Teenage Pregnancy

June 24th, 2009

teen-pregnancyDespite steadily decreasing rates of teenage pregnancy within the last decades in our country, this problem remains among the topical issues in modern American society, along with obesity, AIDS and drug abuse. In 2002 the rate of teenage births (from 15 to 19 years) totaled about 11% of all the births in the United States. Annually about 856,000 teenagers become pregnant, and approximately 425,000 become moms. At that, in our country one of three teenage girls gets pregnant before the age of 20.

Teenage pregnancy is, probably, one of the hardest experiences for a young developing individual. It brings to numerous changes in daily life of a teenager, like interruption of study, psychological pressure and stresses, emotional problems, including feelings of guilt or shame, and so on. Pregnancy means responsibility, which requires making serious decisions and being ready to overcome all the difficulties, connected with giving birth and bringing up the child.

As a rule, teenage pregnancy is unplanned, that is why it is accompanied with a number of possible economic, psychological and medical problems. First of all, it is necessary to make a choice between termination of the pregnancy, giving birth and parenting the baby or giving the baby for adoption. This question is among the hardest for a pregnant teenager, because, in addition to own viewpoints and feelings, teenagers are usually under heavy influence of their parents, friends, teachers, or just circumstances. That is why they are more likely to choose abortion.

Children and Divorces

June 11th, 2009

Divorces are among the most common and devastating social maladies of our times. In recent decades, almost half of the marriages in the United States sooner or later ends with separation. Overwhelming majority of such break-ups is connected with scandals, humiliation and other negative outcomes. Undoubtedly, separation of parents impacts enormously on their children. As a rule, the first reaction of children on the news about the divorce of their parents is confusion, denial, fear, anxiety or other psychological response. These reactions frequently grow into hard emotional disorders, like aggression, anger, disobedience, vulnerability, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc.

parents-fighting1Within the time, emotional anxiety decreases and the child starts learning to cope with the divorce. Usually, separation of parents brings a lot of different changes in the child’s daily life, and most of them are negative, like loneliness, stresses, new obligations, etc. Therefore, a child can disobey the situation by weird and unusual behaviors, failures in school, withdrawal or other behavioral patterns. Long-term outcomes of divorce on children include fears to lose the attachment for the parents, fear of being rejected by one or both of them, fear of misunderstandings and tension between the parents. All these fears considerably affect psychological condition of the child.

Another common reaction of a child on divorce of the parents is blaming himself in being a reason of the separation. In such case the child will do everything possible to put his parents together again, and failure to do so will cause more suffering. Such situation can result in loss of trust and respect of the child to his parents. Recent studies showed that children of divorced parents usually demonstrate poorer performance in high schools and colleges, have lower abilities to handle interpersonal problems and conflicts, have difficulties to establish long-term relations based on trust, etc.

Finally, the most striking impact of divorce on children is growing up with a single-parent or step-parent. Besides, the child has to remain constantly in the middle of continuous tension between his divorced parents. This affects psychology of children and teenagers to a great extent, therefore the risks of alcoholism, drug abuse and being involved in criminal activity are considerably higher for the children of separated parents. Also, the children of divorced parents are twice more likely to divorce their own spouses in the future.

Certainly, there are situations when parents’ divorce brings relief to the children and causes no negative reaction. For example, if a child is tired of permanent quarrels and confrontations between the parents, their break-up can be accepted by the child as freedom from a burden. But in anyway, sooner or later the child will start missing his withdrawn parent, because parental love and connection can not be replaced or forgotten. It is very important for divorcing parents and other people around to help the children of divorced parents in coping with the difficulties they face.

Working Parents, Good or Bad?

June 4th, 2009

familyJust several decades ago it was usual for an American family to have father working hard outside and mother staying home and bring up the children. But escalating requirements of modern times resulted in the necessity of constant increasing of family income. Very often both father and mother are forced to work full day. In such cases they can not properly care about their kids, because the work takes a lot of efforts and time. Frequently little children have to stay alone at home, or be under the supervision of another adult: a relative, a neighbor, or a professional childcare specialist. And, in many situations it may not be good and advantageous for the development of children.

I myself know so well, what it is like to have both working parents. Before I was born, my parents worked as clerks in a huge publishing agency. After giving birth, my mother quit  and was completely dedicated to little me. Then, when my younger brother came to this world, of course, the needs of family began escalating. Mum tried to find a part-time job, but soon she started working full-time again. As to taking care about us, our parents decided to use help of somebody outside of the family. In the beginning, mum asked one of her friends to look after us,  then she tried to use some childcare specialists, but she could not find any reliable one. As we had no relatives in our city, there were only strangers, who used to take care about us. In summer we used to be sent to the farm of our grandma.

The hardest times for me started, when parents realized that I had grown up enough to take care about myself and my younger brother. So, all the responsibilities of taking him to and from school, preparing lunch and supervising his activities laid on my shoulders. It was hard for me. I truly love Tom, but in our nature we are very different: I like calm surrounding and prefer staying home, reading or listening to music; my brother, on the contrary, was always very active, so he liked spending time outside with friends, making me worry, whether he was safe and sound on the streets.

working-mumObviously, there were a lot of positive effects of good income received by my working parents. Father had a successful career and now he became a chief manager of one of the departments of their agency. Mum is a marketing manager. Three years ago we moved into a big and very comfortable house, where I finally received my own room and some “space” to build my own daily life. Besides, me and my brother visited very good schools, and we could easily afford all the reasonable things we needed. But, in anyway, we had some lack of family care: I can see it clearly from the behavior of my brother, who learns many new things from his street friends, not form the family.

So, what I have learned from this experience is that parents must do everything possible to give more attention and care to their children, as much as satisfying financial needs of the family allows doing this. One of the best solutions in such situation, to my mind, is parents working outside in shifts: for example, father works in the morning, and mother works in the evening, though such decision may result in smaller opportunities to develop some good professional career. But it must be the compromise price to make the children feel loved, safe, happy and properly cared about.