An issue to watch: maternity leave for students

Not simply b/c I teach, but here you’ve got a situation where an 18-year-old is having a kid… she needs time to heal, time to be a Mom.

Any reason why she shouldn’t be able to arrange something with the school? I can’t think of one. A pro-natal perspective would definitely want to encourage this, and she’s having kids when her body is best suited for it.

One of the serious problems the western world is going through is a drop in birthrates because our current setup makes it really hard to have kids at the ages most appropriate for the job. As many people smarter than me have noted, this is a serious social problem. If we’re going to avoid demographic decline, or even the sort of demographic collapse that big chunks of Europe are seeing, we seriously need to both de-stigmatize and encourage this sort of thing.

And it ought to be a good sell to business, as well. Gals who are past the “intensive daycare” stage by the time they’re into their late 20s are a much better bet not to simply disappear out of the corporate world once they have their first kid… making them a much safer investment for their companies.

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  1. Alex

     /  January 9, 2008

    I would agree – I don’t see any problem with the leave to make arrangements. Schools make arrangements for students who get major illnesses where they’re out for several months so why not this? I would prefer though that the same right be granted to the father and not just the mother. Our US society in general does not give enough time to BOTH parents to bond with the child and get ready for all the life upheaval that comes with a child.

    But I know….I know that this will never happen. Instead someone will say that this policy will promote teen pregnancy…blah blah blah.

  2. No, I would not say that. I think that unwed children having children is a GREAT boon to our society. In fact, while we are handing out condoms to 13 year olds, why don’t we give them subscriptions to Hustler Magazine? At the same time we can give them “CARE” packages…like cans of Vienna Sausages with fancy Ritz Crackers and tube-tops and free mullet haircuts.

    We should stand behind the right of the ignorant to have litters while the rest of us pay for them and their mobile-home cousins. That is great. The consequences of our personal decisions be damned, I say.

    If we are going to start along this road, though, we should be ready for the consequences of that decision. For kids recovering from drug use, we should be willing to give them extra time. We should be willing to let the “juvie” kids make time for what they missed as well. Think that having a kid by your 12 year old boyfriend is tough? Try recovering from a 12 month stint in prison. THAT is hard.

    Children deserve consideration, and I do not argue that. I ask the readers, what decisions, then, are NOT worthy of consideration?

  3. celogo

     /  January 10, 2008

    Oh, the things I could say about this issue! Unfortunately, they would be VERY politically incorrect. We are not training our children to become adults… we are training them to become perpetual children. The dangling carrots we hold out for them are rotten. At the same time that UNICEF’s Convention on the Rights of a Child is an abomination, it also reawakens the world to certain biological realities of human development.

    Long story short: If the 18 year old wants to take maternity leave from school, I say give it to her! Better than her dropping out? I don’t know that answer. But I suspect some would say it is better for society if she continues to be edjumacated.

  4. Happycrow

     /  January 10, 2008

    But remember, folks, she’s an adult. Her failure to do well in school earlier, or else her simply falling on the opposite side of the age-enrollment lines, is something else entirely…

    To answer your question, James, since we do not ALLOW teens to take on adult responsbilities (from renting an apartment to simply being able to write a legally-enforceable contract), I think that as soon as you have a 17-y.o. in this situation, rather than an 18-y.o., this is an issue that lands directly and unequivocally with the parents. It *likely* will with the gal in question, too… but I draw the line at anything that forces a teen who has substandard legal rights to confront any issue of the State without the protection of his or her parents. There must be NO direct State-Child relationship (yes, teens aren’t children, but legally…) where there is a competent parent available.

  5. I think there are two entirely different ways that this could spring. If our aggregate longevity continues to increase, then a period of procreation before education might make sense — except that given the lack of fiscal preparation for the burden, this’d be a great way to issue in the Hillary-esque Village(TM) where the children of the young become the shiny New Proletariate, groomed for all the low-paying menial jobs that the Village(TM)’s elite need to keep them comfy and well-caffeinated.

    Or we could go the other way, long term, with more and more automation leading to robots eventually handing more & more of the thankless tasks, with most blue-collar workers essentially becoming foremen instead of “workers”. Once the population declines significantly enough, Evangelicals and others with a decidedly pro-natal position should help achieve some sort of homeostasis, and maybe we’ll all see less congestion on the freeways.

  6. I agree with you Happycrow, actually. I get despondent sometimes when I look around and see what I see, but of course her getting an education is terribly important. As my lovely other half pointed out, the OTHER half of that pregnancy question (the fellow) frequently is able to just walk away while SHE has the responsibility of raising the new rug-rat.

    The only real problem with making special cases for students with specialized problems is that it tends to get out of hand from an administrative viewpoint. The state requires that students have their asses in the chairs for a set number of days. So, as you have a number of kids getting preggers at different times, are the schools to have seperate classes just for those girls (as some schools already do) or do you require the teachers to have two seperate curriculae? One for the regular students and one for the kids that need 4 extra weeks to catch up? I do not know what a good answer is for that.

  7. I can just see the notes from home now…

    Please excuse Lashandra from the next 4 weeks of school as her no good boyfriend done knocked her up.


    Lashandra’s Mother

  8. happycrow

     /  January 10, 2008

    “For fourteen years, she kept her virginity,
    A damn fine record, for this vicinity.”

    -epitaph, can’t remember which cemetery.

  9. happycrow

     /  January 10, 2008

    I don’t, either.
    I’ve got a lot of students who are parents, though…

  10. blackpine

     /  January 11, 2008

    My solution was to have students graduate after recieving their certifications. No social promotion, no age cohorts, just get you certifications for a subject at the appropriate level and finish high school in two years or five years or however long/little it takes for you to pass a certian performance test given every month of the year by the State in certain subjects. Take time off if you want. You can get your high school cert when you’re ready.

    For the natalist argument, I’m pro baby, and it needs to be said that the fertility pattern of the 20th century is historically abnormal. The marriage is later, the babies are later, and because of an industrial schedule, there are now interests that compete directly with having a baby. If you are for high school pregnancy, wouldn’t you want to go for high school marriage and family models, too? The healthy argument is to support a more historically aligned teen family, not teen pregnancy.

  11. blackpine

     /  January 11, 2008

    By the by, the ideas about juvie and and drug rehab are actually pretty brilliant. Ask me about Super Dave when I have more time to type.

  12. Teen families are difficult, though. Some folks will meet a mate that early… lots won’t. But the OPTION for it, I think, should be supported. Folks tend to look askance at folks getting married early, and while there are serious problems (imagine being married, but not allowed to rent a flat on your own), I do think it should get more respect.

  13. celogo

     /  January 11, 2008

    blackpine wrote:
    The healthy argument is to support a more historically aligned teen family, not teen pregnancy.

    I agree. The reason teen families are difficult is a societal issue, the direct result of every “innovation” since the industrial age. Stressing intelligence OVER intuition is a tremendous error. Ideally, both would be valued equally. Placing the former over the latter is beginning to be seen as the bs hype it is… I know of 4 teenage girls, from different backgrounds, religions, educations, that have recently “gone out on their own” at the age of 17. Are they adults? Not by a long stretch. But a culture that requires you to take on adult responsibilities, (ie. work, pay bills, move on up to university at 16) while telling you to party hard devil be damned, is spawning some weird trends.

  14. The issue that hasn’t been addressed directly is state-funded maternity leave, as the 18-year old in question in the Denver Post is at a public high school. Considering that the US doesn’t have state-funded maternity leave, no matter what the age of the mother, asking for additional funding (because different tracked curriculums, classrooms, lesson plans, and whatnot, cost taxpayer money), then I don’t see maternity leave for teen moms happening on any widespread scale, no matter what the argument is in regards to the public good, “it takes a village” etc. etc.

    As for teens getting out earlier than the traditional four-year high school — that’s what charter high schools/dual-credit (for the high-tracked set) and “alternative” high schools/GED (for the low-tracked set) are for. Unfortunately, teen moms who drop out often do not have the time nor the internal discipline to study for their GED on their own.

  15. celogo

     /  January 11, 2008

    More likely their birth control failed, but perhaps that is indicative of poor internal discipline. Usually it is simply indicative of not having the money to pay for what others’ parents gladly shell out to protect themselves from scandal.

    One of the 17 year olds who left home before Thanksgiving was in fact dual tracked and taking PJC courses since she was 16. She might as well be as messed up as the impoverished young mother down the road who has to work nights at the local caberet. A big THANKS to POP CULTURE, which is preparing most teenage girls for nothing more than pole dancing! Which, by the way, is known as the fastest, cheapest way to work your way through university without taking out a loan.

    It’s all bs. Time to face it. It is horribly cruel to tell a young lady that her “first love” is nothing but a fancy. You are telling her all of her mind/body/spirit synching is screwed up.

    Making young gentlemen hold out until marriage at a ripe old age so they can finish degrees, find a stable job, and have Gold AMEX is equally destructive. Leads to a lot of trying to recreate himself into what he thinks is desirable to women.

    Meanwhile, women are being culturally taught that all men want is a really hot bedroom.

    The paradigms are not working. There is absolutely no nurturing involved in any of the scenarios. There is a presumption that it is all a game, a form of maturation. It is in fact the opposite.

    Of course I expect guffaws all around as I write that the ancient Hebrew paradigm makes perfect sense to me. *Young* man asked for a *young* lady’s hand in marriage. An engagement began, which required the young lady’s parents to accept him into their home as a son. The young couple was to live first as brother and sister, in the parents’ home, for some period of time prior to enjoying the full benefits of marriage.

    You can see where this concept would fail in modern society. What a shame…

  16. James

     /  January 12, 2008

    OK, om this one I am calling BULLSHIT.

    We have standards of living by many cultures (take your pick) by many centuries (take another pick) and by many continents (take your last pick).

    Throughout the ages and throughout the cultures, have you ever heard of ONE of them that would allow you to take their daughter and raise (rape her, capture her, hold her for ransom) without a cost? The medieval europe was a cold place, but you generally could not just take whatever woman you would please and just do what you like without SOME sort of recompense. I am sorry, but I cannot see that a devaluation of a moral sense as being justifiable just because there are more people wanting a sense of moral justification for their moral transgresses.

  17. blackpine

     /  January 13, 2008

    James, I’m not clear on your points.

    1. Throughout the ages and throughout the cultures, have you ever heard of ONE of them that would allow you to take their daughter and raise (rape her, capture her, hold her for ransom) without a cost?
    2. I am sorry, but I cannot see that a devaluation of a moral sense as being justifiable just because there are more people wanting a sense of moral justification for their moral transgresses.

    Not to be dense, but can you elaborate a bit more on this and the link to the discussion?

  18. The unwed mother was and is a burden on society no matter the place and time.

    If little Johnny talks his beloved into sex and then walks out on her, he is still responsible according to a moral sense that seems to transcend societies and times. Likewise, parents of Little Johnny and his beloved are the ones that ultimately have to deal with the progeny, and as a result perhaps should have taught a little discipline.

  19. blackpine

     /  January 14, 2008

    Thanks for the clarification.

    Let me reciprocate: unwed mothers aren’t always a burden, only always unwed. I argue that they should be in a family unit, as it’s beneficial to them. There is a problem in the west with the deferrment of motherhood for education during about four or five years when a woman would be married and having children. Our current educational model competes with motherhood, marriage and family. Our current professional and industrial model competes with motherhood, marriage and family. The competition is stifling birthrates. The discussion then revolves around how to make them not compete.

    Just to shift the center, I’ll take the extreme. Flatly, teaching the virtuous discipline of cutting your time of prime fertility in half is not demographically competetive, or historically viable.

    Jack and Jill should be able to be married and having kids while also getting an education or working. The opportunity cost is too high otherwise. My case is in three points:

    1. Socially speaking, you pay for the kid either way, your choice is simply now or later. One, you have fewer kids. Fewer kids means fewer soldiers, doctors, workers, students, researchers, global market share, etc. Two, if you get done educating a woman to do full time professional work, and then she gets married and starts a family, you now have a distracted and tired worker who had to take large swaths of time off to take care of the kid because two incomes are required for most families. Or she can neglect the kid. If allowed to have the kid early, the baby years are behind her when she enters the full time workforce. She is more productive and earns more: voila, the savings is passed on to you.

    2. Historically, no society has ever done thirteen years of mandatory, non productive (apprenticeship, journeyman, hands on labor) education, with four to eight more years tacked on out of social expectation. Bluntly, the world today is built on the centuries old, tried and true, bedrock solid tradition of teen pregnancy.

    3. Discipline is one thing, but celebrating the moral virtue of ignoring the wholly natural reproductive drive for half of its existence is a one way ticket the Shakerville, population: zero. Anorexics think they have great discipline, too. Get the family started earlier, which for me works out to marriage and then children.

  20. Well, let’s follow that logic. The fastest growing population segment in the Metroplex area is the Hispanic population. They have huge numbers of teen pregnancies, and, a great many of those are paid for by taxed based social services. They also have the very single highest drop-out rate of ANY population segment, and are, as a result, faced with high unemployment rates and low-paying manual labor jobs. That also means that society has to take up the slack in the form of taxpayer monies. I am not seeing a whole lot of societal benefit there. There are segments of ALL of the populations groups that do this, as well, of course. It is, in general, frowned upon not because of some ancient taboo, but because unless the pregnancy is supported, it makes the life of the girl a lot less fun. There are reasons that families do not jump up and down out of joy when their unwed teen comes home knocked up.

    Forget celebrating moral standards. Think in terms of pragmatism. Those ancient morays were developed out of necessities. It turns out that thinking with your gonads rather than your brains gets you into uncomfortable places. In the olden and golden days, you could, in fact go over and knock up your neighbor’s little girl. You had to have two things: 1. Permission from her Dad and/or 2. the intent to marry her and support her. Otherwise, you were likely to be the recipient of little lead “justice bullets.”

    It was common in ancient Spain to marry off one’s daughters as young as 12 years of age. To get one of these, you had to pay for a dowry and a Church wedding with the blessing of Daddy, of course, so you had to already be established. I can guarantee you an unpleasant death occurred if it happened any other way. In america, after the invention of the very useful “marriage enabler” called the shot-gun, if you knocked up Daddy’s Little Girl, you had better be willing to stand in front of the alter and make nice.

    These things simply would not have been unless there were pressing economic and social needs that simply HAD to be met.

  21. blackpine

     /  January 16, 2008

    I will be marketting a new brand of ammunition “Justice Bullets: They’re for Bad Guys!” Your royalty will come every quarter by mail.

    We agree that there needs to be marriage involved before the kids. Nobody is for hockey sex natal policies (12 guys charging the crease, a shot a minute). Dowries in conjunction with vigilante action worked to eliminate extra martial action as far as I’m concerned, but the downside is the introduction of vendetta or legislation of sex lives. Also inasmuch as they are a financial way of saying “You must be at least this tall to ride my daughter” they do circumvent the desire of the girl/woman involved. To me, they are somewhere on the Mussolini of effectiveness.

    So, how do we encourage the formation of families in the teen years as a competing model to the unwed mother scenario, and how do we keep educating the mothers as a priority? There is not an established causal effect, but the correlation is strong between uneducated teen mothers and uneducated children patterning that behavior. If the mother was economically viable, and there was a (social, cultural, economic, pick one) system that took care of this effectively, then that would be ideal.

    The social system we have now doesn’t educate the mothers. It just feeds them. It doesn’t have a bang up way to take care of the kids either. Another strong correlation is between a woman’s general level of education and pregnancy patterns. That can be a chicken egg argument.

    But, if you redefine the argument as not one of “too many babies on public teat,” but instead “we have the babies, but the mom needs to be educated and the kids need to grow up to be doctors and lawyers without breaking the public coffers or any of that `takes a village’ hippy crap.” then different solutions open up.

    Lighting candles/curisng darkness: What about state recognized marriage upon birth? Mandatory paternity tests, legal liability to include the grandparents until the kids are of legal age. That would incentivise a whole lot of non teen sex, or intelligent planning of teen families. Lawyers are the ultimate buzz kill, let’s use their awesome power of motherfuckery for good.

  22. Now THAT would be a novel approach! The court proves paternity and the BANG! Instead of a shotgun, the government tells them that they HAVE to provide a means.

    I like that except that I do not like government intrusion in to private spheres. It is worth consideration.

    My point is that ultimately is HAS to be the families that intrude into these matters, otherwise we are going to have the fools telling us even more how to raise our kids and what to think and what do do about it. If we coddle those that make bad decisions over-much, we are teaching the rest of society that it will be ok to just go ahead and fuck whomever you want and the consequences be damned. That is what is currently eliminating entire generations in Africa and India right now. To hell with that, IMHO.

  23. celogo

     /  January 17, 2008

    @ James:
    we are teaching the rest of society that it will be ok to just go ahead and fuck whomever you want and the consequences be damned.

    Sorry… that’s been taught for several decades.
    TV, radio, internet is just pumping up the volume, making sure the message is indelibly etched into even the micro creases of the populace’s brains.


    The government can’t even manage to get documented fathers to pay alimony/child care fees. Funny suggestion, but it isn’t happening.

  24. Just throwing it out.

    Gov probably isn’t the way then. What about commercial then? Or a nontraditional class arrangement for single parents/young parents wherein a cohort of young parents are studying together with an IEP that adds maybe a year or so to the stay in high school, but allows the mom to be in the same building and/or room structure as the child while they study with a teacher/tutor? It could be modeled after some self paced stuff like an online degree program. It would take some money at the outset, but again, pay up front or pay later.

  25. Alex

     /  January 17, 2008

    Of course all of you seem to be assuming that these teens will even be ready to be good parents even if families step in an provide guidance. Being a parent takes maturity and responsibility. Making the teens of both sexes be responsible for the child is only the first step – but they’re probably still not ready for it. Childhood IS lasting longer these days because most children and teens are not taking up jobs and other responsibilities until after college. Therefore – making most of the population wait until after college to have kids may not make biological sense, but it can yield children which are better raised (and therefore better future contributors to society) than those raised by not-out-of-highschool teens.
    And I know I’m generalizing. Certainly there are teens ready now for this level of responsibility, but it’s not for the majority of the US or EU population because of how society lets childhood go on longer. There are no longer real rites of transition from childhood to adulthood now, other than being able to drink at 21 and vote at 18, and therefore you sometimes have young adults with the emotional maturity of children raising children…and it doesn’t work very well.
    I’m not saying the current system works well, but, it doesn’t strike me that any of the other things that are being suggested here will work if the “parents” we’re talking about are not mentally or emotionally ready for any of it.

  26. blackpine

     /  January 17, 2008

    I have hypothesized that the reason we have longer adolescence is due to a locak of a serious challenge. How young was Alexander when he led and army to comquer Greece and the Levant? Or, for more fun, Google what an eighth grade education was like in the 1890’s. And also, in terms of being a parent, all you need is sex. Being a GOOD parent is different. There are some tricks involved, but we really aren’t much good at transmitting those tricks.

    As you point out, there are no traditional lines from child to adult. Likewise there are no courtship guidelines (look at our divorce rate), no child rearing traditions (look at the literature on preganacy in High Schools: it’s like the guys who did “Reefer Madness” decided to talk about babies), really no traditions at all. It’s not a failure of the children, it’s a failure of the adults for not having any other guidance to impart about rainsing a family that doesn’t have “Get rich” as the universal first step.

    Here’s a counterpoint. I did ESL for a number of folks getting their GED. They were in their 30’s or 40’s, and in this example, Mexican. Their tradition was to have a large family. The father and the oldest man child would work. The son would drop out of school to earn money for the rest of the family so they can go to college. The Mom was the logistical support person. Father and son earned the money and she saved it. She kept father and son healthy and they worked while the sun was up every day but Sunday. The other kids had three of the hardest working folks kicking their asses about their grades because “I don’t GET to go to school!” And when everyone had been taken care of in their fashion, then the eldest would go to school and they would help when they could. That is a plan for a poor family to be large and to go to school. It’s not perfect, but it’s a hell of a plan.

    Currently the advice handed out in school is to get a degree, because a degree will raise your earning potential, and with the earning potential, save for and provide for your children. Guaranteed provision ahead of time is not worth consideration. All children must be planned. Unplanned children are mistakes and are foolish. To me, that is like training people to go into space, by saying “Step one: get a rocket.” Want a family? Step one: be rich. Okay, what if we’re not? Step one addendum: wait until rich. Well, hell. If I have a million dollars, I can do damn near anything. That’s doing it when it’s easy and everything is comong up roses. How do we get and raise kids when things are tough?

  27. Well, I guess what I am using as a basis of understanding is my own experience. I am in the business of raising teens, and, believe me, society at large is little or no help. Frequently, it is counter to the ideals and values that we have tried to teach our teens.

    It IS possible that my wife and I are living in such a rare atmosphere that we are just too far out of the norm to be a good guideline. If that is so, I still maintain that IS the failure of parents to do their jobs. My wife and I, though, I think were a lot like other new parents in that we had near to nothing in terms of money, just like my own parents had very little when they started. In this house we have emphasized education to my two boys, and, oh yes, Daddy has had the “keep yer pecker in yer pants” talk a few times. I am explicit in my talks and I provide realistic examples of what STD’s and babies can do to your life.

    The other point to this is that my wife and I both knew from an early age that a college degree was our ticket out, and we have both achieved a fair amount of success. Nothing spectacular, but we are surviving. ALso, we have not so far… far…..had one of my boys bring home a knocked up little girl. I cannot claim total success yet in the ‘family raising’ venture, but at least at this point I can sort of see the finish line coming up.

    If I can do this with my wife, I have the guilty pleasure of wondering why other people cannot fight the good fight like we have done. My wife’s family did, and we have, and their families are raising happy and successful children (we have had a number of our neices and nephews getting married of late). There is not a living soul among us that have needed “society” or the government to tell us what our values should be or how we should live our lives.

    In short, I still believe in the ancient tradition of personal responsibility. Those families that feel the need to make their children work is a place that is unfortunate, but it does not abrogate them of teaching their children the survival skills necessary to make the most of their lives.

  28. Society is decadent. To break down the word, I don’t mean to say that society is hooked on too much chocolate, I mean that it’s messages are de-cadent, as in antithetical to the cadence of the helpful values of our culture.

    Children raised in a decadent society, (without something as strong as the family model that you instill James, and fantastic job btw) will have almost no connection to successful value systems. Education and training are ways that they can be transmitted. Therefore, single or not, pregnant or not, we’ll want people in school.

    That said, there is a disadvantage to the children raised in the model you have: fewer children. Having children isn’t inherently irresponsible. Children are what we need. The current models of education and profession restrict the time for child bearing by half at least, the frequency by a third, and the numbers by half. To expand the length of time and increase the frequency with which a generation can produce the workers, leaders and thinkers of the next generation, there needs to be a realignment of priorities. The current model may not survive a century, and with its demise may come the demise of our entire value system. So, motherhood needs to be concurrent with something, and the period of time devoted to secondary education is not an unreasonable time slot for this to happen.

    Problem is, there is nothing socially, culturally, economically legally, NOTHING, in place for this. Any one of those would work. Day care or an alternate instructional model for parents isn’t such a bad idea. No one here is pro-knocked up. But face it, there are people ho haven’t completed school who are having more kids earlier, kids who will probably grow up without any concept of the values you hold dear, than your children. That should change. We need more people who have our values. Constitutional republics rock. Two ways are to improve education, and get pro natalist.

    So what are the ways you would have approved of your 16 year old son getting married without it interfering with his education? Could it have happened? What would it have looked like?

  29. Those are excellent observations and questions.

    The first thing that I have to tell you is that the infrastructure of our values are that of the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, there would have been no question of two things: 1. the baby must be had. 2. We would be financially responsible for said baby and the girl that brought it into the world. If marriage turned out to be out of the question for any number of reasons, we would suggest adoption, but if that were also out of the question, then we would do our best to provide financially for the needs of woman and child. That is also part of the “Keep yer pecker in yer pants” talk, by the way. The laws of the Republic of Texas…er..ooops…I mean the State of Texas prohibit marriage until the age of 17. We would have to have some very serious talks before a decision would be made there.

    I have to disagree with you on one point in specific. Your children need to know that having children at a time when you are not able to provide for them is a great problem for your kid’s own family and their chances at having a more successful life. Having children can, in fact, be inherently irresponsible to your self, your families and the child.

    According to the belief system that me and mine have lived by, having children is not just celebrated, but it is required. Marriage between two Roman Catholics means much more than just living together until we die. It means that when children come into our lives, we are to do our singular best to distinguish in their minds the difference between what society will tell them and what the truth of living happy lives actually means in realistic terms.

    I would point out that a true and active church life IS a part of society even when a lot of society hates us for doing that. I am not just arguing for the Roman Catholic Church as being the only path of teaching values that give children necessary survival skills, but that is the tradition that I have the most experience with. The point of this is that there ARE social systems here in the US that DO teach these skills and many would be well advised to think about getting them and their kids into a Church community of some kind.

    Ok, then, what about those kids that do not have parents of sound moral values? We have to ask ourselves some really important questions. There is one belief that says that ALL of society should be protected under the umbrella of the Government Nanny. That is what a lot of politicians are arguing now, and some of those are in the Republican Party and running for President. Me and mine do NOT want the government telling us how we should raise our kids, what schools they should go to, and what kind of health care that we should expect. We are doing just fine, thank you.

    There is another political thought that says that we should let Darwin do his job and eliminate the weak through attrition. I happen to agree with you that we most certainly want the kids to go to school, married or not, and with children or not. Even out of the income that my wife and I share, we give to the government and we also submit a good part of our income to charities that help those that are in need.

    I propose a third outlook. Let those places in society that do provide real charity continue to do that. Get Big Brother out of the picture as much as we can (we have to admit that the No Child Left Behind Program has been a colossal failure) and let the local communities and States take care of their own. Fewer Federal demands mean that there is more money flowing around in the local communities and the demand that local churches stay out of education and child-raising charities go away.

    If we want more children to have our values, there is only really one way to teach them those values. Get the government out of the way and let us raise kids THAT ARE EXPOSED to religious values. That should not be such a shock to anybody. Let the local churches do what they really do best, and let parents raise kids along those lines.

    It is my personal belief that when the feds run education, we are up against a wall.

  30. blackpine

     /  January 18, 2008

    Powerful, powerful stuff.

  31. James, your latest comment sums up my thinking on this subject. Yes, Powerful stuff.

    I do want to add that the whole subject of ‘family values’ is a misnomer. It is RELIGIOUS values that make the difference. Now, does that mean that if we take our kids to church and pound those values into their heads that they won’t get involved with teen sex? No, but… It certainly ebbs the flow of promiscuity. It is very diffucult to be a teenager with all these voices telling them that its “OK”. Those with these religious values are ridiculed.

    Billy Joel echoed the strains heard by so many of our youth.

    “You got a nice white dress and a party on your confirmation
    You got a brand new soul
    mmmm, And a cross of gold
    But Virginia they didn’t give you quite enough information
    You didn’t count on me
    When you were counting on your rosary
    (oh woah woah)

    They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait
    Some say it’s better but I say it ain’t
    I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
    the Sinners are much more fun…

    you know that only the good die young.”

    Without a religious education/conviction why would they not listen to this lie?

    James, you are right on!

  32. celogo

     /  January 18, 2008

    Maybe it’s just that I am facing having a teenage daughter in fairly short order. I think blackpine’s question, “So what are the ways you would have approved of your 16 year old son getting married without it interfering with his education? Could it have happened? What would it have looked like?” is very important.

    We, too, are raising our children in the Roman Catholic church. That does not mean we agree with the presumption that “you are not an adult until the government says you are.”

    I still have a LOT of reading to do on the Theology of the Body, but what I have read points me in a direction to consider that God had enough wisdom when he created male and female to reach physical maturity at certain times. Seems to me we are failing to achieve coordinated physical, spiritual and mental plateaus. This is contrived by a society that gets a kick out of mocking the young and extending adulthood beyond reasonable years.

    Ideally, should my daughter find her best friend to be the young man she wishes to marry, said young man would have become, by that point, part of the family by “adoption.” Then our very clear expectations of what kind of life he should provide our daughter would not be so much of a sudden, shocking command as a growing awareness of “this is how our family should be, and I am so looking forward to working for it!!!”

    Given that “adults” have 2-3 year engagement periods, it would not bother me in the least if the young ones realized they were intended for each other at age 15. the preparations for a home and family could easily take place between 15 and 17, 18, 19, or 20.

    That is where I want my children’s focus to be. Might sound weird, but it is a lot more real and tangible that chasing down a piece of paper to put on the wall of your apartment while you are deep in debt to the government for financial aid.

    There really are a ton of people out there that do not believe university is necessary for simple joy and a contented life. There are extremely responsible 14 year olds getting hardship driver licenses, working hard to earn money to put food on their parents’ tables, while at the same time working for stellar grades and getting something out of school. The ones I know are just fantastic people.

  33. Well historically the Church has never been a real stickler for ages of married people per se, as those ages have, as you pointed out, changed from place to place and era to era. During the Middle Ages, the degree of relationship was a far more important question to the Holy See than how old the bride was or was not.

    I do agree that our laws in the US are screwy, as you can drive at 16, go to war and vote at 18, drink and smoke when you are 21, and so on. There is really NO place that says “you are an adult now.” Still, I have to agree with Alexis that just because the body becomes mature, the mind does not always follow so quickly. Good parenting skills have a lot more to do with mental and spiritual preparation than it does one’s physical readiness. For those reasons, the Magesterium requires that all marriages be proceeded by a lengthy round of counseling, and it also maintains that all children should be conceived within the bonds of marriage. I personally think that regardless of the ages of the bride and groom, those are very sound requirements.

  34. celogo

     /  January 22, 2008

    I think that was my point – the degree of the relationship is the most important criterion. Parents should, actually from my vantage point, must be able to objectively gauge the relationship and aid in its development. I was simply outlining the parameters we are working on. It won’t matter whether the children are 18 or 26.

    Alexis’ point is well taken. My point does not counter it. Rather, I strive to help my children achieve intellectual/spiritual/physiological parity at every age and stage.

    Absolutely agreed on the Magisterium’s requirements, as well. The Church is our source of perspective in all things, most especially the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

  35. Unfortunately the Magesterium does not have a quick answer for what to do with unwed, pregnant mothers in public schools.

    We are going to have to come up with that one on our own, it seems…..

  36. celogo

     /  January 24, 2008

    Are you kidding? Boy, glad you never told Mother Teresa that. She took the following VERY SERIOUSLY.

    34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

    Most people want to know how to change society! They are so hung up on the larger picture that they completely miss their mission to let their faith impact those closest to them… not the whole world. Simple things are best managed… simply.

  37. Did I mention that I was talking about so called “public schools”? I.E., those places where religious thought, unless you are a Muslim, is now more dangerous than a bomb? Just try and make a policy change in the local school board by throwing Holy Scripture at them.

    The private schools that I know of generally have a place for ‘special needs’ students that the publics just do not have the money to take care of. That is great if you can afford them.


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