November 25, 2008


So, I clicked on the Tyra Banks Show to see what topics were being dealt with. Something about PLANNED teenage pregnancies (a la Gloucester, Massachusetts). One teenage girl in the panel planned to get pregnant by her boyfriend (without telling him)--by using NFP. When she was six months pregnant, she told him, and he was irate. (Her whole plan--as old as the hills--was that he would stick around forever.) He did not. (Why does this young woman need a forever boyfriend at age 16? Did she want to marry him? Does she truly want to be a mother right now or was the baby just a tool of entrapment? Can we see why teen sex is a bad idea? Our brains aren't fully formed till their early 20's--especially the decision-making/consequence part of the brain. There's science to prove this. So why, then, are we fertile in our teens? Perhaps God is trying to tell us that we SHOULD be more or less rapidly moving toward maturity in our teens, instead of prolonging adolescence through our late 20's. How many of our grandparents were married and beginning families in their teens?)
In the audience was the young woman's mother holding Nate, the teen's extremely adorable, extremely bald baby boy. Tyra began interrogating the mother who looked, talked, and dressed very sensibly (that is, "older" than her daughter). Tyra wanted to know if Mom approved of her daughter's actions. Mom said: "I didn't know she was having sex. When I found out she was pregnant, I was very upset." Then Tyra got exasperated. She said: "You know, everyone is horrified when a teen gets pregnant, but then when the baby is born, it's all, like, 'Awwwww, isn't the baby cute?.....'" Tyra was upset by this "conflict." (At least she could see the conflict here, and it actually bothered her that something wasn't making sense. For soft relativists, certain things ARE taboo--for the moment, anyway. The most obvious option, abortion, was never mentioned either because the producers think it's too ugly for a such a pretty show and everyone was clued in not to talk about it, or Tyra herself might be anti-abortion.) Tyra posed the question--aren't we sending the wrong message? Once the baby's born, it's OK. Does that mean teen girls should go on having MORE babies?
No mention of HOW babies come to be, because teen sex, of course, is totally legit. Tyra and Mom were talking about the teenager like she wasn't sitting right there (maybe this is part of this teen's problem?) Mom said she didn't want to "kick her daughter out of the house," (couldn't Mom think of any other alternatives?) but she laid down an ultimatum: If her daughter continues having sex, she'll kick her out of the house (it wasn't clear if Nate would land on his diapers on the sidewalk also).
Tyra: "Well, that's very unrealistic, isn't it?" (Heaven forbid! Once we start doing something, we can't possibly STOP, now can we? And we can't possibly tell teens NOT to have sex, even after they have a baby they're not going to raise themselves. We can't possibly say "no" to any one about anything, can we? Because we have absolute freedom, right? Teens will be animals, won't they? I mean, that's what all the teen flicks show us, right? I remember one teenage girl in a newspaper article saying: "Will adults please stop treating us like we have no self control? We're teenagers, not animals.")
BUT the teen (a very sweet, almost shy-looking girl) is continuing to have sex. Tyra: "So, now what?" Mom: "Well, I bent the rules to: 'If you get PREGNANT again, you're out of the house.'"

Sigh. Relativism is just so confusing, isn't it? Nothing stays the same, gosh darn it! Just when you lay down a principle, you HAVE to change it!


  1. Heather8:56 PM

    I'm currently a (young) teacher at a public girls' school where I would say 95% of the students could be labeled 'at-risk'. Just in my classes alone, I have girls whose parents have mental illness and/or serious addictions, girls who are mentally ill themselves, girls who are selling themselves for cigarettes and pocket change...girls with learning disabilities... girls whose fathers have pimped them out....and the list goes on. I would say without hesitation that the average literacy level for my highschoolers hovers around 4-6th grade.

    6 years ago (when I graduated from this school) it was one of the top schools in the province.

    We now have an expectant mothers group, because yes, there are just that many, and no, they didn't know how to take basic care of themselves. Very few of these pregnancies, if any, are unplanned. We all know what they are looking for--not boys or babies, but unconditional love.

    Anyway, I guess my question for you is...(and please don't take offense--I don't know anything about anything when it comes to theology) is this. Is teaching abstinence, and not providing healthcare and birth control really the answer to ending teen pregnancy? Is my saying 'I care about you enough to tell you not to do it' really going to change their mind when everything and everyone around them is telling them the opposite?

    I just don't know...sure...birth control is available to them free of charge and anonymously, but like I mentioned...none of these pregnancies are unplanned. But how many more would happen if there weren't those resources...

    Yeah..none of these teens should be having sex. That's a no brainer... I don't know anyone who thinks they should, but what's the answer to stopping it?

    Now that the sarcasm is out of your system, do you have any advice for this humble English teacher? :P

  2. Dear Heather,
    Thanks for sharing your situation with me. I am not usually sarcastic, but as I use the tons of media that I use, in silence, at some point, I just burst. Part of me believes that, for the sake of ratings, people who just might "know better," hide the truths they know and just stir things up in an inconclusive, amoral way. This is my biggest frustration. I don't fault the teen on Tyra's show, necessarily, I'm thinking more of the adults. I was also at a recent day-long seminar on bio-ethics with the always wry and brilliant Peter Kreeft, so I think I got a little influenced. May I ask what province you're in? I lived in Toronto for 8 yrs and am a dual citizen.
    The situation of the girls you teach is truly pitiful. Is someone reporting on the criminal activity of the dad-pimps?? The picture you paint is very dire. As far as the tired mechanics of "more birth control, less pregnancies/births, except for those preganancies/births that happen because the teenager forgot to take her birth control or got caught up in the heat of the moment or the birth control failed [life is persistent]," there's just no sure-fire birth control except abstinence, so even one little pregnancy or birth messes up everything, and it's as though she had never taken birth control in the first place. And then the decision of to abort or not enters in (as back-up birth control). And before the young woman knows it, she's going places she never intended to go. Birth control is kind of self-negating as a solution. It's a non-solution.
    It doesn't bring them the love they're looking for (it only encourages them to keep looking for it in the wrong places, or rather in the wrong way). On the part of adults providing it, it seems like a cop-out: "we've given up on you, so here, at least do this." I get so angry that "someone" isn't helping these young women avoid all this pain and heartbreak. I agree with you that teen sex/pregnancies/births are a crisis of LOVE (they want unconditional love) for the most part. All of this is so easy for me to say from my little laptop, however, as the Bible says, "Without a vision, the people die." I believe the vision that's needed here is the "Theology of the Body." Even if they don't see it lived anywhere around them (but they must see scraps), it can be proposed to them, and if it sounds better than everything else they've been offered, maybe, just maybe, they'll spring for it. So, Heather, you have challenged me, and I'm going to prepare a video presentation that presents this vision to "at-risk" teens. That's all an armchair philosopher like me can do. But at least it's something. Thank you for your challenge. If you want to give me an email or cell #, I'll let you know when it's completed (I'll post it on my blog, too.) It'll be a few months. God bless. Sr. Helena