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16 and Pregnant

News Flash: Sixteen-year-old teen Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant. Spears, the sister to Britney and "Zoey 101" star, told OK! Magazine that she plans to raise the baby. "I put myself in this position, an adult position, so I have to act like an adult and take responsibility for what I did," Spears said.

Okay, so by now, this one is no news flash. But the ruckus that one celebrity teenager can stir is intriguing. It puts a name on a growing trend -- that's conveniently airing in movie theaters as well in the film "Juno." Earlier this month, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that the birth rate among 15- to 19-year old girls rose 3 percent between 2005 and 2006. Between 1991 and 2005, the birth rate dropped a significant 34 percent. In real numbers, that means that there were 41.9 births per 1,000 girls in 2006. That's still quite less than the all-time high in 1991 of 61.8 births per 1,000 girls.

And 14 states have no intention of requesting federal government funds for "abstinence-only" education programs. Another two have said that they've applied for the money with stipulations that it be used for "comprehensive sex education." "The jump in states opting out follows a series of reports questioning the effectiveness of the approach, including one commissioned by Congress that was released earlier this year," Rob Stein wrote recently in The Washington Post.

How do we effectively combat teen pregnancy? Is it all about how and what we teach our kids at home? Is sex ed at school helping or failing our children?

For one take on how Spears' pregnancy will resonate with teen girls, read Style's "The Other Spears Does the Bump."

By Stacey Garfinkle |  December 20, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Teens
Previous: The Start of a College Trend? | Next: A Little Holiday Cheer

Comments


I'll refrain from making jokes about Kentwood, Louisiana, which is not too far from where I went to high school and college (at least the undergrad part). Teen pregnancy levels have always been high there, and a number of my high school and college friends became very familiar with the term "shotgun wedding."

This was a "teachable moment" in the ArmyBrat household. We had a long talk with the three teenagers (college freshman, high school junior and sophomore). We focused on a number of things, including:
- the impact this is going to have on the rest of her life, and in what ways
- why we as parents have always been concerned about their behavior, their friends, who they're hanging out with, etc.
- that it's not okay to just jump into no-strings-attached sex because you think it will feel good, or somebody wants you to, or you're being ostracized because you don't. There are significant ramifications to teenaged sexual behavior - physical (STD as well as pregnancy), emotional, social - and they need to understand them
- that they need to understand how both male and female bodies work. The thing that struck me over and over is how both Jamie Lynn and Casey Aldridge, the father, stated that this came as a complete shock. This causes me to believe that they don't have the foggiest notion about how sex, pregnancy, fertility, contraception, etc. They just know that if you do this, it feels good; and yeah it's sort of possible to get pregnant this way. I suspect that a strong dose of sex education there - and I'm including things like women's fertility cycles as well as the basics of contraception - was in order.
- that at least Jamie Lynn Spears is doing the right thing by taking responsibility for her actions. Yes, it's a little late for that; and yes, her family is sufficiently wealthy that they can afford a lot of advantages, but you still have to step up.
- that the Spears parents DID NOT step up to the plate and do the right things with and for their daughters, and this is what you get. This came back to that part about parental involvement.

The discussion later on with the 11-year old, who is a huge Zoey 101 fan, featured less technical detail, but the basics were the same.

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 7:45 AM | Report abuse

The Spears incident will not help combat teen pregnancy for many reasons - one of them being, exactly why is she on the cover of a magazine discussing her pregnancy? Sharing details about her relationship with the teenage father?

Because she is being exploited by her family, the way her sister was exploited at a young age and is having her psychological breakdown in front of us.

I applaud J.L. Spears for her decision to have her child. However, supporting a teenager's decision to have the baby does not mean that I support announcing it on a magazine cover and chatting about how great her boyfriend is.

What ever happened to shame? Shouldn't she be ashamed of her actions, including sex at age 16? Shouldn't she not want to broadcast that to the world?

It's only being broadcast because it is explotative and thus financially lucrative to do so. Her mother and/or father are likely making money off her sad situation. They should have offered her protection and privacy, but that is something the Spears family sold off long ago.

Posted by: Amelia | December 20, 2007 7:50 AM | Report abuse

I am all for sex ed and actually for dispensing BC in public schools. But to be honest, I only think that helps so much. Part of the problem with teenage sexuality and lack of responsibility is that they can learn all the technical details but still think it won't happen to them. They can learn about a women's cycle, medical BC and emotional impact of sex outside of a committed adult relationship. But kids do not believe that they will A) get pregnant (that happens to other people), B) get a STD (expecially not a life threatening STD like aids), or C) that this might affect their emotional well being well into their adulthood. Again these are people who think 25 is ancient and really can't grasp life beyone age 20. I am not really sure what the answer is. I know a start is to have open communication with your children about their bodies, hormones, feelings, and consequences of sexual activity. The other thing is keep your kids involved and committed to things that are healthy (sports, music, art, drama, academics, community involvement). But mostly it seems luck of the draw. Kids have sex because it feels good and it is popular. I don't know when I was 16 no one was exactly pounding down my door to have sex with me. I know that it can make me have an appearance of being a "good " girl in reality, it wasn't like I had options. Who knew what would happen if I had a body like Jamie Lynn at 16 (heck at any age). Talk, talk, talk to your kids. But at some point, they go out into the world and make their own choices. At that point, all you can do is hold your breath, pray, and be there for them if they need you.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Teenagers have sex. This is a reality that we need to acknowledge and accept in our society. However, this does not mean that teenagers have to get pregnant and contract STIs at the high rates that US teens regularly do. Much of the rest of the industrialized world has real sex education, and there is open communication about sex within families. This allows the parents to effectively support healthy sexual behavior, which results in dramatically lower teen pregnancies and STIs.

I feel for Jamie Lynn. Lots of teenagers get pregnant, but her pregnancy is going to be latched on to and railed against. If we want to talk about teen pregnancy, I'm all for that. I talk about teen pregnancy all the time (http://www.karenrayne.com). But let's leave Jamie Lynn out of the conversation, and rather focus on the 750,000 or so other teenagers who get pregnant every year in this country.

Posted by: Karen Rayne | December 20, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

I don't care what's going on in the homes of the lives of the rich and infamous. They've got money, opportunity, and no excuses. They're making stupid choices, and it's their children who will suffer. I wish there was a way to express how little I care about Jamie Spears and her pregnancy, though I am disgusted. Obviously on her way to stardom, she skipped a couple of important health classes. Hello, birth control? It's not like she can't afford it.

I do care, though, about the fact that 70% of african american babies are born out of wedlock. This is a real problem.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | December 20, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

foamgnome, I mostly agree with what you write, but I think you're being WAY too negative in one aspect. I don't think it comes down to "luck of the draw", at all. Yes, it's possible that parents could have done almost everything right and still have a teen get pregnant/get someone pregnant/get an STD, just as you can have irresponsible, non-involved parents somehow produce a wonderful kid. But from remembering my own teenaged days, and from watching the behavior around my teenagers now, there's a very high correlation between parental involvement/teaching and adolescent behavior.

In some cases I've known that certain girls - in the softball program I run, acquaintances of my kids or daughters of my acquaintances - were sexually active, using drugs, alcohol, etc. In almost every case I can also see parents who quit caring, don't supervise, engage in the same types of behavior (married parents having affairs, or single parents having the boyfriend/girlfriend sleep over). In other cases the parents themselves exhibited the right behaviors, but didn't monitor the peer pressure - who are your friends; what are your friends doing, etc. It's not that random; there's a correlation there.

(I can't really address boys; I don't coach them or get involved with them other than when my son is hanging out with his friends. And I've heard the boasts, but remember that teenaged boys like to brag a lot, so I'm not sure what's really going on. But I suspect it's not much different than for the girls - parental involvement/positive role model/monitoring peer pressure is strongly correlated with behavior.)

Re: learning all the technical stuff, like how to tell when a woman is ovulating, etc. - I'm not sure teens learn that much detail. Heck, my wife claims that most adult women don't know that much about their cycles. Those of us who read "On Balance" frequently have seen our blogger-in-chief, Leslie Morgan Steiner, say repeatedly that as a Harvard student she had no idea how the heck things worked, other than "insert tab A into slot B".

(My one concern is that a number of my friends assert through anecdotal evidence that "good kids" who don't indulge in teenaged sex, drinking and drug use often try to compensate for it as young adults. I suppose that's certainly possible, but then again if they're going to experiment sometime I'd rather they do it as adults.)

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Karen: "Teenagers have sex. This is a reality that we need to acknowledge and accept in our society."

Yes, this is true, but we don't have to glamorize it, glorify it, tell kids it's "cool", support it, or pretend that it's "right" and "okay."

Teenagers do lots of things, because they're developing and learning and growing and challenging authority. Teenagers drink. Teenagers drink and drive, and die in the resulting crashes. Teenagers experiment with drugs, prescription and illegal. Teenagers shoplift because their friends dare them to.

All of these, we have to acknowledge as something that does and will continue to occur, but we don't have to pretend that it's the right thing to do.

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 8:31 AM | Report abuse

(My one concern is that a number of my friends assert through anecdotal evidence that "good kids" who don't indulge in teenaged sex, drinking and drug use often try to compensate for it as young adults. I suppose that's certainly possible, but then again if they're going to experiment sometime I'd rather they do it as adults.)

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 08:22 AM

For what it's worth, it's not necessarily that "good kids" go bonkers when they are finally away from the parents. It's the ones who weren't given the opportunities for increasing responsibilities AND a gradual loosening of the reins of parental control.

I saw far too many ministers & rabbis sons & daughters in waaaaayy too many "compromising" positions during college. The ones who did talk, were pretty open that they tended to have autocratic parents.

I hope everyone is enjoying their hoiday season. See you all in the new year.

Maryland Mother

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Army Brat -- we do not need to glamorize teen sex. We can't pretend it doesn't happen and we should teach the consequences - the physical and emotional ones. A friend is a MIDDLE school counselor and I was gobsmacked that middle schoolers engage in sexual behaviors. The young girls think it will make them "cool" and then are surprised when it gets them a certain reputation instead.

Posted by: tntkate | December 20, 2007 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Army Brat, I suppose I do think it is okay for some teenagers to have sex. Older ones, who do it responsibly, in mutually-supportive relationships.

However, I agree we shouldn't glamorize or glorify it. So just as we should not give a blanket acceptance to all teenage sex, nor should we condemn all teenage sex.

Sex is a nuanced issue, and we need to both think of it and talk of it as such with our teenagers.

Posted by: Karen Rayne | December 20, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

"What ever happened to shame? Shouldn't she be ashamed of her actions, including sex at age 16? "

And it is this religion-based shame that prevents teens from buying condoms. They still have sex but they are too ashamed to try and be responsible.

She's reaping what she sowed.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

(Geez louise, I gotta get off this blog and get some work done. :-)

tntkate, re middle schoolers and sex: it's more prevalent than many realize. Four years ago, when oldest DD was a Freshman in high school, there was an incident where another Freshman girl claimed that three boys raped her in a boys' bathroom in school. The three were arrested; it was a sensational story spread all over the news. Oldest DD was in the chorus, which was on a trip to a contest in another state. DW was chaperoning. I tried to call them to warn them what was happening, in case they started to hear the news. Of course, with text messaging and the like, they already knew all the details, including the names of all four students. And DD and her friends all said the same thing. That couldn't have been rape; the girl in question hadn't said no to a boy yet. It seems that she used to perform oral sex on boys on the school bus to and from seventh grade. She had years of sexual activity before this incident, and everybody knew it.

(And of course it all came out that it wasn't rape at all; everything that happened in the restroom was entirely consensual. What happened was that somebody else walked into the restroom during the events; he was invited to join but declined and left, and the girl panicked. She was afraid that her "boyfriend" and parents were going to find out; in her state of panic she figured crying "rape" was her safest bet. It wasn't.)

So yes, there are sexually active middle schoolers, and we acknowledge that and deal with it, but it isn't right and we don't glorify it.

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I am all for sex education that includes lessons on BC and STIs. These conversations need to happen over and over again and should serve to compliment the running dialog that should be happening at home. I am amazed by the number of Parents who tell me that there kids don't know anything about sex. Kids start talking to each other at a very young age and there is a lot of misinformation being shared on the playground. A few weeks ago I overheard a conversation on my daughter's playground between 4th and 5th grade girls and boys. If schoolyard gossip about it starts that young, you are a fool to believe the experimenting is going to be far off. Parents need to be realistic. I don't like that I have to discuss sex with my 9 year old, but if I don't some other 9 year old will-and who would I rather she be talking to?

Posted by: Momof5 | December 20, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Karen: "Army Brat, I suppose I do think it is okay for some teenagers to have sex. Older ones, who do it responsibly, in mutually-supportive relationships."

If you're defining "older" as out of high school, almost-20. If you're talking about 18 or 19 year old college students, or people in military service, or... then okay, MAYBE this is tolerable. Maybe they know enough to sort-of know what they're doing. After all, we let them vote in Presidential elections; we let them serve their country, yeah, maybe they're responsible.

And I do realize that different people mature at different rates, which makes it hard to justify an absolute chronological cut-off, but I believe that anybody below 18, anybody still in high school, isn't sufficiently mature to understand what's going on and be involved in mature, "mutually-supportive relationships" and they're too young to be having sex. Period.

IMNSHO.

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Posted by WorkingMomX @ December 20, 2007 08:14 AM:

"I do care, though, about the fact that 70% of african american babies are born out of wedlock. This is a real problem."

This is a particularly salient point, and also a problem for other minorities disproportionate to the caucasian population. There is data to support that this is a kind of viscious cycle where parenting skills (or lack thereof) are passed down from generation to generation and thus the cycle of pregnancy does as well.

Another angle I think has to be our cultural crossed wires regarding young people. On one hand, we create idols of childhood out of our children long after they stop being kids so the way they learn adult responsibilities is the hard way in an uncontrolled environment. On the other hand we hypersexualize children early and expose them to violence in the media and in youth culture.

My tendancy is to think, regardless of the cause, ArmyBrat probably has the eye on the ball when it comes to "teaching moments." Or, perhaps to synthesize what Karen Rayne said in that context, we cannot control our sons and daughters every second of their lives so we need to find ways of equipping them with the knowledge they need to make the right decisions when we are not there.

Posted by: David S | December 20, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

ArmyBrat, could not agree more about under 18s having sex. Another thing I'd like to talk about is how parents who are not particularly religious handle this. I was raised Catholic and so my parents could easily fall back on the "it's a sin" concept about sex before marriage. Definitely cut and dry. My husband and I are Unitarian. It's more difficult, I think, to explain how you need to be mature, responsible, etc., before having sex with someone.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | December 20, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to agree that there should be a sense of shame for a teen. She shouldn't be cast out of her community, but she shouldn't have the whole thing glamorized either. Just wait, there will be the inevitable cover story about Jamie Lynn's baby shower where she has a big party and gets cute $50 onesies with ironic sayings on them. We will see the beautiful nursery on and on and on. It would be nice to juxtapose this story with the teen in subsidized housing living in a small bedroom with her baby and no future.

Posted by: Moxiemom | December 20, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Trailer trash, not worth time talking about.

Posted by: Extraordinary Rendition | December 20, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

ArmyBrat: Sure there is a correlation but like you said good parents can raise kids who make bad choices. I honestly, don't think it is a bad thing to teach kids about ovulation and procreation. I just don't see that as preventing teenage pregnancy. Kids are very well aware that drinking and driving can lead to fatal accidents. Still happens every day because kids do not believe that it can happen to them. Case in point, Jaime Lynne says she was shocked. Why the heck are you shocked that you can pregnant with unprotected sex? Because she believed it wasn't going to happen to them. It is a lot like Karen said (I think it was Karen) about kids and juvenile crimes. Their immature brains can't really fathom the consequences happening to them. I am not saying bury your head in the sand and pray it doesn't happen to your kids. But it isn't just about sex ed and open dialogue. It has to be about other things (keeping kids involved in healthy activities) and frankly I think a lot of kids not getting involved sexually are because no one wants to have sex with them. I don't think it is because the 6/7 kids are actively making wise choices. Thank god for the unpopular. But let's call it what it is. And yes, good parents can have kids who make bad choices. It is really sad. I can't see how to avoid that with my own kid.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I don't think there's much to write that Army Brat hasn't already said, but I will reiterate Army Brat's comment that just beause things happen in our society that we might need to accept doesn't mean that we have to glamorize it. The fact is that what happened is a private and family matter; it doesn't need to be a "how I spent my vacation" essay for the world to read; some people do things that aren't write and hopefully others learn from those mistakes. It's one thing noting it; it's another thing glamorizing it, as the Spears family seems to be doing.

Posted by: Dungarees | December 20, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I am actually not big on the shame aspect. What benefit comes for making someone feel bad about not using BC? How is this going to make JL feel better about her very difficult choices or the child? Also let's be real, kids aren't the only ones having surprise kids. Heck I know 30-40 year old professionals having surpise babies. I think a lot of 3 kids are surprises (not all but a lot are). The big difference are adults are able to handle the consequences better then kids. It is not about how morally wrong it is to have sex as a teen. Some may think it is morally wrong to have sex outside of marriage. But then it should be wrong if your 15 or 35 (outside of marriage). Sex is a lot about hormones, the moment, and lapse judgment and adults are not immune to those same choices. Don't glorify it but don't crucify these kids either. It doesn't help anyone.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

After they brought this up to us, we discussed this with our college sophomore, and college graduate.

We all agreed that it was a shame for the child. Our daughters could not imagine being able to have a child at 16.

If there is anything positive, it is that they can learn from other's very public misstpes.

Glad to see Ma Spears' book deal got cancelled, too.

Posted by: anon for now | December 20, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

When I was 15, a girl in my freshman class got pregnant (white upper class public school in New England, circa 1991) and that caused me to think alot about sex, bodies, parenting, etc.
(note: hadn't even kissed a guy outside of a spin the bottle game at that point)

I concluded that if it had happened to me, my body was mature enough to have a baby, and that I was mature enough to raise a baby but that maybe I wouldn't want to give up my other activities.

I am now 31. I am still probably not mature enough to raise a baby. Good grief. But at 15, I was most definitely a young adult and woman enough to take responsibility for my actions. HA!

Kids. What will they think of next?

Posted by: cc | December 20, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Shame:

I maintain that we should go back to feeling shameful about behaviors that should not have occured, and are STILL occuring in that very family - the Spears.

They should ALL be ashamed of themselves - the teenage mother , the teenage father, and BOTH sets of grandparents.

They should NOT be on magazine covers sharing the details of their relationship...details which, when I was age 16, likely would have significantly changed from the date of the interview to the date of publication, and back again or onto another guy who suddenly looks MUCH cuter than he did when I sat next to him in 9th grade.

Both families should have offered JL protection and privacy, not photo shoots and cutesy magazine stories.

They are all endorsing the behavior and the pregnancy b/c it makes them money. Understandable, perhaps, for the amoral media, but unforgivable on the part of JL and what's his name's parents.

Posted by: Amelia | December 20, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I for one don't want to see this gal on Nickoleodon TV.

It is not the kind of behavior to hold up to celebrity.

Posted by: RoseG | December 20, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I wonder what the attitudes would have been if the headlines were "JLS went shopping in Paris -- for an abortion!". Yeah, too bad she got pregnant before she was ready. Good thing she has money to take care of the baby. Next item?

CC -- few people are actually mature enough to raise a baby. The arrival sort of helps that along, imo. I changed OVERNIGHT. In mostly good ways. ;)

Posted by: anon | December 20, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Where is On Balance, today?? Anyone know?

Posted by: Mehitabel | December 20, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Something I found out when I was pregnant at 21 (but a college graduate and almost married), was that a large number of people you would never have expected had gotten pregnant. The truth about pregnancy in the white upper-middle class is under lock and key. These are people with the means to make things go away quitely when need be - and their kids know it. I got pregnant on the pill and thought I was the only one... friends starting letting me know "ya that happend to me too"... Like with so many other issues, girls feel like its not going to happen to them partly because it seems like there are no consequences for anyone else. So there needs to be honesty on the subject when it comes to educating young women.

Also, all of this "disappointment" rhetoric is so out of line. Let's give her a chance to be a good mother first.

Posted by: JenniJ | December 20, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

"CC -- few people are actually mature enough to raise a baby. The arrival sort of helps that along, imo. I changed OVERNIGHT. In mostly good ways. ;)"

How old was Mary when Jesus was born?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

not to advocate for or against this one way or another but I have known three teens that got pregnant before turning 18. Two had the baby. The third (in my opinion)is happier than the other two. I just don't think you can discuss teen pregnancy without acknowledging that a great deal of them end up this way...my question is - as a parent - if it happened to your daughter and she wanted to terminate - do you support (talk with them about that choice/drive them to planned parenthood/pay for it) or do you forbid?

Posted by: anonymous | December 20, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I want OB too. The bible is not specific to Mary's age. It simply says a young women but most theologians would date her age to be around 12-13. Of course people died fairly young too back then.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Punished? Hardly! Shame, You must be joking!

It seems that she's keeping the baby for oh lets say 1 million rea$on$. Like other 'celebretards' she has signed an exclusive deal for pictures of the baby's birth.

Pregnant is one thing but to exploit that deed for monetary gain is a bigger sin.

Posted by: NickFromVA | December 20, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

"If you're defining "older" as out of high school, almost-20. If you're talking about 18 or 19 year old college students, or people in military service, or... then okay, MAYBE this is tolerable. Maybe they know enough to sort-of know what they're doing. "

--*rolls eyes* What do you mean MAYBE an 18 or 19 year old is old enough to have sex? (Even those still in high school.) Of course they are old enough to have sex and have babies if they choose. They are a *explicit* adult at that age. If they can serve our country, vote, sign legal binding documents, they definetely have a right to engage in sexual intercourse. So make up your mind-are they adults at 18 or still in diapers?

Posted by: Soguns1 | December 20, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Army Brat, I am shocked and amazed by your complete and total grasp of common sense! Seriously, there seems to be such a lack of it when the topic of 'sex education' comes up. It is so much more than just the biology (insert tab A into slot B) that needs to be taught, and it really is up to the parents to take the lead on this with their children.

Posted by: MLuther | December 20, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

"If you're defining "older" as out of high school, almost-20. If you're talking about 18 or 19 year old college students, or people in military service, or... then okay, MAYBE this is tolerable. Maybe they know enough to sort-of know what they're doing. "

--*rolls eyes* What do you mean MAYBE an 18 or 19 year old is old enough to have sex? (Even those still in high school.) Of course they are old enough to have sex and have babies if they choose. They are a *explicit* adult at that age. If they can serve our country, vote, sign legal binding documents, they definetely have a right to engage in sexual intercourse. So make up your mind-are they adults at 18 or still in diapers?

Posted by: Soguns1 | December 20, 2007 09:55 AM

You got to remember to a lot of this crowd the only acceptable way to have kids is in your 30s after you have completed your college education , possibly graduate work, own a home and SUV, make a houshold income in the 6 figures, and have your kid via invitro fertilization. Yeah, nice take in life. Get real. 18 year olds are full fledged adults. And some of them are even married and supporting themselves and their families. Maybe not in the nicest home but doesn't make them bad people or bad parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Let me first agree that I think that Jamie Lynn and her sister Britney are two girls who got caught up in the sick perversion our society has toward/about celebrity. We would not even know who these girls were if they weren't so overexposed so young...and we (the royal "we", not the we as in each of us here in this forum) bought it. We watch it. We're online talking about it. We can talk about teen pregnancy all we want, but at the heart of this matter --as far as this family is concerned--is that our infuatuation, our obsession with being famous (or infamous)and those that are has ruined these two young women.

In the spirit of full disclosure, let me tell you that I gave birth to my first child at 17. I wasn't proud of the circumstances, but that's my story. People tried to shame me (especially at church). When I was told that I would need to apologize for my sin publicly to my church congregation, I aksed if my child's father would need to come with me. I was told no, that I was the only one required to, "because others can see your sin". What is that to tell a child who needs support and love in God's House? It was sexist and unfair. Thank God for my parents and other individuals who stepped up and helped me see my mistake (having unprotected sex outside of the the bounds of marriage), but also helped me become a good parent.

I didn't publicize my pregnancy; I tried to hide it because of what I thought people would think of me. Once it got "out", I can now say that I was blessed with the love and support of my family, friends, church family, and my school (an elite independent school in the Northeast). I was encouraged to continue my education--I have my MA and am applying to EdD programs. I found the love of my life while in undergrad , married him, and we have had two more children.

All of this is to say that while I don't recommend teenage pregnancy, it does happen. And when it does happen, we need to love and support our daughters (and sons) alike. There can be a light at the end of the tunnel for these tens--if we don't let it flicker out.

Posted by: 4us5 | December 20, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Soguns1: you just roll those eyes right back into their sockets, Mr or Ms :-)

Biologically, many 12 or 13 year olds are "old enough to have sex and have babies". But are they emotionally ready to deal with it? Is it the best thing for them? No, they're just not ready.

I didn't know that there was a "right to engage in sexual intercourse". In which part of the Bill of Rights can I find that? Or are you claiming that that's just another implied right of privacy?

Legally, people are adults at 18, with all the rights and responsibilities thereof. It doesn't mean that they're emotionally adults, though.

Interesting that you point out "rights" but not "responsibilities", though.

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Another note-what make people think that Jamie Lynn Spears wasn't on birth control? Maybe, just MAYBE she was but used them irresponsibly. It's very common for females to skip/forget to take their pill some days and that DRASTICALLY lower the pills effectiveness in preventing pregnacy. Not condoning this act, but still-I thought I should point it out.

Eh. I, for one, don't believe it's "morally" wrong for teenagers (under 18) to have sex. Perhaps because I'm not an old, stuck on ancient beliefs type of person. But rather young (24) and starting have sex on a regular since I was 16.

Posted by: Soguns1 | December 20, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Why does it matter how old Mary was? For those who are not Christians (the majority of the world, but not the majority of those who have access to the internet), the pregnancy of one young lady a couple of thousand years ago is not relevant.

Lots of talk about shame for the girl, but what about the boy? He could turn around and do this to lots of other girls, on a daily basis! A friend of mine recently noted that she was glad that she had boys, reciting that old saw about mothers of girls had to worry about every 'boy', while mothers of boys only had to worry about their own. Well, I asked her, given 100 girls and one boy, how many possible babies could be born in a year? Answer: 100 (assuming all single births). Given 1 girl and 100 boys and the same year, how many babies? She looked like I had slapped her!

Posted by: anonagain | December 20, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I haven't read the article in OK but did JL actually state she was having unprotected sex? As someone else pointed out it is possible to get pregnant while on the pill so its possible that her surprise was oh I was on BC and still got pregnant. If you've had that happen to you - believe me its a surprise.

I completely agree with the education, education, education of sex, disease, and BC. The schools programs can be great but it HAS to come from the parents - see ArmyBrats first post.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

You can't teach kids that it is acceptable to use contraception without teaching them it is acceptable to have sex with one another. That's why I think it is abominable to promote contraception products through the public schools through handout and educational programs. This is an issue that I feel is exclusively up to the parents, and should be kept out of the classroom. Besides, if it were up to the public schools to "combat teenage pregnancy", the next logical step would be to have the abortion trailor show up at your daughter's school the first Tuesday of each month.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | December 20, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I worry about the publicity not so much because it glamorizes teen pregnancy but because it makes it seem normal and manageable.
At 16, J.L. Spears says she'll keep the kid -- well she may actually have the resources/support to raise the kid well. I certainly wish them the best. But for most 16-year-olds this is a disaster, for themselves and the child.
So is the popular press going to show us pix of the glowing young mother with her belly swelling, the pretty babe in arms, and tell stories about the challenges and rewards of bringing a baby onto the set? That worries me because it makes it all seem warm and fuzzy.
I'm a single mom (divorced, I didn't plan on doing this solo) and it is HARD even with a college degree and decent job! Put me and the bags under my eyes on the cover of People magazine why dontcha?

Posted by: anne | December 20, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

"How old was Mary when Jesus was born?"

Exactly how hard could it possibly have been to parent JESUS? Seriously, how bad of a kid could he have been? How hard is it to discipline when the dad is GOD?


Posted by: Moxiemom | December 20, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Abortion and birth control. Why perpetuate this cycle of teenagers getting pregnant?

Most won't have the money to raise the kid in a decent fashion, which leads to more crime and teenage pregnancy.

The reason Europe's teen birth rate is so low isn't because European teens aren't having sex, it's because birth control and abortion are normal parts of life.

Posted by: The solutions are-- | December 20, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

to anon @ 10:01: FWIW, my brother and his ex-wife were married when they were both 18. He was a Freshman in college, she was a recent high school graduate. They were married for 14 years and have two daughters, and no, they weren't bad people.

IMNSHO, they were too immature to get married, but her parents kicked her out of their house because they believed that an 18 year old high school graduate no longer belonged at home. Out with you; join the military or find some way to support yourself. My brother figured out that if he married his girlfriend our parents would let the two of them live at home while he finished college.

So I'm very familiar with the entire spectrum of when people get married, have kids, etc. There are all kinds of families; there's no right way or only way or anything else.

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

ArmyBrat

"If you're defining "older" as out of high school, almost-20. If you're talking about 18 or 19 year old college students, or people in military service, or... then okay, MAYBE this is tolerable. Maybe they know enough to sort-of know what they're doing. "

I'm sooo glad you & the missus waited until you were almost-20, or older to have engage in sex, when you knew what you were doing..

Posted by: chittybangbang | December 20, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

fr 4us5:

>...In the spirit of full disclosure, let me tell you that I gave birth to my first child at 17. I wasn't proud of the circumstances, but that's my story. People tried to shame me (especially at church). When I was told that I would need to apologize for my sin publicly to my church congregation, I aksed if my child's father would need to come with me. I was told no, that I was the only one required to, "because others can see your sin". ...

I hope you had the courage to (a) tell them where to put it, and (b) find a church that was more open and accepting.

Posted by: Alex | December 20, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

The takes on high school sex here are really interesting, and it sort of makes me wonder if many of those posting are far enough removed from high school that they can no longer relate to how they felt then, or the decision making processes they went through.
Many of the people I was friends with in HS had sex for the first time somewhere between the end of their junior and senior years. Nobody got pregnant, and I don't believe it was all dumb luck. We had very comprehensive sex education (Fairfax co. public schools) covering all aspects, from the fertility cycle (knowing when you are ovulating and when you are not... and knowing that this is only reliable if you have a regular 28 day cycle), to the types and efficacies of different birth control methods to the developmental stages of a fertilized egg. Much of this took place in our freshman biology class and we were very lucky to also have a candid and supportive teacher.
When the time came to decide if I wanted to have sex with the young man I came to date for three years, I was armed with a good amount of information, as well as what I would consider the maturity level to purchase condoms from the drugstore.
Each person is different and to make a blanket statement saying that all people under the (magic?) age of 18 are unequivocally unprepared for the physical and emotional consequences of sex, or that they should be ashamed of their decisions seems based more in fear of what potential consequences they wouldn't want their own children to face. That is quite understandable of course, but I think it's easy to forget that a 16 or 17 year old is really on the brink of adulthood and that you have to look at people as individuals, and not always as a statistically impulsive group of people.
Certainly a 16 year old who is "shocked" at a pregnancy as the result of unprotected sex is not one of the above mentioned "informed" or "mature" teenagers, but one high profile news story does not make a blanket point about all teenagers.
This certainly goes back to how you talk to your kids, how honest you are with them, and how well you know them as individuals. It also may highlight a certain breakdown in the religious tradition of abstinence only sex education.

Posted by: I turned out ok ;) | December 20, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Can you imagine the Christmas play at Nazareth Pre-school?

Ruth of Acheba as Mary
Joel of Jersalem - as Wise Man #1
Marcus of Nazareth - as Wise Man #2
Steve of Nicea - as Wise Man #3
and STARRING - Jesus as himself!

I'm going to be laughing about this all day!

Posted by: Moxiemom | December 20, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

foamgnome @ 9:17 - I think the "shame" would on having sex at that age in the first place, NOT on not using birth control (or having it fail).

That being said, I tend to be against the shame thing myself, because it's counterproductive. Good post by 4us5 at 10:01. How many people would have taken the "easy way out" and just dropped out of the church, or quietly had an abortion? Do they really think such ostracism helps?

(One of the all-girls Catholic high schools in Baltimore faced the issue a couple of years ago - the valedictorian was obviously pregnant and unmarried. What to do? Some felt that she should be banned from graduation because letting her participate would glamorize her acts. Others said no, banning such a girl would encourage others in the same situation to go have an abortion, which isn't exactly what a Catholic high school is supposed to encourage. They wound up letting her participate.)

And yes, as a Catholic I'm taught that sex outside of marriage is a sin, whether you're 15 or 35. I'm also taught that the proper response is to "love the sinner and hate the sin". You DON'T ostracize or shame someone who's done this, because each and every one of us sins on some level and thus we'd all be kicked out if there were any justice.

WRT WorkingMomX's question @ 9:07 about explaining the issues of teen sex outside of the scope of sin - to an atheist, or to someone whose religion doesn't consider it a "sin" - I'd go back to the biological and emotional arguments. It's not a sin in my religion to drink alcohol at an early age (heck, kids as young as 8 are given wine during Mass), but there are reasons that teenagers shouldn't drink alcohol. (They can't handle it; the impact on their bodies; the impact of being drunk and out of control; etc.)

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Moxiemom-you are really on a roll today :)

I turned out OK: I think you have a valid point. Us, old foggies, really can only look at statistics because it is really hard what it was like to remember what it was like to be 16 or 17. But take it from us, we were 16 once too. The difference is we also know what it is like to be 30,40,maybe even 50+.

Songus1: I think you have a point. Have we really become so stuck up that we think the only "right" way to have kids is our way. I have known some married 18-19 year olds who are raising fabulous kids and are awesome people. They are supporting themselves and their children. Working really hard and putting themselves through school at the same time. I know 30-40 year old adults going through 2 kids, full time jobs, and graduate school and pulling their hair out. Complaining every day. But on the other hand, I know a 19 year old mother, married, has two kids, working on a RN degree, living in a rented basement who is all smiles and raising two awesome kids. Take a step back guys, the upper middle class start in life is not the only right way. There are pros and cons on either side. I see a ton of educated women and men struggling with infertility, totally indulged bratty kids, and basically unfilled marriages. Not necessarily a road map for it's a wonderful life.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

ArmyBrat: The only problem is society seems to have a double standard when it comes to underage sex and extra marital sex. We jump very hard on shame, sin and what not when it comes to teenagers having sex. But you don't tend to see the same outrage when people have extramarital affairs (unless politicians or other public figures), or even two consenting unmarried adults having sex.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

"Soguns1: you just roll those eyes right back into their sockets, Mr or Ms :-)
Biologically, many 12 or 13 year olds are "old enough to have sex and have babies". But are they emotionally ready to deal with it? Is it the best thing for them? No, they're just not ready.
I didn't know that there was a "right to engage in sexual intercourse". In which part of the Bill of Rights can I find that? Or are you claiming that that's just another implied right of privacy?
Legally, people are adults at 18, with all the rights and responsibilities thereof. It doesn't mean that they're emotionally adults, though.
Interesting that you point out "rights" but not "responsibilities", though."

--An 18 year old is a hell lot more emotionally ready to deal with the consequences of sex than a 12 year old. An 18 year old can sign a morgage/lease, work full time without needing a permit, obtain a license w/o needing Mommy and Daddy's permission to, get an abortion, etc. So heck yes, I would say that should an 18 year old have sex, she/he is more ready to deal with the consequences because an 18 year old have more RESOURCES available to him/her. Why you compare the two age group is bizzare.
An 18 year old may not be emotionally ready to reap the conseqeunces of sex but then again a 30 year old may not be either. Just like there are some 16 year olds who may be. There's no definite age when one become automatically mature. It occurs differently for each person. BUT since there is not a definite age, our laws define each mentally capable person an adult at 18. At that age, we can rightfully assume that an 18 should be mature and if not, at least have access to many resources dealing with sex.

Of course adults have a RIGHT to engage in consensual sex with each other in America. Not every freakin' humanely rights one can ever possibly think of are written out in the Bill of Rights. A Supreme Court judge can not ban two adults from having sex with each other. You ever heard of a (American) judge that ban crackhead women from popping out kids even though she have 7 kids and is leaching off welfare? Nope. (They can only take away her kids but can't tell her not to have kids or ever get pregnant again) That goes against the [basic] Human Rights in which every person is given since birth. We have a right and we have a responsibility to sex and the consequences that come from it.

Posted by: Soguns1 | December 20, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

foamgnome: I'm with you. I'm in my mid 20's now and have friends in many stages of life, but I also teach middle schoolers, so it's very interesting to observe all areas of the spectrum.
I also really support your take on Songus1's comment. I think a lot of affluent suburban areas breed that kind of attitude about the "life timeline" as it were. I have a friend who got pregnant and married at 20, divorced at 23, remarried at 27 and has a fantastic 9 year old, one of the the kindest, most well-adjusted kids I've ever known. It clearly takes all kinds, so the whole judgmental/shame thing some people are spouting here can really take a hike.

Posted by: I turned out ok ;) | December 20, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

"I hope you had the courage to (a) tell them where to put it, and (b) find a church that was more open and accepting.

Posted by: Alex | December 20, 2007 10:12 AM"

I opted for route B, and prayed that God would handle route A for me--especially after one of the deacon's grandsons got 2 girls in the church pregnant within months of each other, and no one said a word.

Posted by: 4us5 | December 20, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Teen pregnancy is an issue many parents and school officials are in denial about. Abstinence is the only sure fire way to prevent pregnancies, but we are living in a sexually motivated society the screams S.E.X and as parents we have an obligation to our children about sex, birth controls, STD's, etc. I'm the author of two books on teen pregnancy, "Motherhood, What You Don't Know!" (released in 2005 for teen girls) and "Fatherhood, What Yout Ought to Know!" (released 4/2007 for teen boys) which I have been trying to get into public schools to no avail. The Board of Education is reluctant to have sex education in schools, but has day care centers in numerous public high schools to encourage teen mothers to stay in school. What's wrong with this picture? When conducting workshops, I've talked with teen mothers who actually admitted they planned their pregnancies b/c they could take their babies to school with them. So, in many ways, having day care centers in school is backfiring! Pls. visit www.motherhoodlove.com for more details about the books that are educating our youth and making a difference!

Posted by: Melinda | December 20, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I do agree with most of what Armybrat has already stated.

However, I am just baffled as to why parents, kids or society continue to think celebrities, athletes, singers, rappers, etc. should be role models for anyone other than their own families. These people earn their money being public figures. That does not automatically make them fit to be role models to your children. They simply do not live like the average person or so it seems. Their images are manufactured so what you see publicly is often times not who they really are so people are buying into fantasies and images masquerading as role models.

I am thankful that I grew up in a family where my role models lived at the same address, in the neighborhood, attended my church or were extended family. I could and did have contact with all of my role models on a regular basis. These people were not living lives I could not be involved in nor were not reality for me. That does not mean they did not make mistakes. What it means is that I could reach out and touch these people and I actually knew them on a personal and intimate level. They were not distant figures I only "knew" via the media and/or some other staged and controlled form for appearances.

It is equally sad that JL et.al are now all in the media talking about this like it's some badge of honor. She has no idea what she is getting herself into. Parenting, I believe, is one of life's most awesome responsibilities. It requires parents who are emotionally and psychologically mature, ready and available to give to another human being who will be totally dependent on you for everything. At 16 and 19, neither of them are ready.

It would be in everyone's best interest if they all disappear from the public eye and handle this as a private family matter for the sake of JL, her boyfriend and the child.

Posted by: workingidentity | December 20, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Foam, while I'm not for humiliating people and putting scarlet letters on, I do think that the loss of the sense of shame in our society is a significant issue. People don't seem to be ashamed if they are rude to others, people don't seem to be ashamed if they do cheat on their spouse; people don't seem to be ashamed if they are absent parents, I could go on and on. WHile many of the social stigmas we have had in the past have had hurtful consequences for some, they are also, to some degree the glue that holds society together. There are common expectations for appropriate behavior. Woody Allen had no shame in taking nude pictures of and sleeping with his wife's daughter! Bill Clinton should be ashamed of cheating on his wife and taking advantage of a young girl in his employ! The same way that some people feel we need God to give a "reason" for appropriate behavior we also need shame to help people remember themselves.

As an aside, when Jesus was grounded, did Mary take the reins to his donkey? Imagine, GOD coming home at the end of a long day dealing with all the problems of the world and there's Mary at the sink and a weeping 5 year old Jesus by her side "You are NOT going to believe what YOUR son did today"! All God wants is beer and to watch the game in his giant God recliner and now he's got a weeping kid and Mary to deal with. Nevermind Joseph always hanging around "I don't understand what exactly my role here is supposed to be. Sometimes I feel like you, God, kind of make me feel irrelevent." hee hee hee

Posted by: Moxiemom | December 20, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Why does everyone assume "teenagers have sex" as though it were an indelible law of physics. This is NOT true. Kids/teens will meet expectations set for them.

Posted by: Paul NY | December 20, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Shall we present the Parents of the Year Award to Mr. and Mrs. Spears? They screwed up big time with their brood. Which trailer park should we send it to?
And stop it with the Jesus and Mary jokes. We all aren't flaming left wing liberal Jews.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

The other thing I think is interesting here is that people keep mentioning the societal pressures to have sex, but not the biological ones. Yes, clearly the media is very sexualized and it is of course a ubiquitous thing, but let's not forget that even with out the cheerleader shorts with words on the ass, or the crotch bearing paparazzi photos, or even legions of under dressed models, we would still be operating on a biological imperative to have sex (that starts, not coincidentally around... 13-16). This is why education and not abstinence is what will lower birthrates. We have to use our giant brains to overcome the primitive urge to procreate if actual procreation isn't what we're shooting for.
man made conventions telling us "no" aren't going to compensate for millenia of our brains and bodies screaming "yes." We'll still have the urge regardless, might as well use those millenia of developed intelligence to protect ourselves the best we can from any unwanted consequences.

Posted by: I turned out ok ;) | December 20, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"Each person is different and to make a blanket statement saying that all people under the (magic?) age of 18 are unequivocally unprepared for the physical and emotional consequences of sex, or that they should be ashamed of their decisions seems based more in fear of what potential consequences they wouldn't want their own children to face. That is quite understandable of course, but I think it's easy to forget that a 16 or 17 year old is really on the brink of adulthood and that you have to look at people as individuals, and not always as a statistically impulsive group of people."

-My point exactly! Very well said.

Posted by: Soguns1 | December 20, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Nicole Richie. Jessica Alba. Now Jamie Lynn. DERN IT, people! It's as if birth control (in MANY forms) weren't freely available throughout the country. I hate the "well, maybe she took birth control but missed a pill or two" argument. HELLO! If you are not adult enough to properly take your pills, OR miss your pills and refrain from having sex, OR miss your pills and not take the morning after pill, OR switch to getting a shot because you don't have to remember every day OR make your partner wear a condom (and taking the morning after pill if it breaks) OR not have sex, then YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE ENOUGH TO HAVE A BABY. Jeez. There aren't ENOUGH choices to avoid pregnancy?! Apologies for the overuse of capslock, but that argument really chaps my behind. As if the only choice were the pill and if you missed one, you had to have sex without a backup form of birth control or the morning after pill. Sheesh.

Posted by: Arggggggh | December 20, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

foamgnome, I agree completely with your 10:26 post. Re: the adults not tending to face calls of "shame", I think a lot of it comes from the fact that we all realize that this is a very diverse country from a moral/religious point of view. I think that the vast majority of people don't think that there's anything wrong with two unmarried, consenting adults having sex. Yes, some groups/denominations teach that it's a "sin", but a lot of members of those denominations don't think there's anything wrong with it.

An extramarital affair is generally only considered cause for "shame" when it's agreed that the act injures one or more innocent parties; e.g., the spouse. Otherwise, it tends to be "no harm, no foul".

As I noted above, I'm not supportive of the calls of "shame" for teens in this situation; I think under-18s having sex certainly should not be glorified or glamorized, but it does happen and calls of "shame" when it does tend to be counter-productive.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 20, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"And stop it with the Jesus and Mary jokes. We all aren't flaming left wing liberal Jews."

Obviously you aren't. You have zero sense of humor. Jesus & Mary were Jews... Jesus was pretty left wing and liberal...Not sure what "flaming" means...

Posted by: chittybangbang | December 20, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

What about celebs like Halle Berry? Yes, I know, Spears is only 16. But what kind of message (gee, especially to young African American girls) is this sending that she's not married and pregnant, happy about it, and making headlines?

Posted by: Noname | December 20, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

This is such an interesting discussion.

The question "how do you talk about this without religion" is interesting.

I'll hold my parents up as an example in that regard. They really worked to educate me about menstruation, sex, and birth control from a pretty early age (9). They said "we hope you won't have sex until you're older, but if you do, use a condom." They set limits on dating which gradually eased (by my last year of school, for some events I had no real curfew).

And they made sure I had plenty of other things to do and different peer groups which helped a lot.

The take home message to me was about the same as driving: here's what you need to know, you need to go slow, don't screw up because it's dangerous stuff.

They cared far less about whether I was having sex or not specifically as whether I was safe & happy. My parents were very messed up in a lot of ways but I have to say I think they nailed this one.

Because they gave me the message loud and clear that *I* counted. That my virtue was not the issue but my health - physical and emotional - and my goals were.

It gave me the power of yes but also the power of no. I really thought any boy to whom sex was more important than me - say, than my going to university - was a loser, pure and simple. If I were to have a teenager daughter I would hope she would feel the same way.

I chose to have sex at 15 with a boy at camp and we used condoms (AIDS was just coming over the horizon then, so the condoms were really about birth control - I don't remember being too concerned about herpes). It was fine, but I didn't choose to have sex again until university. It was hardly a catastrophic event.

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | December 20, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Chitty: If we posted a few Jew jokes you'd all be totally *issed. However, it's open season on Jesus and Mary jokes. Just because Christians have to turn the other cheek and forgive seventy ties seven doesn't mean we have to be tolerant of distasteful humor. Grow up and stop poking fun at other people's religions.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

My wife and I are so upset about this and now are scrambling to identify a way to spin this for our twin daughters who are 8 years old. Clearly this has so much to do with the movie Juno and its tale of joyful teen pregnancy. I think the cast, director, and writers should be made to go on national talk shows and apologize. There is no excuse for this Hollywood liberal media insult to the teens of America and as far at the Spears family well my wife and I talking with our daughters after evening prayers thought of the following idea.

We think once the baby is born and given to a good Christian family Jamie Lynn should be brought to a field and on national TV with Mike Huckabee acting as the MC she should be publicly whipped or perhaps stoned. It could be broadcast on Disney TV. Jamie Lynn and the entire Spears family needs to be made an example of. God Blessed America and does not want this degree of shame.

Posted by: NYC | December 20, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Hey, when did God bless America? I missed that part of the Bible.

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | December 20, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

We think once the baby is born and given to a good Christian family Jamie Lynn should be brought to a field and on national TV with Mike Huckabee acting as the MC she should be publicly whipped or perhaps stoned. It could be broadcast on Disney TV. Jamie Lynn and the entire Spears family needs to be made an example of. God Blessed America and does not want this degree of shame.


Posted by: NYC | December 20, 2007 11:07 AM


OMG, holy ***. You obviously missed some of the teachings of Jesus Christ at church. I suggest you stop praying and actually "read" the bible that you "keep so dear to your heart."

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I agree with moxiemom about the effects of the loss of shame. Though the terminology wouldn't mean exactly the same thing, maybe the term "accountability" would be a more palatable substitute for "shame."

I hadn't known that Britney has a younger sister before this story broke, but the more I see of Nickelodeon and Disney as my children get older, the more I want to keep them away from those training grounds for consuming the garbage content produced by Hollywood. They cloak the content for children in "family values," so that parents will look away from the aggressive marketing of fashion, make-up, electronic gadgets, etc. to children. It seems to me that so much of the content produced for children is one big exercise in product placement. Older kids can be taught to recogninize this, but even the Amer. Psychological Assn. has a statement against direct marketing to children under 8-- ". . .the evidence points directly to one fundamental concern: that advertising targeting children below the ages of 7-8 years is inherently unfair because it capitalizes on younger children's inability to attribute persuasive intent to advertising."
http://www.apa.org/releases/childrenads_summary.pdf

Another good resource if you're concerned about the effects of the media on children (this group is based at the Judge Baker Children's Center at Harvard):
http://www.commercialexploitation.org/
The homepage highlights their upcoming summit on the effects of the media in the media's role in sexualizing children for commercial benefit.

Posted by: Marian | December 20, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

The people most upset are the ones speaking of shame. This girl decided to keep her baby, not abort it. Shouldn't you be praising her?

This is my gripe about the right wing. Their teenagers never get pregnant. Is it because they never have unprotected sex? No, it's because they get abortions, just everybody else's teenage kids who get pregnant.

The teenage press might glamorize this for a moment but this girl's career, as she knows it, is history. She just chose a very different path for her future than the one she was on track for. It certainly isn't what I want for my daughter but I'm not going to criticize her for doing two things that are totally natural -- have sex and have a baby.

Our culture has decided that 16 is too young to raise children. That culture goes against nature. That is why we need to have education as well as values. And every one of you who is anti-abortion should stand up and praise this young woman for the decision she made. If you can't do that, then you should adjust your values.

Posted by: free bird | December 20, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

This is all liberal nonsense.

If you have a 16yr old who gets herself pregnant, you suck as a parent. Period.

Upsetting Judgement? You bet!

Truth? Yes sireee.

Posted by: Alan | December 20, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

"The teenage press might glamorize this for a moment but this girl's career, as she knows it, is history. "

WHAT CAREER? Like her sister's????

Boo-hoo, I guess now she'll just have to settle by going to college and getting a regular career.

Boo-hoo.

Sucky parenting. Thats the bottomline.

Posted by: Alan | December 20, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I don't know what sort of robot teenagers you are talking about, Paul NY, but every teenager I knew in Catholic High School had high expectations set for them and every one made stupid choices about something (smoking, drinking, sex, lying, or me: hitchhiking) at some time. I think the issue of shame is moot. It has taken a long time to abandon the guilt and realize that the most important question when something hasn't gone according to plan is, "What do I do now?" and deal with the consequences.

One thing that does bother me about younger teenagers having babies (12-15) is that their bone structure might not be fully developed and it can be difficult to have a vaginal birth.

Posted by: MaryL | December 20, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I dunno, I think NYC might just be getting a little Old testamenty on us. They stoned women for less.

jeeez....

Posted by: I turned out ok ;) | December 20, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Marian:accountability is a better word then shame.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

And stop it with the Jesus and Mary jokes. We all aren't flaming left wing liberal Jews.

I am neither liberal, nor jewish. Just a funny gal having a laugh. Do you think Jesus never enjoyed a good joke? Do you think he walked around with a glowing orb around his head all the time. If I wanted to slam Christianity, I would and could do so directly. Right now I'm just envisioning a funny scenario. Lighten up.

Posted by: Moxiemom | December 20, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

In case you've missed his past posts, "NYC" is usually satirical.

Posted by: MaryL | December 20, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

If only these young women would listen to our leader, George W. Bush. Do not have sex. It's that simple. What is wrong with these people??? Just say no. Thank God we have a President who understands these issues and has a common sense solution. Condoms?!?!? Sex education?!?!?!? Are you kidding me!?!?!? Abstinence is the only answer and strict adherence to the rules of our all-knowing King, George W. Bush, will solve this problem plain and simple. And tell these young women to go to church. My God, it is the only solution. Oh, Spears met her baby-daddy in church?!?!!? Oops.

Posted by: Get A Life | December 20, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Foamie,

pleeease start using thAn when comparing things, not thEn. It's starting to drive me nuts. You do it in so many postings, I don't think it's a typo any more.

Posted by: Anon for this | December 20, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

In case you've missed his past posts, "NYC" is usually satirical.

Posted by: MaryL | December 20, 2007 11:20 AM

In that case, I apologize. I thought I had some crazy freak on my hands.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Foamie,

pleeease start using thAn when comparing things, not thEn. It's starting to drive me nuts. You do it in so many postings, I don't think it's a typo any more.

Posted by: Anon for this | December 20, 2007 11:21 AM

I will try to remember but can't promise.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"Grow up and stop poking fun at other people's religions. "

Alas, if you had a sense of humor and were a regular on this blog, you would know when your religion was being attacked. And
you might better be able to identify the Jews!!! And AGAIN, Mary & Jesus were JEWS!!!!

Posted by: chittybangbang | December 20, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

But I'm a good smart ass. :)

Seriously though, as a writer it fascinates me what the ramifications are of that tense shift. It's supposed to be a prayer/request/invocation: [please] God bless America.

But if you hear it as "God blessed America" - that explains so much American foreign policy right there! Puts a whole new spin on reading comprehension and NCLB.

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | December 20, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"And AGAIN, Mary & Jesus were JEWS!!!!"

Well its not like they couldve been Christians instead....What was Jesus gonna say, Im a Myself-Ian???

Meaningless point.

Posted by: Alan | December 20, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

foamgnome
"OMG, holy ***. You obviously missed some of the teachings of Jesus Christ at church. I suggest you stop praying and actually "read" the bible that you "keep so dear to your heart."


NYC is being sarcastic...

Posted by: chittybangbang | December 20, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

"And AGAIN, Mary & Jesus were JEWS!!!!"

Well, but come on, what choice did Jesus have? If he had said "I worship myself" he would have been put in the first-century equivalent of a rubber room.

Posted by: Get A Life | December 20, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

"Do you think Jesus never enjoyed a good joke?"

I'm banking on God having a good sense of humor or I, for one, will certainly burn!

Posted by: GutlessCoward | December 20, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

To NYC:

What Hollywood puts on TV has nothing to do with their being "liberal" in the sense of being left-wing former hippie types.

They put out the content they think will sell all the junk produced by big corporations and pay the big Wall St. bonuses.

If anything, it's the "liberals" in what the right-wingers call the People's Republic of Cambridge (MA) who are trying to mitigate what corporate America is doing to sell stuff at the expense of the well-being of our kids.

Posted by: Marian | December 20, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Alan, Get a Life, and a bunch of anons, oh my.

Mako? Oh, Mako, where are you?

I think you've been jumped again.

(Okay, now I have a legitimate excuse to go do some work. :-)

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

ArmyBrat, you're such a smug regular, aren't you?

Posted by: xyz | December 20, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

As long as we are talking about Mary, mother of God, what is UP with the code of silence on the part of the father? It's like the ancient Greek gods or something! Zeus impregnants a woman and flees, leaving poor maiden to explain herself. And then when it's time for her to give birth, do you think He steps up to help her one bit? No -- he allows her to travel during her last month and then doesn't even make reservations. I'm not saying the god is a dead beat dad, but I think I would have had higher expectations from the birth father.

And Alan, you must not have kids. You can have the greatest kid in the world until they turn 13, and then they become aliens. Or your kids are just seething, overly controlled, fearful timebombs. I actually had parents who were out to lunch, told me nothing about sex, birth control, boys, etc. I can't give them credit for keeping me out of single mother hood. (Planned parenthood, I am totally going to send you a fat contribution.) My kids have known what sex is since they were in kindergarten. They are disgusted with the entire notion so far, but as my husband said, you'll do anything when you want to have a baby!

Posted by: anonagain | December 20, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

To the Democrats: Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice any religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncompliacted recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. (If you don't think America, i.e., the United States of America, is a wonderful country, you can just leave and find yourself another more to your liking. In fact, we wish you would do so without hesitation.) Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religion or sexual preference of the wishes.

To the Republicans: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Posted by: Born in the USA | December 20, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

lol Alan - I'm conjuring Jesus with his fledgling church at the Nazareth strip mall under a banner saying

"Be Saved, Join the Church of Me (jesus)! All welcome."

He would also likely want to have a good Assistant Pastor as things would change for the worse soon! dum da dum... Mary Magdalene was in charge of "social ministry" hee hee hee.

This is fun. Its like working for SNL, but not being quite as talented as they are!

Hey, chitty, we are on the same side for once. Its a Christmas miracle! lol.

Posted by: Moxiemom | December 20, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"And Alan, you must not have kids. You can have the greatest kid in the world until they turn 13, and then they become aliens. Or your kids are just seething, overly controlled, fearful timebombs. I actually had parents who were out to lunch, told me nothing about sex, birth control, boys, etc. I can't give them credit for keeping me out of single mother hood. (Planned parenthood, I am totally going to send you a fat contribution.) My kids have known what sex is since they were in kindergarten. They are disgusted with the entire notion so far, but as my husband said, you'll do anything when you want to have a baby!"

I do have children. To put it succintly I will do my utmost to instill good morals, responsibility and decency in them. If after all that they get themselves pregnant, then that would clearly mean that I FAILED as a parent. Period.

Posted by: Alan | December 20, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Wow, this is what happens when OB puts up a tired old topic.:) BTW, Merry Christmas, happy solistice, happy new year, and best wishes for 2008! P.S. I hope my grammar isn't making any one nuts.:)

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Alan: Got herself pregnant??? I guess this truly is a Christmas miracle.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

"Alan: Got herself pregnant??? I guess this truly is a Christmas miracle."

I actually wrote "got themselves pregnant".

Stop drinking, please.

Posted by: Alan | December 20, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Alan, good luck with that. When you were 16 I guess you were following all your parents' rules - good for you; I certainly was not!

Posted by: Shandra | December 20, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Alan: you stop drinking, fool. See your post of 11:12.

This is all liberal nonsense.

If you have a 16yr old who gets herself pregnant, you suck as a parent. Period.

Upsetting Judgement? You bet!

Truth? Yes sireee.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Well sober people understand I wasn't referring to virgin birth.

Really, stop drinking.

Posted by: Alan | December 20, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"Alan, good luck with that. When you were 16 I guess you were following all your parents' rules - good for you; I certainly was not!"

No I wasn't, but I had enough decent upbringing to prevent me from crossing the line into getting someone pregnant. If I did, then my parents FAILED at parenting. Period.

Posted by: Alan | December 20, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Alan

"No I wasn't, but I had enough decent upbringing to prevent me from crossing the line into getting someone pregnant. If I did, then my parents FAILED at parenting. Period."

Holy Mary was pregnant out of wedlock...Period.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

"No I wasn't, but I had enough decent upbringing to prevent me from crossing the line into getting someone pregnant. If I did, then my parents FAILED at parenting. Period."

Holy Mary was pregnant out of wedlock...Period."

I can only speak definitively of my own life's and parents' experiences and not an event 2000 years ago. Sober people do that.

Posted by: Alan | December 20, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

What in the world happened to this conversation? First, it was pretty intelligent, maybe even thought-provoking, and now this craziness?

The topic raised by the original post aren't liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. Grow up,stop with the sound bytes, and have a real adult conversation!

Posted by: 4us5 | December 20, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"Grow up,stop with the sound bytes, and have a real adult conversation!"

I agree wholeheartedly. My original point that when a 16yr old gets pregnant that is evidence of bad or failed parenting. In this day and age when we shudder to offend children by using red ink or prizes at schools, even adults dont want to hear that they can fail. Everybody's a winner! Your kid gets pregnant its OK!! As long as you love them!! Kid doing drugs, no problem, as long as theyr'e healthy we did OK!

Posted by: Alan | December 20, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Alan: But what other way can a girl get herself pregnant if you're not talking about the virgin birth? Shall we see a star rise above Kenwood next week?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Alan: You've finally made the distinction I was looking for in your 12:06 post. A 16 year old girl can get pregnant but cannot get HERSELF pregnant. There is a boy involved who has to share responsibility and/or blame.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Moxiemom: The challenge has been made.

Jeepers, I dunno if I can beat that. The first one esp. is reminiscent of Mel Brooks who is a God in my house!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 20, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"Shall we see a star rise above Kenwood next week?"

Woah!! How krazee would that be if Jamie Lynn Spears was carrying the messiah - THAT blows my mind!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 20, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

"To put it succintly I will do my utmost to instill good morals, responsibility and decency in them. If after all that they get themselves pregnant,"

Hermaphrodism?

And man up, Alan. They're not robots. You can teach them everything they need to know under the sun, but kids are GOING to screw up in some way, shape or form.

You are a failure as a parent. We all are! The question will be, exactly how did you "fail"?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I got pregnant when I was 21, not exactly living the model lifestyle. Nothing motivated me more to be a better person and get my life together than my daughter. Because of my lifestyle many thought I would be a terrible irresponsible parent. Flash forward 13 years. I have a wonderful 12 year old who gets good grades and is a great kid. Yes I worked a little harder to get established, but I am in the same position now as my other friends who are in their early to mid 30's. Just because you are "surprised" doesn't mean that you can't turn it around and make something good come of it.
I think Jamie will be fine. I hope she has people that encourage her to finish school and learn to be the best person she can be. I find it strange that nobody in the media seems to be remarking on the fact her parents should not have let a 13 yr old date a 16 yr old in the first place. There is nobody saying shame on that boy for playing with a much younger girl. Seems that the double standard is still holding true. That is the real shame in all this.

Posted by: California Mom | December 20, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

"No I wasn't, but I had enough decent upbringing to prevent me from crossing the line into getting someone pregnant. If I did, then my parents FAILED at parenting. Period."

Wow, so if you'd gotten carried away in a backseat with a girl and accidentally knocked her up, your parents would've been failures? Seriously? I'm not trying to score points here, I'm just a bit flabbergasted that this would have been their fault.

I'm thinking about some of the things I did at 16 - nothing to do with sex - and I really don't think my parents can be entirely blamed /or/ praised for the fact that those things didn't kill me, or whatever. Sometimes I obeyed them and sometimes I didn't and neither had much to do with them.

Things they did definitely had impact and influence, yes. But control? No.

Fact is, I'm my own person and was then.

In your parents' case I think you should get them some more Christmas presents! I think they deserve it for all that!

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | December 20, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I find it strange that nobody in the media seems to be remarking on the fact her parents should not have let a 13 yr old date a 16 yr old in the first place. There is nobody saying shame on that boy for playing with a much younger girl. Seems that the double standard is still holding true. That is the real shame in all this.

Posted by: California Mom | December 20, 2007 12:25 PM

I agree, I didn't even realize the father-to-be was that much older than the mother-to-be. I realize the laws vary, state-by-state, but I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the words "statutory rape". I know they apply in my state.

I'm lucky, in a way, that I don't have cable at home. I figure it's stupid to pay for television (overall, I know there are some wonderful programs on some cable stations). I just don't think there's any point in having yet another reason for the family to sit around on their @sses, with their eye-balls glued to the screen. So the whole Britney Spears thing never happened in my house anyway, let alone her equally talentless little sister.

I do remember when Britney Spears came to this area, and I was taken aback by how many middle-aged MEN were ogling the stage, despite their young daughters being RIGHT THERE NEXT TO THEM. I found it really distasteful and tacky. Kind of one half-step "better" than taking your daughter to a strip club.

Eeww.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Most teenagers who have sex do so in spite of the way they were raised rather than because of the way they were raised. Hormones are a powerful force. Good girls and boys have sex. Bad girls and boys have sex. Some teens are older when they start and some are younger. Some actually wait until they are married and/or no longer teens.

Army Brat, I am curious to know how old you were when you began having sex. I agree with most of what you say, but my family raised me the way you seem to think is best and I still lost my virginity at 15. It had nothing to do with my family and how they raised me - it was all me. I was headstrong, rebellious, daring and physically attracted to my boyfriend, not to mention sneaky. I didn't become pregnant - not because I was smart or practiced great birth control. I was just lucky. I knew a girl who did become pregnant at 17 the third time she had sex. Her parents actually held me up as an example of a "good" girl. Little did they know.

Posted by: lurker | December 20, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

lurker

"Army Brat, I am curious to know how old you were when you began having sex."

ArmyBrat & wife were 20-something TECHNICAL VIRGINS when they married. (Mrs. ArmyBrat is a bow-wow.)To be extra safe and holier-than -thou, ArmyBrat and the wifey waited 2 months into their marriage before actual intercourse.

Posted by: chittybangbang | December 20, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

moxiemom wrote: "Can you imagine the Christmas play at Nazareth Pre-school?

Ruth of Acheba as Mary.."

Nobody else will get this, but it's been making me laugh ever since seeing Moxie's post.

Our church used to open each Mass with introductions. One of the cantors would go "today's Mass is celebrated by Father Joe Jones, with Deacon Jim Smith assisting. The Altar Servers are Jane Doe, Joey Johnson and Tina Williams. The choir director is Dr. Lucille McGillicuddy, and my name is Carol Burnett."

I went to a college basketball game and heard the standard player introductions - "starting at forward for the Terps, a 6'8" junior from Baltimore Dunbar High School, Keith Booth."

Ever since that, I mentally superimposed that introduction onto the "player introductions" at church. I used to break out laughing. "And now, here's the starting lineup for YOURRRR 9:30 Mass! At left candle, a 4'6' 7th grader from Holy Family, Regina Jones. At right candle, a 4'1" dynamo from George Washington Elementary, Joey Thomas. And in the center, in his 25th year out of St. Mary's Seminary, leading the league in saves and baptisms, Fatherrr Joe Jones!"

Moxiemom's post brought that back into my mind, and I've been laughing ever since.

Nobody else thinks that's funny? Okay, sorry. Back to whatever argument you were having.

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"ArmyBrat & wife were 20-something TECHNICAL VIRGINS when they married. (Mrs. ArmyBrat is a bow-wow.)To be extra safe and holier-than -thou, ArmyBrat and the wifey waited 2 months into their marriage before actual intercourse."

chitty, I love you, I really do. These blogs (this and On Balance) would be poorer for your absence. Less offensive, probably, but poorer without doubt.

But to correct the only minor error in your posting: Mrs. ArmyBrat is a hottie; was then and is more so now. I don't know why she married me, but I married way, way, way above my station in life.

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Mrs. ArmyBrat is a hottie; was then and is more so now. I don't know why she married me, but I married way, way, way above my station in life.

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 12:55 PM

Written by a man who is likely to get some hot Christmas action.

And smart enough to know he was very lucky, many years ago.

Posted by: maryland_mother | December 20, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if all the people who think she should be "ashamed" are saying that because a) she had sex, or b) she got pregnant. Isn't the average age for having sex the first time something like 16?

My mother started talking to me about condoms when I was about 13 or so (no, I was not having sex then). Her view was that if you wait until the kid seems to need the information, it may already be too late, and this stuff needs a long time to sink in. So when I did start having sex, I was using BC pills *and* condoms.

(and fwiw, I would never, ever let my 13-year old daughter date a 16-year old boy. There are just way too many reasons that's a terrible idea.)

Posted by: reston, va | December 20, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

FWIW I played Mary at least three times in school plays during my elementary school years, the first when I was in first grade. My mother made a white tunic out of a sheet and had a blue linen scarf/shawl for my head. I carried a baby doll wrapped in a towel. The boys who were shepherds wore bathrobes and carried cologne bottles and a decorated cigar box for the baby's gifts. This was in public school back in the days when you could celebrate Christmas without being politically incorrect.

Posted by: Born in the USA | December 20, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

That should have been Wise Men in bathrobes. The shepherds wore cut off khaki pants and carried big sticks.

Posted by: Born in the ... you get the idea | December 20, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Born in the USA

"The boys who were shepherds wore bathrobes and carried cologne bottles and a decorated cigar box for the baby's gifts. This was in public school back in the days when you could celebrate Christmas without being politically incorrect."

Did the "shepards" wear sandals & socks???

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

"Isn't the average age for having
sex the first time something like 16?"

Yes, except for the great booty slump that happend in America in the 1950s, it's been close to that for girls for thousands of years.

My wife's granmother of 8, still healthy, tells us of the story about how she faked her birth certificate when she was 15 to legally get married at 16.

Today's values have not changed human nature one bit!

Posted by: GutlessCoward | December 20, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Army Brat, now you made me lol! I double dog dare you to do that this Sunday! Lemme know how it goes! Better yet, put it on YouTube!

Posted by: Moxiemom | December 20, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

reston, va: "Isn't the average age for having sex the first time something like 16?'

I don't think so. The most recent data I could find on the Centers for Disease Control's website was released in 2004, covering 1995-2002. See http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_024FactSheet.pdf

(Keep in mind that "teens" as defined in this goes up to and includes 19 year olds.)

"Teens in 2002 are delaying sex until older ages compared to 1995.
•Teens are also using contraception more often, compared to 1995 data.
o Among younger female teens (aged 15-17) , the percent who ever had sex declined from 38 in 1995 to 30 in 2002.
o Among male teens, the percent who ever had sex declined from 55 in 1995 to 46 in 2002.
o Among teens who had sex in last 3 months, a higher percentage used contraception than was true in 1995 (in 2002, 83% of females used contraception at last sex and 91% of males did so)
o Increases occurred in the use of several different methods, including: the pill, the condom, injectables, and dual methods (condom combined with a hormonal method).
•Other facts about sexual activity among teens:
o Just under half of teens have had sex: In 2002, 47 percent, or 4.6 million, female teens had had sex and 46 percent, or 4.7 million, male teens had had sex.
o Sex among the youngest teens has declined as well: in 2002, 13 percent of never-married female teens had had sex before age 15 (compared to 19 percent in 1995), and 15 percent of males had done so (compared to 21 percent in 1995).
o The vast majority of (never-married) teenagers had not had intercourse in the month prior to interview (72 percent of females and three-fourths ofmales), but 16 percent of females and 12 percent of males had had sex 4 or more times in the past month.
First intercourse was nonvoluntary for 10 percent of teen females
For the majority of female teens the first sex partners are commonly 1 to 3
years older than themselves, but for a quarter of the teens, the first partners
were 4 or more years older.
During the year preceding the survey, 18 percent of male teens and 14
percent of female teens had had 2 or more sexual partners.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 20, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Army Brat, maybe I'm missing something here. Are you telling us that the trend amung teens is that they are having less sex, using more birth control, and teenage pregnancy is on the rise?

Posted by: GutlessCoward | December 20, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

So where in those CDC statistics, ArmyBrat, does it say the average age is when sexual intercourse first occurs? Or did you just go spewing a bunch of facts around without being able to interpret them?

Anyways, the average age for first time intercourse is a little over 16. I would say 17 years old to be more exact.

Posted by: Soguns1 | December 20, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

This society is no more obsessed with sex than society has ever been. The thing about sex outside of marriage is that people used to get married a lot younger (and FTR, Mary was about 14, like Juliet). Now we expect them to wait until their late 20s, but guess what -- puberty (and thus sex drive) is hitting earlier and earlier.

Talk to your kids about responsibility, talk to them about the emotional effects of unwanted pregnancy -- talk to them, for god's sake, about how much harder it is when they break up with someone they've had that intimate a relationship with! And then buy them condoms and/or BC, because it's not if, people, it's when.

Posted by: Mother of 2 20-somethings | December 20, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

My best friend had her first child at 18 and I had my first at 32. Now, we're 50 and she is working part time, traveling, enjoying grown son and grandchildren. I, on the other hand, am dealing with college for my first and high school for my second while also dealing with stressful full time job and menopause.

I didn't envy her life when we were in our twenties, but her life is looking pretty good right now.

Posted by: another anon | December 20, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Gutless Coward: "Are you telling us that the trend amung teens is that they are having less sex, using more birth control, and teenage pregnancy is on the rise?"

No, although I admit just posting stats like I did could lead to confusion. I posted the latest official stats I could find on teen sex from the CDC, which cover the years up through 2002. That was during a significant decrease (by any measure I can find) of teen sexual activity.

The rise in teen pregnancy is noted in 2006 - not covered by the stats I posted. That's a new release, and it's not an official number - it's an estimate based on preliminary data. It's likely there really was a rise in teen pregnancy last year, although the "official numbers" won't be known for a year or two. The question is whether that's a one-year blip or the start of a new trend.

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Soguns1, since I have a Master's Degree in Statistics, I can interpret the statistics reasonably well.

"Anyways, the average age for first time intercourse is a little over 16. I would say 17 years old to be more exact."

Okay - by 'average' are you referring to the mean, the median or the mode?

Because the median and the mode are reasonably easy to calculate, but the mean is somewhat difficult because you have to account for the 53% of females and 54% of males who have not yet had sex - and how you account for that can dramatically change the mean.


Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Maryland Mother is right. Learning responsibility is kind of like scuba diving. Divers who ascend too quickly get the bends. People (not just young ones) who move quickly from autocratic micromanagement under their parents to no direct supervision their first year away tend to mess up with some frequency.

Have seen a number of people who were squeaky clean in high school, then evidently turned into a member of Motley Crue without the rents there to crack down.

Responsibility, like other stresses, is best added gradually.

Posted by: Taylor | December 20, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Why was she living with this guy?

Posted by: Charlotte NC | December 20, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

The median would be the most true representation of what is really happening. Foam?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 20, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

All the kids that I know that have been born to teenage mothers are doing exceptionally well. I think there some advantages to a teenage pregnancy:

1. Since teenagers are under the gardienship of their parents, their is financial stability and if the grandparents help out with childcare, the child gets raised by mature adults and their values.

2. A teenage girl and boy has the energy to chase their child around and engage in physical play. Sometimes I think that the correlation between babies being born to older adults and the sharp rise in medications given to elementary school kids stems from the inability from out of shape parents not being able to control their kids.
and..

3. The responsibility of raising a child essentially forces a girl to grow up quickly. In 10 years or so when the girl is at marrying age, she has enough experience in life to pick a male partner that shows signs of responsibility and institutes solid family values.

And if you choose to use shame as a tool to prevent your teenager from having sex, it will only work with the girls. to boys, sexual activity is something to be proud of.

Posted by: gutlessCoward | December 20, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Gutless Coward, good points. To consider also: The common age of marriage dropped during the 1950s and the economic boom that afforded very young couples greater options then.

Posted by: Taylor | December 20, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, teen pregnancies happen even to teens who have received "non-Bush" sex education classes.

Somehow there is a disconnect when it comes to getting across the HUGE responsibilities of sex to teenagers.


Posted by: DadofT wo | December 20, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Don't remember who said it, but it has been said adults produce children, but children produce adults.

There is truth to that, but it is questionable whether having a child "forces" a parent to grow up. Some people face up to the responsibility and others do not. Quite a few grandparents out there raising their grandchildren without the help of the parents.

Posted by: Taylor | December 20, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

The median would be the most true representation of what is really happening. Foam?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 20, 2007 02:25 PM


The median age is the age that 50% of the population started doing whatever. More likely, if you wanted an average age (mean) for first intercourse, you would have had to sample people who have had sex to begin with. Then you can accurately calculate a mean age. A simple screener question is : have you had sexual intercourse? 1) yes 2)no. If yes, second question: At what age did you begin sexual intercourse. Then it would be pretty easy to calcualte mean, mode or median out of the population that answered yes. Overall, I would imagine that is how the CDC handles these types of questions. Actually, if I was designing this questionnaire I would start with the same screener and probably produce quintile results. Meaning out of the population who are NOT virgins, first quintile (20%) of the first time was ages 12-13 or whatever,...(last quintile) 30+ first timers. Then list the % who are sexually active at any time in the population by age coherts. Like 10% in ages 12-13,..., 1% in 30+. But that is me. My guess is they started with the screener and actually published the average. But I have never worked on sex studies.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

It's arrrrgggggh again, to rain on your parade (this time, hopefully without capslock). To the noodleheaded gutlessCoward who argues that "there some advantages to a teenage pregnancy: [among them] 1. Since teenagers are under the gardienship of their parents, their is financial stability and if the grandparents help out with childcare, the child gets raised by mature adults and their values." So an advantage you see to having teen parents is that they aren't actually being RAISED by the teen parents, but by "mature adults." How is that a benefit? And you want the baby raised by people with (implicitly) better values than the kids who became pregnant? Again, I'm not seeing the "benefit" to teenage parenthood when the benefits you highlight have more to do with them being raised by financially solvent, mature and ethically grounded adults. Also - "their" is the possessive and guardianship is spelled with a "ua."

Posted by: Arrrrgggggh | December 20, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

gutlessCoward

" The responsibility of raising a child essentially forces a girl to grow up quickly."

I disagree with all of your points; the above point most of all. Check out child abuse/child neglect stats, for one thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

How many people here have never met anyone personally who either got pregnant in high school or got someone in high school pregnant?

Am not getting a good sense of how common teenage pregnancy is. The scaremongers ("They're all running wild") and the blase long-viewers ("Teens have been having sex for thousands of years") have not been helpful in this regard and the statistics are leaving me cold.

I knew one guy who at age 20 got a 16-year-old pregnant and about ten years later the 15-year-old niece of the person I was dating got pregnant.

And that's it.

I attended the niece's wedding. The ceremony and reception had an air of forced cheer.

Posted by: My last post today | December 20, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

To: "My last post today" - to get the true numbers, you have to go to the stats, no matter how "cold and unfeeling" they may seem. But anecdotally, in Louisiana 30 years ago, my senior year of high school started with 76 kids in class, and 64 graduated. Of the 76, by graduation night, 5 girls had had children (3 of them dropped out during the year); 3 more were pregnant at graduation; and at least 3 that I know of had had abortions. That's 11 out of the 38 girls who started that year.

My oldest daughter graduated in May from a high school in Howard County, MD. There were 392 in her graduating class. I don't know what the gender breakdown was, but if you assume about 50-50, that's almost 200 girls. Of those, I knew of 4 that had given birth, 6 that had had abortions, and 3 that were or were suspected to be pregnant at graduation. So a much lower percentage, but it still occurs.

Howard County public schools have an on-site day care center at one of the schools, so that teen mothers can finish high school. I think that they're also required to take a parenting class if they have a child in the center.

And of course these anecdotes highlight the basic gender unfairness, because I haven't said anything about the boys. That's because I quite honestly don't know how many of the boys fathered children as teenagers, or got a girl pregnant who had a miscarriage or an abortion; I also don't know how many of them would later get teenaged girls pregnant when the males themselves were no longer teens.

Re: the niece's wedding: yep, earlier today I used the term "shotgun wedding". I attended a few of them myself back in Louisiana.

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

foamgnome, outstanding analysis! I think that's pretty reasonable as long as you clarify what variable you're estimating. In other words, it's "of those teenagers who have had sex, the median age of first sexual intercourse was ...", NOT "of the entire population of teenagers, the median age for first sexual intercourse was ..."

The latter value is harder to calculate, or may be a much larger number, because there is some percent of the population that has not had sexual intercourse.

Posted by: Army Brat | December 20, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Have you noticed
That people are still having sex
All the denouncement
And absolutely no effect

Parents and councilors
Constantly scorn them
But people are still having sex
And nothing seems to stop them

Do you realize that
People are still having sex
They've been told not to
Perhaps they are perplexed

When you see them holding hands
They're making future plans
To engage in the activity
Do you understand me

People are still having sex
Lust keeps on lurking
Nothing makes them stop
This AIDS thing's not working

People are still having sex
It's been going on for quite awhile
Perhaps it's quite fashionable
It hasn't gone out of style

It's a fact that
People are still having sex
It's rather obvious
It's just what one expects

It's a fact that
People are still having sex
It's rather obvious
It's just what one expects

The evidence is all around
That everyone in every town
Has had it at one time
Or another in their life

At this very moment
People are still having sex
In a downtown condo
Or street in the projects

Although you can't see them
Or hear their breathing sounds
Someone in this world
Is having sex right now


People are still having sex
Lust keeps on lurking
Nothing makes them stop
This AIDS thing's not working

People are still having sex
It's been going on for quite awhile
Perhaps it's quite fashionable
It hasn't gone out of style

Posted by: La Tour | December 20, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Army Brat, I never heard of people trying to estimate the average of age of the entire population for first sexual intercourse.

BTW, (to everyone), why do all these kids and sex discussions revolve around pregnancy? I much more scared of my kid contracting aids then getting pregnant. Not to be crude, I am also very concerned about kids and group sex and multiple partners. Some of the teenagers make me puke when they talk about having sex in groups or sex parties.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

OOps, I did it again. Correction:

I much more scared of my kid contracting aids than getting pregnant.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

True Foam - some of the "virgins" were "everything but" girls who did things that even as a relatively jaded 37 year old I find shocking - some pretty dirty stuff especially for teens. I'd rather my daughter have things inserted where they belong than be a virgin who treats a one way street as a two way.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 20, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

OK, I've been away from my computer for hours now, which I regret...Ah, the holiday season.

In any event, what is a non-religious parent to do when trying to convince their teenagers not to have sex, or at least to wait until they're ready for it? Well, you have to spell out very slowly how someone can be ready to have sex. None of this wait "until you're in love" or "until you're ready to raise a baby" stuff. Here is are the ten things I have said teenagers (or anyone, really) needs to do before having sex:

1. Have an orgasm.

2. Know the other person's sexual history.

3. Know the other person's STI status, as well as your own.

4. Talk about exactly what STI protection and birth control you will be using.

5. If you are part of a heterosexual couple, talk about what happens if the woman gets pregnant.

6. Have your best friend's blessing.

7. Meet your partner's parents.

8. Be comfortable being naked in front of each other.

9. Have condoms on hand.

10. Make sure that your partner has done all of these things too.

(http://karenrayne.com/2007/09/28/top-ten-things-to-do-before-you-have-sex-a-list-for-teenagers/)

Posted by: Karen Rayne | December 20, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

moxiemom:So true. But really, we don't want to actively know the every thing but kids. I think we can't handle (as parents) that kind of information.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 20, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Karen - I'd like to add 11. Shave your legs! just kidding.

Foam - I think you are so right. I want tehm to be able to talk to me, but I don't want to know all the details like I'm the best friend. How to balance those two, seemingly conflicting points of view, I dunno. thanks for the statistical model. There is a whole world of survey methodology that amazes me. I'm always annoyed tho at how people treat the average like it is the median.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 20, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can't take the trailer park out of the girl.

Just think, in sixteen years, it will be deja vu all over again when Jamie Lynn becomes a grandmother at the ripe old age of 32.

Posted by: filmex | December 20, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

gutlessCoward may be gutless and a coward, but he/she is also moronic and clueless.

Posted by: Spectator2 | December 20, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the poor dear has a learning disability or ADHD. Judge not lest ye be judged. Perhaps she should have been in a special school with a private tutor or stoned on meds to keep her functioning. How on earth can she be so 'shocked and surprised' that she's knocked up if she's been doing the nasty all along? Your luck can only run so long.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

For what its worth, the father-to-be is reported to be either 18 or 19...

Posted by: Wolfcastle | December 20, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

"if you assume about 50-50, that's almost 200 girls. Of those, I knew of 4 that had given birth, 6 that had had abortions, and 3 that were or were suspected to be pregnant at graduation. So a much lower percentage, but it still occurs."

And there could have been 100 more abortions. Do you really think that you are an expert on what goes on with the entire school population?

Posted by: to ArmyBrat | December 20, 2007 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Last night I tried to use the Jamie Lynn Spears event as a teachable moment for my 17-year-old son, but he had no idea who she was. We went downstairs and caught the last five minutes of Zoey 101. It seems that a rival queen bee mean girl was blackmailing Zoey with something embarrassing. Zoey was about to confess to the whole school when all the other kids stepped forward Spartacus-style and each confessed something embarrassing about themselves. My son and I entertained ourselves by yelling "I'm pregnant!" Rocky Horror style before each line. According the to the WaPo TV column, they already have a fourth season of the show in the can. The subtextual fun than can be had for these unaired episodes is going to be on par with Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies.

Right after Zoey came a show called iCarly about a 13-year-old girl that has her own webcast. She tries to build her audience by sucking up to a prominent blog that is run by an overly prim 11-year-old dweeb. He tries to exchange a good review for romantic favors. Much awkwardness ensues. These tweeners have some fine television to watch.

There are good stats on teenage sex. I blogged about it a while back. 69% of kids have had sex before they are 18 and nearly 100% before 25.

http://livebythefoma.blogspot.com/2007/11/horny-teens-arent-hoodlums.html

And for the to-do list, #1 is a given for guys. And I don't want to be the one assigning the homework for girls.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 21, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

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