that new parents are often a long way away from the social networks of their upbringing when they have children of their own. The general expectation that it’s the mother who will stay at home with the baby often means women are raising their kids in suburban social isolation, which is stressful and often leads to depression. The kids don’t get the same level of socialisation that they would if their parents were part of a close network of friends/relatives who were also engaged in childrearing.
Say what you like about whether these teens have adequately considered the consequences of all becoming pregnant together right now (the blithe assumption that what they really want is a boyfriend but they’ll settle for having a baby really irritates me), but it can’t be denied that their bodies will recover quickly because of their youth, they will have a close network of peer support for themselves and their children, and if they do go on to careers and higher education having already had their family then that’s a gap from work that they won’t need to take in later years. This is a model that could actually work really well for these girls.
Jo Tamar had a good post on choices and alternative parenting models in May too.