Congratulations, Bristol Palin 

Bristol Palin is pregnant again. 

She doesn’t want sympathy and she doesn’t want lectures. Presumably because she was engaged until last month and isn’t now. But possibly also because she’s somewhat of a public figure and she doesn’t want attention. 

I do want to say something though. 

I want to say congratulations. 

Because at age 24 and after having had one child already I’m sure Ms Palin is old enough and wise enough to have this baby because she wants to. 

There is nothing wrong with having babies young and there is nothing wrong with having a baby as a single mother. 

When I first thought about women having their children young, as a teenager I took in that message we’re all fed: It’s terrible to fall pregnant young. The worst. Your life is over. 

I held this view through my twenties until two things changed my thinking.

The first: I made friends with some amazing women who happened to be my age and who happened to be young single mums. They’d had their kid, or kids, and they were charging ahead with life – working, traveling, studying. They’d got their pregnancies and their baby years out of the way. Made me think. There’s no right time or good time to have a baby – and there are advantages to having your children at any age too. 

The second: In meeting with an amazing group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women for a work consultation group, the point was made to me that since Aboriginal women (and men) have drastically shorter average lifespans, for some people having their children young feels right. I’d never had the point made so clearly before. I’d always felt that young parents, especially young mothers, should and could be supported better to continue their education. 

No one had ever pointed out that there might be an upside, though. 

The only sad thing I see in Ms Palin’s situation is I do wonder if she intended to fall pregnant, or it was a case of religion-induced shaming around contraception that meant she still preferred to take the risk. That’s her business, but it is of course a sad problem that shouldn’t be perpetuated. And it’s a shame given she felt so strongly about it all she continued to advocate for abstinence for young people when it clearly doesn’t work. 

No one should feel so ashamed of having sex that they risk an unwanted pregnancy or STI. 

Or that they announce a pregnancy and feel they have to fend off sympathy and lectures. 

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