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  • Karen Edmond

Old Fashion Co-Parenting Can Be A Win-Win For Black Teen Mothers & Their Wonderful Babies Too!

Per a 2007 study on youth pregnancy between 15-17 years old, "approximately 750,000 teen pregnancies are resulting in 400,000 teen births in the United States." Per a CDC 2017 study on the same subject matter, "a total of 194,377 babies were born to children and adolescents aged 15-19 years old." That means three out of ten girls will become pregnant before 20 years old at least once in their lifetime here in America. Being a teenager is a tough hurdle in life to jump over. Being a Black teenager and pregnant is three times tougher.


A portion of these young people become pregnant by a family member or stranger who raped them. The other group of teens who will more than likely become pregnant is because they are sexually active. These at-risk kids typically are at-risk children left in a two-fold vulnerable position that is not of their making. Before young people even got into the said situation, there was a lack of healthy community nurturing activities for them to access. The second factor is not having any consistent adult supervision to assist with preventing such real-life occurrences.

The socio-economic factors that have fathers and mothers working not just one job each but two jobs each because of unresolved cost of living factors from 1980 have fractured the Black family here in Monmouth County. And this fracturing has left Black children to figure out life on their own unsupervised or valued by their community. Unfortunately, various media is designed to perpetuate African American youth on television negatively. Hence in a learned behavior mannerism, a portion of vulnerable youth begin to act out their part provided by mainstream America's media.

According to a report named The Role of Parents and Families in Teen Pregnancy Prevention: An Analysis of Programs and Policies by Jessica Silk and Diana Romero, parental involvement is necessary to prevent teen pregnancy. Unfortunately, most Black teenagers don't have that particular luxury on the most part. However, this life-saving resource is available via other cultures not associated with North American Chattel Slavery direct descendent survivors. Different cultures did not endure slavery as long as those in North America's Black family framework. Hence their societal norms are still intact. (Meaning grandma and aunties are in the wings to help raise next-generation children, which is a norm per their culture.)

Unfortunately, said pregnant Black youth is put in a mentally traumatic situation when realizing the results of their immature choices. Leaving said child to either terminate the pregnancy or carrying the pregnancy to full term. Our society currently utilizes abortion methods as if it was a contraceptive device, which is wrong. All tho America does not perform as many purposeful terminations as other countries do not mean that the number of discontinuations of pregnancies or any less disquieting. Targeting and intervening on behalf of children at risk for pregnancy, on the one hand, is the answer per a study titled Risking the Future: Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy, and Childbearing, Volume II: Working Papers and Statistical Appendices. By Sandra L. Hofferth.

Although challenging, the other reality would be for the immediate family to co-parent with the teen mom to raise unplanned little newcomers. And here's why. Per an article in Psychology, Today by Susanne Babbel MFT, Ph.D. Somatic Psychology titled Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) - Does It Exist? Delves into the psychological cause and effects that occur in grown single women choosing to have an abortion. Some of the post-traumatic symptoms are:

  • "Guilt." Although many of the study population had no religious affiliation, many women experienced a grieving cycle within themselves. And this is nothing new. Studies dating back to the 70s confirmed said long-term re-actions.

  • "Anxiety." The fear of not being able to get pregnant post said action.

  • "Numbness. A form of depression common with post-traumatic stress disorder."

  • "Flashbacks." Abortion is a surgery that happens when a woman is fully conscious and aware of what's actively going on. And lastly

  • "Suicidal Thoughts." The trauma of abortion has lead grown women to suicide. Or risky behavior such as drug addiction that tends to lead to an early death.

And if this procedure can negatively affect grown women, how much could it affect 15-17-year-old children?

The other alternative is for the pregnant teen to carry the pregnancy to term and give the child up for adoption to strangers. Unfortunately, the grieving cycle and depression connected to giving a child up for adoption are uniquely the same as terminating a pregnancy for most but not all mothers. Researchers claim that when a teen mother allocates her child's raising within the family unit in a "co-parenting" methodology, the young mother does not experience any of the traumatic effects of sending her newborn child to live with strangers. Studies also confirm that young mothers grow up to be competent mothers, obtain general education, and receive higher education to be fully self-sufficient providers for themselves and their young child or children. Stability and safety within the family could make a world of difference.

The Black family had a tradition of utilizing "extended family" principles post-slavery. This community support revolved around a tight-knit community that watched out for each other. It was customary for a child to have both the grandparent and their parents residing at home. On the norm, this type of setting provided a safe, nurturing space where children not only felt secure but confident. The family's original homestead provided a home plus land where the family could reside in the long-term without the threat of homelessness. In this living standard, most children tend to excel educationally. Black families had strong ties to the Black church, an institution they collaborated with other families to found.

The Black church provided a measure of principles and quality of life that the Black community mirrored. Unfortunately, because of systematic racism, stabilizing resources were absconded along with homesteads from Black families. Hence, Black families found themselves lacking life-saving resources. And that circumstance, in turn, made it challenging to help their children.

This trickledown process led to Black families not working as a unit but as meer individuals, on their own, with no help from one and other. Before working as a unit within the home and in the community led to the population's ability to have the political pull to ensure that their tax dollars would provide community activities and recreation halls. Plus, character-building activities that once came out of local Black churches prepared said youth for higher learning and not early pregnancy or incarceration.

(Melvin B Tolson (centre), who led his Wiley College debate team to a famous victory against Harvard in 1935, and inspired the film The Great Debaters. Photograph: Courtesy of Wiley College/Willey College)

Using this old fashion method of a unified family plus community worked, successful post-slavery, and this method could work today. Plus utilizing those principles can give Black infants a chance at life and save their mothers from the traumatic effects of raising a child on her own during a period when she is a child.

Thank you for reading. You will find the links I refer to helpful when understanding the need for family units to co-parent with teen mothers. Another hope is to see the possible rebirth of Black institutions that could provide refuge for the overwhelming amount of Black children left in foster care here in Monmouth County and abroad. Many Black children are currently being placed in White families with underlying racist belief systems shown by Trump supporters and moderate democratic liberals.

Please review the TED Talk video

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