I began writing a column about learning from your past mistakes but my mind started to wander and a memory of a family I knew over twenty years ago came to mind. I didn’t know them well but the mother was a work acquaintance.
The son, always a polite young man, was quite striking in his appearance and very athletic. He dreamed of playing professional sports and travelling the world. Focused and driven, he was on track until he and his girlfriend got pregnant.
I remember the boy’s mother was devastated by the news. Something that should be such a joyous occasion brought tears of resignation. Nothing for this family would be the same ever again. There was no escaping it — the two high school students were having a baby and my friend was going to be a grandmother.
I remember thinking that those two didn’t know what they were in for. With a baby, they’re forever linked through life and though the notion of babies and playing house sounds romantic, reality rears its ugly head pretty quickly.
The relationship between the teens survived for a while but fell apart shortly after the baby was born. The teen mom went onto social assistance while the young man returned to his mother’s home and back to his pursuing his dreams.
So, life goes on. Until about a year later the young man and woman reconcile and yup, you guessed it, babe number two was on the way. The couple learned absolutely nothing from the first go-round so they ended up in the same predicament with the same outcome. He left town again and now there were two babes without a dad.
I felt bad for his mother. She was embarrassed as her son made choices and seemed oblivious that they affected others around him. He wasn’t ready to be a father for the second time any more than he was the first time.
She found it difficult to maintain a relationship with the baby’s mom in her son’s absence as the blame game always came into play. The young mom needed help — physically, emotionally, and financially. She ended up moving back in with her parents and my friend, the ‘other’ grandma, didn’t push for a relationship with her grandchildren. She never forgot them but it was like she gave up. The situation from every single angle is extremely sad.
What’s even sadder is it happened a third time. Yes, you read that correctly. The young man returned to town and babe number three followed relatively soon. The irresponsible behaviour of both these young people is deplorable and selfish.
They now have network reality shows like Teen Mom that focus on the relationships of such young people. The drama is there for all to see and hopefully, teens will be appalled and make wiser choices. These shows are popular and pathetic but one good thing is that it’s all recorded for posterity so the teens involved can watch later and see how immature and self-centred they were.
There is a shared responsibility in relationships. I’m a realist. I know young people have sex but I want them to do it safely and smartly. It’s not just the responsibility of the girl to be on birth control, a young man also needs to be prepared because the affected people go beyond the couple and the consequences are life-changing.
I have no idea what happened with the family I knew so many years ago. Perhaps the young couple eventually stayed together or had ten more babies, idk. Those babies would now be in their late teens to early twenties and old enough to make their own mistakes. I hope they learned something from their parents.
I wouldn’t refer to the birth of any child as a mistake — it’s a blessing — but in this day and age (as it was also 20 years ago) there is no excuse for an unplanned pregnancy. Learn from that or you’re doomed to repeat it. The cause and effect are easily predictable. Be smart.
Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached through her website at http://www.fayeearcand.com.
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