teen moms and taxes

The putridness of  filing my taxes** and the beauty of rediscovering how much I love Treats by Sleigh Bells are working to neutralize each other. I am left feeling pretty meh, trying not to dwell on the things I haven’t done, Mostly practice the ukelele and wash my feet after an excursion around Paradise Pond (well the path next to the river that runs into it… what is the name of that river??) with my first MOM FRIEND!! i feel creepy saying her name and stuff on the internet but her baby is about a month younger than Jolene and she is a couple of years younger than me! we are rocking the 18-22 age demographic in our mama group. just us just us.

Speaking of which! One of the best workshops i went to at CLPP this weekend was called Teen Families Take the Lead. We missed the first half of the panelists, but the last two were kids whose mumma had them when she was 17 and 18. Here were two awesome, smart, well spoken, stylish, and totally confident teenagers who had been raised by, well a teenager (then she was in her 20s etc).

Another panelists was this rad sociologist named Gretchen Sisson who brought up this idea of eliminating the phrase “teen pregnancy prevention.” Instead of giving teens inadequate sex education, and declaring that they have ruined their lives when they become pregnant, we could maybe empower teens with comprehensive sex education and paths besides getting pregnant early in life. I am starting to think that teen pregnancy is mostly a problem when teens don’t feel like they don’t have anywhere else to go in life or feel lonely and think a child is the cure. Teens kinda have the right to make their own (informed) fertility choices. We pretend that wanting to get pregnant as a teenager is absurd/ unnatural, completely ignoring that in many parts of the world (and in the past in this country) being a teen mom is the norm.

The same sociologist was on the panel for my Friday afternoon workshop, Exploring The Social, Political and Economic Context of Building and Supporting Families, talking about her doctorate research on birth mothers. This is where something kind of clicked. Although adoption statistics are patchy, it seems that white, class privileged women place their children with adoptive families at much higher rates than women of color or low income women.  Sisson hypothesized that this is so because rates of single and or young mothers are lower in these communities. There just aren’t many examples around of women raising children on their own or at a young age, so it isn’t seen as an option.

I had sort of forgotten about this point until the Speak Out (which was incredible and Jolene did cry a little and I was super embarrassed but I think it was okay). First off I want to say that every woman who stood up in front of that group was crazy brave and I have just infinite respect. I mean that so earnestly. But again and again I heard women justify their abortions with “I wanted to go to college,” and “I didn’t know the father.” I don’t believe that people who have had abortions should have to “justify” it to anyone, but isn’t it interesting that these are the reasons that women gave, instad of simply “I did not want to carry my pregnancy to term.”

What I’m trying to say is that it seems really important to de-stigmatize and support young families and single parents. Otherwise abortion isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity.

**I wrote this on Monday so don’t worry, my taxes are done-zies!


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