When you start out in life, you have (or should have) a purpose, a goal, a dream that you aspire to achieve, a position you wish to attain, a person you wish to become. Without some vision of your future, your fate is cast to the wind and becomes to the product of chance and accident. You don’t want that. Even if your plans change, you have a plan to start with.
This plan may involve education and training; so you enroll and study, learn and graduate. You seek out internship and mentoring opportunities. You land a great first job in which you’re learning while you’re earning. You’re challenged. You’re feeling confident. You sense a measure of mastery over your present and your future.
And then you’re involved in an unplanned pregnancy. Forget the romance novels you’ve read and Hollywood love stories you’ve seen on the silver screen about how young love conquers all. It doesn’t: rent and groceries conquer all.
A pregnancy that occurs before you or your partner are financially or emotionally ready for it–before you’ve discussed it and planned it and prepared for it–is the greatest obstacle to upward mobility there is.
The reasons are numerous. You may still be a child yourself, regardless of your age. You may not be in a committed relationship, and even the strongest of relationships among the mature people who know how to communicate and adjust are challenged with the onset of a planned pregnancy, not to mention an unplanned one. Your emotional and financial resources should now be prioritized on the health and well-being of your child, not you. And giving birth, as any parent will tell you, is just the start of a lifelong commitment. Anyone can have a baby. Not everyone is up for being a parent.
An affluent friend of mine sat with me not long ago over a Guinness (or two) and bemoaned the fact that, despite his resources, he and his wife had calculated that they had spent over $450,000 raising their daughter. The young lady had just graduated from college and was unemployed. So, guess what? He’s still there for her, and he always will be. Because that’s what being a parent is all about. He loves his daughter dearly, but that’s the reality of raising a child today. Know it before you blow it.
If you’re involved in an unplanned pregnancy, and you’re the mother, you have options. None of them–raising a child alone, raising it in a less-than-loving environment with limited resources, giving it up for adoption, or having an abortion, are remotely appealing.
If you’re the father, the prospect of marrying or living with a woman you may or may not love can create resentment, as can child support payments for the next eighteen years. If you’re not ready financially, and even if you are, you have strapped a proverbial piano on your back. Not a great situation as you’ve just started to climb the corporate ladder, or any other ladder in life.
You’ve limited your educational opportunities, your job opportunities, and future opportunities to meet someone who you might really love and want to start a family with. The truth is harsh: many people don’t want to date or marry a person who already has a child because the ex is always there, and that ex is not always pleasant.
So what do you do? It’s simple: use a condom or don’t have sex. Guys, don’t bet your life–because that’s what you’re betting–that a girl who says she’s on the pill really is. Gals, don’t bet that a guy who says he loves you and will be with you forever really will, especially when you get pregnant. I’m not even going to talk about sexually transmitted diseases.
And don’t think that this phenomenon is limited to calculating, lower class baby-mommas who just want a monthly check from the government. It happens in all social classes, for a variety of reasons, to a wide range of people. The only thing that unplanned pregnancies have in common is that they rarely turn out well for anyone, especially the child, who had no say in the matter, and deserves a good home with loving parents.
Protect your future. Protect yourself.