Tuesday, February 24, 2009

if an unwed mother speaks into a fox microphone, does she make a worthwhile sound?

Twenty years ago we had Murphy Brown: the TV sitcom career woman who elected to be a single mom. In the speech heard round the world, then Vice President Dan Potatoe-head Quayle, accused the career woman of "mocking the importance of a father."

Now, in 2009, we have Bristol Palin: the daughter of vice-presidential wannabe, Sarah Palin.

Bristol doesn't lament being a single mom so much as having started a family too early, without having "a career" or "her own house" and without having completed her education. All valid points.

Ironic side note: Murphy had a career but no baby-daddy. Bristol has a baby-daddy but no career.

Bristol gave
an interview recently as a means of furthering her mother's national political aspirations helping "prevent teen pregnancy." In so doing, she talked about how much she loves the baby. How she didn't "regret" having the baby "at all." How she only wished she had "waited ten years."

Waited ten years to .... what? To have sex? To have unprotected sex?

Interestingly, a regret she didn't mention was being unwed. Any moment now, I'm expecting Quayle's modern day equivalent, a self-appointed
family values czar to pontificate on such a clear lapse of moral judgement. Or not, because, she is the direct descendant of one who yaks on about values.

But the whys of Bristol's marital status is none of my business. My only concern is her message to teens.

So, for the record, what does she have to say about abstinence?

"Everyone should be abstinent, or whatever, but it's not realistic." Um. Ok.
She didn't want to "get into details" of what IS realistic so that's all we get.

And if not abstinence, what options does she advocate?

She advises teens to "wait."

Newsflash for Bristol: Waiting IS abstinence. Abstinence IS waiting. The two are one and the same unless you are joining a convent.

So consider the interview a ploy to get her mother back into the national spotlight a waste of time, or worse, a public service announcement for how satisfying and fulfilling an unplanned pregnancy can be.

I know, I know. Bristol is only a teenager. She is young and naive. She is her mother's daughter untrained in the art of crafting a message.

So spare us the television appearance, the sham cause. Or if a sincere attempt, so poorly executed as to do more harm than good.

Here is this seasoned mother's message to teenagers: Unless you are prepared to have a baby, and believe me, you are not, show us your maturity. Use protection and use contraception. Condoms can be bought at your local pharmacy, grocery, discount or convenience store. Other contraceptive choices can be gotten by attending a Planned Parenthood clinic. You can click here to find the one closest to you.

I would also suggest talking to a trusted adult before you take the big step. But I know that you won't. Hardly anyone does. The decision is so personal and private and usually made in the dark of night.

On a lighter note, I offer an opinion. Most times two heads are better than one. Take helping kids' with homework. My kids go to dad with the math and mom with the social studies. Science is a toss up.

On math night and every other night? I'm awfully glad their dad is here. And so are they.


Reinvent Dad said...

Excellent post - No, I don't believe she made a "worthwhile sound"....No abstinence (strike one), No contraception (strike two), nothing intelligent to say (strike three).....why does Fox give her ANY press?

Margo said...

24 hour a day news is so worthless it's embarrassing. I only wish they would put up a screensaver of a fish tank or talk about the weather unless there is really something that is news. Bristol Palin? PS - I miss Murphy Brown

Heather T said...

oh, this was great. Very well written. I hadn't thought of it before, but it is an interesting question why some bullhorn of conservative values has not jumped on this teen mother's glorification of unwed motherhood.

Maggie May said...

yes, excellent post. i think Bristol will look back on herself, like we all do, and go GAWD HOLY HELL WHAT WAS I SAYING


Sunny said...

You post reminded me of a movie, which I have recently watched, called "Juno" about a young girl who got pregnant. She decided to give her baby to a foster home, because she realised that they'd take better care of him.

Sinda said...

I wonder if they - she - got pregnant intentionally. Maybe she REALLY wanted to get out of her mother's house, and felt this was the best way? Maybe that's what, in retrospect, she'd wait for now?

blognut said...

Excellent post. I, too, wondered why Fox gave her a microphone when she had nothing to say.

Mental P Mama said...

Imagine all the teen mothers out there without the resources this kid has....they are the ones who ought to be telling their stories. So sad.

Orion said...

i almost feel that bearing a child and/or sexual activity... should require an exam. and not some fastidious questionnaire that no one can answer, something like this...

do you know the difference between a triangle and an apple? can you tell me which of these is a shape? which way is clockwise? if a bear shits in the woods, what color is the sun?

Anonymous said...

That was a good post. It's very sad what comes out of people's mouths.

Glennis said...

How true. While I actually have a positive feeling toward Bristol Palin and how she is handling her personal situation, I simply don't understand her mother's position on this.

In my book it's good that Bristol and her baby-daddy aren't getting married. But back in September that Sarah Palin and her supporters were all touting the fact that they were going to marry. So why not now? What if McCain had won the election - would they have forced these kids to marry just for the sake of appearances?

I think it was disgraceful, actually, for FOX to interview a young girl about her personal situation, and disgraceful for her mother to participate - even more disgraceful for them to pretend that Sarah Palin didn't orchestrate the whole thing.

Deb said...

Fabulous points! That interview disturbed me greatly. I wish Sarah Palin would not exploit her kids for her gain, but it certainly seems like that is what is going on.

shrink on the couch said...

reinvent dad -- three strikes is correct. what was her point? it wasn't her point. it was her mother's point to keep herself in the news.

margo -- funny yes. we'd learn more from a fish tank.

heather T -- it's been amazingly ironic. if it were chelsea clinton or one of the gore daughters, the bullhorns would be nonstop.

sinda -- I wondered the same. So many teens do "accidentally" get pregnant as a ticket out of the house.

mental p -- it would be nice if Bristol used this as an opportunity to shed light on babies born to unprepared families, an appreciation for the support she has received and some mention of a nonprofit who helps young mothers. something.

orion -- good thought. we'll get that right after we approve an exam for buying handguns.

cortney -- and very sad what newscasters will fly all the way to alaska to cover.

g -- yes, the pretending this was all Bristol's idea. if this were the case, Sarah should have stayed gone. but oh no. move over, time for mom to pontificate for the cameras.

deb -- exploitation for political gain is not for the feint at heart.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Good points all. That interview was as bizarre as everything else SP does.

Unknown said...

my hubby and I were discussing this and we agreed she is mixed up. kinda feels she needs to be in her mom's side but did it all wrong at the same time...

I said I plan to offer condoms to our son when he is a teenager because he is GOING to college and I do NOT plan to be a grandma when he is 17. I understand kids have sex so BE SAFE.

Unknown said...

an PS: Murphy Brown was 20 YEARS AGO??? I am so OLD!

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

I have got to say, the benefit of having a baby while my two oldest daughters were teens? The two oldest daughters saw first hand what it was like to raise a baby under fairly ideal circumstances. They are both college grads and in their 20s now. And they are both still childless -- hopefully not forever though, 'cause I'll be wantin' some grandbabies eventually.

bernthis said...

b/w her and octamom my kid is screwed (no pun intended)

shrink on the couch said...

jenn -- yes, bizarre and yes, just another SP publicity stunt.

becca -- and research is showing that abstinence programs are only better at decreasing condom use. so yes, condom distribution central right here.

cheri -- it worked for me. I was 10 when my sis was born. She slept in my room. Those early a.m. wake up calls make an impression!

bernthis -- octomom = oxymoron?

Real Live Lesbian said...

::rolls eyes::

Well said, CY.

Vodka Mom said...

bravo, bravo, bravo on your post.

I just might make you a fact, here it is.

planetransgender said...

Teaching sexual abstinence to youth makes for very pregnant youth. Texas just got slammed by mainstream media for having no sex education or abstinence only instruction.
Anyone who was a ?teen? remembers.

Anonymous said...

Dear me, what a shambles that interview was. Poor girl. She is just an ordinary person after all, made a few mistakes and now we all have to listen to her "pearls of wisdom". Oh I do so hate the fact that we allow celebrities and their children to speak - not that I ever listen to be honest.

I agree with Cherie - my daughter knows first hand how hard it is to look after small babies as she was 9 when my eldest son was born. In the olden days that was how it was - big families meant every knew and even tho there was little they could do to prevent getting pregnant back then (other than abstinence) at least they knew what they were getting into and had some experience to deal with it - and yes, usually a husband on hand.

Young people these days are so lucky in comparison - contraception is so easily obtained. They can have the fun they should be having without getting pregnant or catching anything nasty.

I agree it is easier if there are two of you. Not just for practical things - but just for someone to share your worries and concerns with and stop them running riot and out of proportion (the worries I mean, not the children!).

shrink on the couch said...

vodka mom -- thanks. I need one after that dog and pony show.

kelli -- I sometimes wonder if the abstinence only preachers were high school hermits. Sexual pressure of one form or another was a regular occurance from age 14 on. Who can expect 10 years of holdout?

rb -- oh I absolutely agree. co-parenting to help stem worries, to help talk through dicey or uncertain decisions (and aren't they just about all uncertain?), but mostly mostly mostly for the "united we stand" aspect. when both dad and I say no, the kids wander off in certain defeat.

Anonymous said...

When my daughter, who has A.D.D. and a tendency to make rash decisions, latched onto her first boyfriend last spring (she is 16, he is 19) and it went "serious" immediately, I set up a safety net.

Believe me, I don't want her to have sex at 16, protected or not. She and I have had many, many long talks on the subject. I used to teach on the subject to teens, in a church setting, but with maybe a bit more realistic view than the church often has.

Anyway, I know that the bottom line is no matter what you teach your kid, there comes a time when they are going to make their own decision on the matter. In my opinion, my job is to give her the best information and guidance I can and hope she uses it to make informed decisions.

With that in mind, I set up an arrangement with her pediatrician. I let her know my fears that my daughter would become sexually active in the immediate future and asked her to broach the subject...and to make it clear that she was available to talk to and answer questions AND THAT IT WOULD ALL BE CONFIDENTIAL.

My daughter jumped on that. The pediatrician went so far as to give my daughter her cell phone number so she can call her if she needs to. My daughter does talk to her now and then. No, I don't know what about, but I trust the pediatrician (she is a friend and we discussed in length what my views and expectations are) and feel confident that she is giving her solid advice. It's a load off my mind.

dkuroiwa said...

There are more days than not when I'm not sad that all we get on FOX over here are the dramas and comedies. If this is the kind of "investigative reporting" that they are doing, no thank you.

Is she still single? I thought they were going to get married? hmm...maybe that was just for IF the VP's job was in the bag.

and yeah..i'm with Margo...i miss Murphy Brown, too!

shrink on the couch said...

onebrick -- you're an amazing mom and have an amazing pediatrician! Having a trustworthy adult to talk to in confidence is such a gift.

dkuroiwa -- I would say count your blessings. You are not missing much, unless high blood pressure is your aim.

JCK said...

Your title alone is brilliant. As is the post.

FOX gives her press, because...FOX is, after all, FOX.

And...yes...*SIGH* I so wish I had had someone to talk to BEFORE I took the plunge at too tender an age.

The Girl Next Door said...

Well one positive thing came from this - although Daughter (16) and I didn't actually bother seeing the interview, we heard about it and briefly discussed it. Me: Yeah apparently the Palin girl has decided if she could give one message to teens it would be "wait - parenthood at 17 is not fun." to which my Daughter responded, "Du-h". then I looked at her in all seriousness and said, "Saying no is hard but you'll never regret it. Oh and did you remember your pill today?" and she laughed. [she takes them for non-contraceptive reasons but I do worry about what it means that she takes them?!]

Found you through Mamamilton and love your blog!

Anonymous said...

My interpretation?
FOX thought Bristol would parrot her mother's babble. It was a break of epic proportions for her to say that (gasp) abstinence wasn't realistic. Of course it's not realistic. What she failed to say (and if she had, it would have caused the seas to rise) was that it would have been realistic for her to have used protection. (failing that, some parental guidance might have been nice). But, I’m not under the impression that FOX is reporting realism. Unfortunatly...

Nora said...

Great post. I wonder if she needed the money, that's why she gave the interview...

Stacie said...

And why is the nation looking to this teenager for parenthood advise? Why not ask one of the kids that made it through college, has a career, and then got pregnant? How did she do it? Would she do it differently if given the choice? Why does this "child's" mother insist on allowing her in front of the camera? And where is baby's daddy and why isn't he being asked the same questions? And what do you expect her to say..."I totally regret this child and I ask you to pay for it's therapy when it grows up and sees this bit of bullshit called news"?

shrink on the couch said...

girl next door -- yes, waiting is seldom regretted, no matter what HE says.

asthmagirl -- "I’m not under the impression that FOX is reporting realism" touche!

nora -- no doubt money would come in handy right now.

stacie -- good questions, all. I especially like the first part. Let's talk to women who made it through without an oops pregnancy, who resisted (the few) or used protection (the many). But gee, I dunno. Smart women on Fox?

AnnD said...

Your comment on my blog reminded me to catch up with yours. healing!

The whole family is a joke, especially since 99.9999% of the families out there don't have the finanical or support resources that this girl has...sitting in her designer dress with a baby sleeping soundly on her chest. She's lucky she's so young, you can't see the bags under her eyes as readily.