Wow, a scandal involving Bristol, the daughter of Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin. Here are two comments by people on NYT (most of the comments there are inappropriate and tasteless, but I found two good ones).
- Comic. “Am I the only one thinking of Juno ? the movie, not the Alaska capital”.
- Social Policy. “If this seventeen year old girl marries the father, she will no longer be covered under her parents’ health insurance. I hope very much that she will have the health insurance that so many other Americans in the same situation would lack”.
My perspective. It’s unfortunate that this had to become a political event or distraction. I really don’t have problems with any of this (except perhaps the timing). As a 42 year old man who never had a chance to become a parent (and probably never will– unless my luck radically changes), having a child a little early in life doesn’t seem to me like such a tragedy (especially when the parents are college-bound). I have met many women in their 30s and 40s who have profound regrets that they never had a chance to have children. Perhaps some might have wished they went through their teens and early adulthood a little less cautious, a little more risk-taking and –yes–pleasure loving. Yes, Bristol and her husband start out at a disadvantage, economically speaking. But so what! Is a good income all that matters? My own mother was a baby making machine in her twenties, having 4 children before the age of 30 (she married at 21). Now she’s in her 60s. She has done a great job raising family and has been very successful. Was having 4 children in her twenties irresponsible? Who knows? Europe (and to a lesser extent USA) face a declining fertility rate because of deferred pregnancy. Choosing to have a family sooner rather than later might in fact be a desirable social policy.
One myth of the sexual revolution is that humans have absolute control over biological processes; really, can’t we still allow a little bit of randomness to enter our lives? Bristol’s decision to start a family probably was not conscious (even though her decision to have sex certainly was). All we have shown here is that teenagers like to have sex and that if faced with the consequences a number of them will opt for marriage. Time will tell how happy they will be. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Good luck, Bristol!