Keeping The Baby?

Keeping the baby is one of the choices that a teenage girl has when she discovers that she’s pregnant. If you’re young, unmarried, and faced with an unplanned pregnancy, you too may feel that you want to keep your baby.

 

We assume you’ve already had a pregnancy test, and know for sure that you’re pregnant. If you haven’t, please call our tape “Am I Pregnant?” for more information on pregnancy tests.

There are many good reasons for wanting to have a baby. Being a parent can be perhaps the most rewarding experience of a person’s life. A baby’s growth and development can be a wonderful thing to nurture and watch over, so it’s perfectly natural to have feelings about wanting to keep the baby. But just as there are good reasons for wanting to be parent, there are also some bad reasons. When a pregnant teenager decides to keep her baby for some of these reasons, she can create a lot of problems for herself and her baby.

Let’s look at some of the common problems that young mothers run into when they don’t give the decision to keep the baby the kind of responsible thought it deserves.

Sometimes, pregnant teens don’t realize just what having a baby and raising a child means. For starters, it means a total change in lifestyle. Most teen mothers drop out of school. In fact, 8 out of 10 girls who become mothers when they’re 17 or younger drop out and never finish high school. There will be little time for dating or any other kind of social life, at least for a couple of years. That’s because a baby is totally dependent and needs care and attention around the clock.

Having a baby and raising it also means rough going financially. Delivery and seeing him or her through the first year alone easily costs several thousand dollars. Since most young mothers don’t finish high school and their earning power is limited they find it hard to support themselves and their babies.

Some pregnant girls decide to keep their baby because they think it will help their relationship with the babies father. That’s pretty risky. About 50% of the teenage fathers split before the baby is born, and 9 out of 10 are no longer around by the time the child is five years old. Even if the parents get married, the divorce rate is higher than for most couples. Sixty percent of all teen marriages now end is separation or divorce within six years.

Sometimes, the decision to keep the baby is made because the girl’s parents offer to raise the child for their daughter, or offer to let the mother and baby live with them. This may sound generous, but sometimes the offer is motivated by the teen’s parents’ need to control their daughter’s life and their own need to feel depended upon. Living at home can sometimes create additional problems for the teenage mother, since the grandparents may take over the role of parenting with the new baby. When the time comes to leave the home, the situation can be very hard on everyone – the baby, the mother, and the grandparents.

Another reason many teens keep their babies is that they want someone to love them, someone to be dependent on them. It’s certainly fun to be able to sit and show your friends pictures of the baby as it grows, and talk to other mothers about what stage your baby is going through.

Babies are cute – but they also cry a lot and need to be fed at two in the morning, and they will have temper tantrums and fights with neighborhood kids. They will be dependent on you for everything for a number of years, but will eventually grow up and become independent. Keeping a baby, then, to meet your own needs can lead to a lot of problems as the baby grows up and becomes less dependent on you.

We’ve talked about some of the common problems that face a teenage mother when she chooses to keep her baby for some unsound reasons. The fact that you were interested enough to call this tape is good and suggests that you are beginning to take an honest and hard look at some of the decisions that you’ll soon have to make.

For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.