While life isn’t easy, sometimes our choices make it a whole lot harder. As a pregnancy resource center volunteer I’d visit schools and talk to teens about their choices. I told them the choice to work hard in school would cost them some time now, but it’d pay off with better opportunities later. I also told them that their sexual choices would come with a cost too. A student I met many years ago recently sent me a long note. She gave me permission to share her thoughts:
My friends and I talked about you after you came to our class. It wasn’t as if you were telling us anything we didn’t already know about sex. The scary things about STDs didn’t really make a difference either. I’d been having sex since the year before and I didn’t really care about the future.
You made it seem like getting through school was easy compared to getting a job and living on our own. You said we should get married before we had sex because we’d be older and ready for it. No one I know is getting married and no one really cares who you’ve had sex with.
You talked about single moms and how hard it was. You made it seem so hopeless for a teen mom to make it and how hard it was on her kid. Well I made it. About two years after you came to my class I had a kid, and I graduated when I was 19. While my kid was in daycare, I got two jobs, lived on my own and paid my bills. Most of the guys I liked didn’t stay with me very long. Then I got pregnant again. It’s a lot harder now. I never have enough money and it feels like I work all the time. I see the life some of my friends have and I’m jealous. I love my kids but it’s not easy taking care of them.
I couldn’t afford my apartment so my kids and I moved into my friend’s basement. When I was packing I went through a box of old stuff and found that ‘wait for marriage’ bracelet you gave us. I threw it away along with the rest of my high school stuff. My life sucks and there’s not much I can do about it.
Letters like this depress me. Have we already lost the war, America? Statistics indicate her kids will continue this pitiful cycle of pain—and are high-risk for the kind of life no one wants. Single parenthood is now the norm, and marriage is seen as unnecessary. Who suffers for these choices? We all do. Our nation is crumbling.
Angry fingers can point and blame, but what we need are real families not throwaway relationships. There is a high cost for cheap sex. Now a whole new generation is paying the price. And for those wondering what can be done—reach out to a single mom and her kids. Be the family she needs.