Bristol Palin gave her first interview ever to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren for On The Record while she was up in Alaska. She wanted to talk with Greta about her unexpected pregnancy, her new son Tripp, and teenage pregnancy in general.
Some thoughts… first I think Bristol Palin is a very brave young woman. It takes a lot of courage to go on national TV with any issue, let alone something so personal, and being so young.
Secondly, I think she portrays an accurate picture of the challenges of being a teenage mom. When she said, “I’m not living for myself anymore. It’s, like, for another person, so it’s different” reflects the reality of parenthood in general. You have more than just you to think of. This isn’t fun and games, teenage sex and an unexpected pregnancy come with some real consequences. But amazes me how glorified teenage pregnancy has become with some. The thought of sharing the news with her parents was also, “harder than labor.”
While she doesn’t regret having a new son – children are a blessing and she can’t undo the past. She did definitely say this is not ideal.
VAN SUSTEREN: Any sort of — I mean — and I realize, you know, what joy a child brings to a family. But was there any sort of thinking that maybe — did you have any sort of sense about, I wish that maybe this would happen a year or two from now, rather than now?
BRISTOL: Yes. Of course. I wished it would have happened in, like, 10 years so I could have a job and an education and be, like, prepared and have my own house and stuff. But he brings so much joy, I don’t regret it at all. I just wish it would have happened in 10 years, rather than right now.
I am amazed when I talk with kids about sex how many of them think they are ready for the challenges of parenthood. I was 24 when I had my first child and had been married for three years. It was challenging then, and I felt ill-equipped. Kids need to recognize that at 15, 16, 17 they are just not ready for the challenges of parenthood. Now by the grace of God some make excellent parents. Many do not. I believe because of the support that Bristol, and the father Levi, have that they have a pretty good chance of doing well. I wish that were the case for most of the teenage parents I know.
She reiterates later in the interview that it is best to wait.
VAN SUSTEREN: Teen pregnancy — what’s your thought on that?
BRISTOL: I think everyone should just wait 10 years.
VAN SUSTEREN: That’s just — why?
BRISTOL: Just because it’s so much easier if you’re married and if you have a house and a career and — it’s just so much easier.
They touched on abstinence and contraceptives a bit as well. Bristol Palin stated, “But I think abstinence is, like — like, the — I don’t know how to put it — like, the main — everyone should be abstinent or whatever, but it’s not realistic at all…. Because it’s more and more accepted now.”
Unfortunately this how many view abstinence. “Not realistic.” I don’t want to criticize Bristol here because I think this is prevailing attitude in culture, and is even reflected within our churches as well. I again appreciate her courage and honesty, and I can see that she knows that abstinence should be the standard. Criticism is leveled abstinence-only education saying “Virginity pledges are not enough.” Abstinence-only education doesn’t work. Wouldn’t you rather have a kid use a condom if they are going to do it anyway?
Who would say no to that question? Of course I would say having a condom is better than nothing at all, but I have a problem with the question in general – “if they are going to do it anyway?” It is a false assumption.
Here’s the deal folks – virginity pledges are not enough – if that is as far as you go with it. Ceremony isn’t helpful. A plan is. A kid is not going to decide to be abstinent while they are going hot and heavy in the backseat of their boyfriend’s car or in their girlfriend’s bedroom after school while her parents are at work.
The decision needs to be made way, way before then. For abstinence education to work you need to go beyond “just wait.” And talk about why they should wait, and how to wait. Put in place strategies and standards. Talk about dating/courtship and what they should expect from their boyfriend/girlfriend. Talk about places where it is easy to give in to temptation and then avoid those situations. A pledge for abstinence doesn’t happen spontaneously it takes a thought-out strategy.
The main problem I have with comprehensive sex education is that it sets kids up for failure. It literally expects kids to fail. I can say this from having been a recipient of it as a kid, as well as, a observer of it as a youth professional in schools and juvenile facilities. The premise is, “you are going to do it anyway” so here’s a condom. Abstinence, yeah that’s the ideal, BUT if that doesn’t work for you here’s a condom. Kids are expected to fail, and so they do.
I think another lesson can be learned from Bristol Palin’s interview – how parents and families should respond when teenage pregnancy does occur. Governor Palin dropped and answered some of Greta’s questions.
Kids who find themselves with an unexpected pregnancy need love, support and grace. Governor Palin mentioned that “perhaps we are an anomaly” I think in some ways they are. They do, however, provide an excellent model of how families need to pull together in those times. Provide support, but not shield their the expecting parents from all the consequences.
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