By Ann Tatko-Peterson
Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 at 1:47 pm in Teens.
The baby’s birth is the top article on People.com. Even before his birth, the baby had receive thousands of gifts from around the world, according to his great grandpa. About the only thing clouding this picture is the fact that the baby in question belongs to the teenage daughter of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The articles gush about how the family is so excited, and we certainly don’t want to begrudge them their happiness. But let’s not forget that Bristol Palin is part of an alarming statistic — an astounding number of unwed (for now) teenage moms.
By propping her up, highlighting the celebrity factor and glorifying all those baby gifts, we send mixed messages to other teens. What they see is the fun stuff, not the lifetime commitment, the financial hardships and the reality checks that come with being parents while still essentially kids themselves.
Case in point: I was buying my stepdaughter a gift at Hot Topic before Christmas. I spent less than 10 minutes in that store, yet crossed paths with at least five teenagers toting their babies/toddlers. One of them kept yelling at her baby to stop crying (yeah, that works). Another one was busy looking at shirts while her 3-year-old kept wandering toward the entrance way leading to the mall. (Twice the youngster made it out the door.)
Bristol Palin is luckier than your average teen mom. The baby’s father plans to marry her. She has a solid (if not exactly private) family backing her. Money doesn’t appear to be a major obstacle. That’s not the case for most teen moms, 74 percent of whom draw from some sort of government assistance. Ask them where the articles are about their lives or how many baby gifts they got?