Scrolling Headlines:

UMass basketball can’t overcome No. 14 Minnesota in 69-51 loss -

November 24, 2017

UMass women’s basketball falls to North Dakota 82-52 -

November 22, 2017

Home-and-home with Quinnipiac up next for UMass hockey -

November 22, 2017

Carl Pierre’s breakout performance helps UMass men’s basketball over Western Carolina -

November 22, 2017

Pipkins’ double-double leads UMass men’s basketball over Western Carolina -

November 21, 2017

Luwane Pipkins leads the UMass men’s basketball shooting show in 101-76 win over Niagara -

November 19, 2017

UMass to face tough test with Niagara backcourt -

November 19, 2017

Hockey Notebook: John Leonard on an early season tear for UMass hockey -

November 18, 2017

Clock runs out on UMass men’s soccer’s dream season in NCAA opener -

November 17, 2017

2017 Basketball Special Issue -

November 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball prepares for transitional season in 2017-18 -

November 16, 2017

Author Viet Thanh Nguyen discusses how history and humanity is remembered -

November 16, 2017

CMASS completes seven-week discussion series -

November 16, 2017

UMass women’s basketball resets and reloads, looking to improve on last year’s record with plenty of new talent -

November 16, 2017

Matt McCall’s winding path to bring unity to UMass -

November 16, 2017

Carl Pierre is a piece to Matt McCall’s basketball program -

November 16, 2017

Why they stayed: Malik Hines, Chris Baldwin and C.J. Anderson -

November 16, 2017

McConnell chooses politics over morals -

November 16, 2017

Swipe right for love? Probably not. -

November 16, 2017

‘The Florida Project’ is a monument to the other side of paradise -

November 16, 2017

Teenage parents are not the enemies

 

Saulo Cruz/Flickr

Saulo Cruz/Flickr

Teenage pregnancy is a horror story passed from parent to daughter as a way to convince precious little girls to stay in school, stay away from drugs and save themselves from the social suicide that is becoming a pregnant teenager. Parents warn their sons against becoming involved with a certain “type” of girls –  the ones that “get themselves pregnant” and derail good young men’s lives. While all of the advice to stay in school and to avoid getting involved in risky or dangerous behavior is sound, it leaves those who do end up becoming a teenage parent in the grip of isolation and destructive judgement.

Society is often so busy hating pregnant teenagers and teenage parents that there is no room for anything other than judgement and stigma. This creates societal conceptions that do not allow for teenage mothers to better themselves. How can someone be expected to pull themselves up by their bootstraps when society refuses to give them any straps in the first place?

It is easy from the comfortable parlor of the middle class to imagine that the playing field is equal for everyone and if one can simply get up and get a job, they too can join the game. However, this idea ignores the fact that jobs require transportation and child care, neither of which is always readily available to teenage mothers.

Public transportation is not always an option and child care is extremely expensive. Even with welfare programs that fund child care for low-income parents, there is still the issue of getting a job. Since these programs are based on income, if one is fortunate enough to get a job that pays a decent amount, benefits immediately go down or entirely disappear.

There is no gray area; a teenage parent (or low-income individual in general) is either a “welfare queen” or self-sufficient. Extremely stringent requirements may even force individuals that just barely escape the level of poverty required for welfare to be self-sufficient, even when their need is dire.

From both personal and academic experience, I can speak to the desire of young parents to better themselves. There is nearly always a desire for a better life, for advanced education, for anything that can lend itself to a more stable, happy life for themselves and their children. That desire is blocked for many by systemic inequalities and hurtful stigma.

I was one of the lucky ones – I have been able to grow from a pregnant 17-year-old on welfare who barely graduated high school to a 23-year-old parent set to receive a bachelor’s degree in the spring. However, so many parents in my situation will not be afforded those opportunities even though they are just as deserving as I am of a better life.

Teenage parents are not the enemy and they deserve the same opportunities to achieve their dreams as everyone else. They deserve understanding, support and the option to go out in public with their children without fear of snide remarks and withering stares. Being a teenage parent is surely not the best thing that can happen to someone, but that does not mean teenage parents should be demonized. The playing field should be level, but we should also recognize that players do not come into the game with all the same skills.

Katie Waldron is a Collegian columnist, and can be reached at Kwaldron@umass.edu.

Comments
2 Responses to “Teenage parents are not the enemies”
  1. Rob says:

    I don’t understand your point about the level playing field. Is the field not level because you didn’t get enough free stuff? And how is it the middle class’ fault that you and the baby’s father couldn’t afford to have a child?

  2. Andrew says:

    Rob,
    You missed the point of the article. Try reading the article again and take some time to think about it.

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