I’m a little offended that you referred to 18 to 20 year olds as “kids”. Many are not mature and are still teenagers, but one of my friends has had 3 planned children, one at 19, one at 22, and one at 26. I’m 21 and my husband and I are trying to get pregnant. Now, there’s a huge difference between me and a lot of 21 year olds and a lot of people under the age of 21. I have a college degree and I’ve had the same decent paying job for over 6 years.
It is sad when there are unplanned pregnancies at any age. I think there are just as many unplanned pregnancies in other age groups (my parents were 24 and 26 and I was not planned) but they aren’t in high school and are generally more financially stable, so it’s not really talked about. They certainly were not the best parents until they grew up (within the past 5-7 years). People mature at different ages. When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, regardless of age, some parents step up and do their best and are amazing parents and some dip and aren’t involved and still put themselves first and there are tons of people in between the two. My stepdaugther’s mom hasn’t seen or talked to her in 2 years and she was 25 when she left. My husband is now 30 and he stepped up and became the most amazing father I’ve ever met.
Sixteen and pregnant and teen mom are not glamorous in the least. Many of the kids are addicted to substances and the ones with fathers involved are in the minority. Many of the girls on there go to schools and talk about how hard it is to discourage teen pregnancy and to teach about resources that are available to avoid teen pregnancy. I’m sure some girls are like “Oh awesome I want to be on TV!” but some people just want attention. Some people want the unconditional love that a child will give them, and don’t realize how much work is involved. Some just don’t use protection because they don’t think it will happen to them, and that is not because it’s glamorized to not use birth control…it’s because they’re scared to go out and get it and they’re pressured to not use it in some cases.
Education is key in preventing unplanned pregnancies, and sometimes it’s not enough. Only a very small percent of teen pregnancies are planned, so shows like 16&pregnant and teen mom aren’t the main problem. If anything, they show that it can happen (almost all of the girls said they didn’t think they would get pregnant while not on birth control, but did and encourage the use of protection). I am going to be very open with my daughter about using protection and be open with my own experiences because it’s important that she knows she can ask me questions and that I will help her to get on birth control if she decides to be sexually active (while encouraging waiting until she is in a stable, long-term relationship and is older), and I know that may not be enough and that accidents happen.
I know many of my family members will be upset for a little bit when/if I get pregnant soon, and I fully understand where they are coming from. My reasons for starting a family early is that my stepdaughter is turning 5 and I want them to be close in age and I would rather be a stay at home mom now since I already am one and go back to school and start my career when the second child is in school as opposed to waiting a couple years and waiting longer to start my career.
So, in conclusion, unplanned pregnancies happen to all sorts of people at all sorts of points in their lives. The parents can step up or not, and when unplanned pregnancies happen at younger ages to teenagers it becomes less likely that the child will be raised in a stable environment, which is very sad. Education about protection and easy access to protection is important because many people who get pregnant on accident aren’t using protection/aren’t using protection correctly. Of course, this isn’t true for everyone and I think that best case scenario, people wouldn’t have sex unless they’re ready to have a baby, but many, many people, myself included, don’t and sometimes things don’t go as planned. (Of course we’re on cycle 3 of trying, so there you go).