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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Teen moms asking for maternity leave

Time to weigh in on the national stir caused by pregnant students in a Denver high school who are asking the school board for at least four weeks of maternity leave so they can heal, bond with their newborns and not be penalized with unexcused absences, according to an article in The Denver Post. Denver has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state.

The stir began when counselors from East High School approached the school board saying the policy at their school is unfair because it forces new moms to return to school the day after being discharged from the hospital or face being charged with unexcused absences. District officials are reviewing the policy, which currently allows schools to set their own rules.

I'm torn. Returning to school the day after giving birth is physically impossible. That's why employers give maternity leave. There is a whole Family Leave Act that Congress passed to allow mothers to stay home to care for their baby. Shouldn't teen mothers also be covered by this?

But then these girls are irresponsibly having unprotected sex and getting pregnant. Should they be rewarded with four weeks maternity leave? This could possibly create more unwanted pregnancies because girls are trying to get out of school.

One blogger writes: Its a no win situation, but a real problem that at least is being addressed.

It's a controversial topic with no easy answer. What are your feelings?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Teen moms have enough hurdles to face with the consequences of unprotected sex without being penalized for truancy and possibly being forced to leave school without a diploma. Let us think of the future of the children they have chosen to parent.

Besides maternity leave, these moms should be getting counseling and support through their pregnancies and after the birth. 1 in 4 women are rape victims and many of these girls may have experienced this trauma without reporting it. They should also get support to breast-feed and to finish their diplomas by studying from home. Teen pregnancies are high-risk, and they may very well be dealing with a premature baby. Shame on a school district that would force a young girl to halt her education because she can't make it back to school right after giving birth. And if she is making an adoption plan, she is going to be in shock for a long time. Saying to her, "Well, you don't have a baby to deal with so get back in school!" is inhumane. She may have placed her baby in another family, but she is still leaking milk, hormonal and going through one of the hardest things imaginable. Imagine how that affects this girl as a mother!

All parenting options should be explained to them before and after the birth (including adoption with the pros and cons of open and semi-open adoption explained to them). In addition to adoption education, they should have parenting classes. They should have older mentors assigned to them that they can ask for assistance if they have a hard time adjusting to motherhood. They should be made aware of programs that can assist them so that they can get the education they need to support themselves and a child.

An adoptive mom in Massachusetts

4:28 PM  
Blogger Kori said...

"But then these girls are irresponsibly having unprotected sex and getting pregnant. Should they be rewarded with four weeks maternity leave? This could possibly create more unwanted pregnancies because girls are trying to get out of school."

Wow. um. . . Wow. I can't imagine anyone having a baby to get four weeks off school. That implies a combination of planning, foresight, and irresponsibility that I find hard to reconcile. There are other ways to get time off school, and most of them don't require planning so far in advance.

A young person becoming a parent has enough challenges; she should have support in caring for their child and herself, not be punished in ways that make parenthood harder.

(An appropriate, and virtually self-imposed punishment is the loss of social life associated with early parenthood.)

12:36 PM  
Blogger Grant said...

So I just heard about this new show on nbc called Baby Borrowers. What are your thoughts on this? Basically takes clueless teenagers and has them take care of kids for 3 days. Seems kind of interesting to watch, but would you let your kid on there? Or your teen?

4:13 PM  
Blogger Pollyanna said...

I guess this is an appropriate answer to this question about teen pregnancy. I did see the commercial for this show and thought it might be a good show for teens to see before deciding if they should be having sex or not.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Grant said...

I've heard people talking about this show being an advocate for abortion. I seriously doubt that, but people overreact about everything. I'm sure nbc welcomes the controversy.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a family support worker for teen moms, and as a professional in the field, I know that there is nothing better for the baby than being able to spend that critical time with his/her mother. Both mom and baby need that time to bond. New parents also need that time to learn about their babies without added stress of school. Research demonstrates that there is a higher instance of child abuse when parents are under stress. And I have never met a teen who would even consider getting pregnant just to miss school; most are terrified or in denial when they find out they're pregnant. Maternity leave isn't a "reward". It's NECESSARY for a healthy baby, a healty mom, and a healthy relationship between the two.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Sheila Huerta said...

I really agree on this post. It sounds very similar to concepts in a book that I've been able to preview before it is published. The book is called Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel. You can learn more about it here: It will be published in May. Feel free to contact Leila if you might be interested in reviewing it for your blog.

7:28 PM  

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