This weekend, an article appeared in the PNJ that hit home with many of our Moms. The nineteen year-old who gave birth to a stillborn child and then buried him in the woods near her home has generated a good bit of talk at our Momslikeme website.
There are some who feel little sympathy for the young woman.
"Sorry but at her age she knew she could have gone to the hospital or done more then sit in the woods and have a baby and then leave it there for the dogs."
"I got pregnant when I was 21, only 2 years older than her... so that's no excuse."
Others use words like "heartbreaking" to describe the plight of the 19 year-old, and offer a more compassionate and empathetic viewpoint.
"We all panic ya know."
While some see "right and wrong" as being in very black and white terms, others view them in a variety of shades of gray. When it comes to opinions, everyone has them, and most people probably believe that theirs is the right one, so arguing the point either way won't make much difference. And, regardless of the opinions of a group of moms on a website, what is done is done.
However you choose to view the actions of a young mother giving birth alone outside of her parents home, I would hope that awareness of this situation would lead each of us to work harder to foster open lines of communication with our children. Teenagers need rules, they need black and white guidelines, but they also need an open door to come to us for guidance when they get into those gray areas.
"They KNOW they can come to me with anything. . ." you may think.
What if they think whatever kerfluffle they've gotten themselves into is too awful to share with their parents? Every teenager has secrets, things that they believe Mom and Dad "wouldn't understand." In the process of growing up and becoming an independent young adult that privacy is sometimes somewhat necessary. But there are also times when a teenager can get in over their head and feel they've nowhere to turn.
That's why I offer my children this out: "I hope that you feel that you can come to me with anything. I will do my best not to judge you, but it is also my job to guide you, so don't expect me to like what you have to tell me. If you ever feel like you are over your head, and can't bring yourself to talk to me about it, remember that you have grandparents, aunts and uncles, adult family friends who love you and will help you. You are never alone."
Lucky me, mine seem to feel free to come to me with all variety of craziness. We've already had to navigate a few hum-dingers around here as it is. . .but so far, we've managed to come through it all okay. It's not easy to let-go of your parental view of the way things "should" be, but it's a lot better to help guide them through an imperfect situation than to beat yourself up later with "if only I had known."
I don't know anything more about the mother of "Baby Milton" than I've read in the News Journal. But I DO know what it feels like to be pregnant at 19, scared, insecure, embarrassed. I was fortunate to have had a great deal of support and love from my family and my extended family. I knew that I had people I could go to who loved me unconditionally and would help me make good choices. I don't know that her family's support could have made any difference in the outcome of this situation, but I hope that I can make a difference when it comes to my own kids and their lives.
After all, the desired end here is NOT to raise a bunch of mini-mes. I'm just hoping to grow them up with enough guilt about all the gray they've given me (gray hairs, that is!) that they set me up nicely. So far, I figure I'm looking at a lovely condo on the beach. . .with my own cabana boy. . .and yes, I'll make room for my own parents, too.
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