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The importance of planned parenting

It is so important that adults plan when they want to have children. Far too many do not plan. Hence, they have children too early in a relationship, or too early in life, or before they are emotionally and financially ready to have one. Far too many people allow the thrill and passion of sexual behavior to dull their thinking process and objectivity. Unplanned pregnancy increases the risk of creating dysfunctional families or individuals.

Planned parenting also concerns teenagers. Far too many teens are engaging in risky sexual behavior that leads to pregnancy. Many teens are not even aware that what they are doing can result in getting pregnant. Sadly, there are a few females who experience their first menstrual period after their first pregnancy. (According to plannedparenthood.org, although it’s uncommon, it’s possible for a woman who hasn’t yet had her period to become pregnant, because young women ovulate – release eggs from their ovaries before they have their first period.) They did not think clearly or plan. Their passion takes control. Many teens use sex as an escape from a painful environment. Sex makes them feel wanted and appreciated. But soon, the birth of a child not planned for, changes their lives negatively. Depression, anxiety, confusion, financial burden, dropping out of school, emotional and physical abuse, are some of the results of unplanned parenting.

What is planned parenting? The Planned Parenthood organization says, “Planned parenting is the practice of measures designed to regulate the number and spacing of children within a family.” People planning to be parents ask themselves the following questions: Why do I want children? When will I have children? With whom will I have children? How many children will I have? How often will I have children?

The question, “When will I have children?” proposes a few more questions: “Should I be married?”; “Do I want to have a baby while single?”; “Is it wise to have a child as a teenager?” Unfortunately, teens, and even many adults, do not stop to think when or why to have a child. In most cases, there is no decision. Pregnancy just becomes a bi-product of having sex. Some never think they can get pregnant because they are using some form of contraceptive. Thus, there are far too many births in our country that are not planned for or expected. As implied earlier, this increases the chances of children being abandoned, abused, neglected and even malnourished.

Here is an important principle to consider – a person (male or female) should have children only when they are a self-supporting, autonomous person. It is my view that individuals should be married before having children. However, the status of marriage does not guarantee that pregnancy would be expected or wanted or that the couple is emotionally or financially prepared to have a child.

Let us look at a few statistics about teen parents in The Bahamas from the Bahamas National Statistical Institute: In 2018, about 61 percent of births in The Bahamas were out of wedlock. In 2013, there were five births to mothers between ages 10 and 14, and 441 births to mothers between ages 15 and 19. Were these planned births? I am not suggesting that all births out of wedlock were unplanned. I am implying that the younger the parent (male or female), the greater the risk of it not being planned for.

The sad truth is that having children too young or unplanned increases the risk of having an unwanted child; raising an unhealthy child; increased child emotional and physical abuse; child neglect and abandonment; being treated as less of a person; having lower self-esteem; having long-term or short-term depression; and dependency on the wrong person(s) for help.


BENEFITS OF PLANNED PARENTING

Planned parenting is important because it has great benefits to mothers. Mayo Clinic states that some of these benefits are: if you are below age 20 or older than 35/40, reduces physical strain of childbearing, reduces the number of maternal deaths. Reduces the risk of ovarian cysts. Planned parenting has great benefits to children. Ensures better chances of survival at birth, promotes better childhood nutrition, promotes physical growth and development, prevents birth defects. Planned parenting has great benefits to fathers. It allows fathers to keep a constant balance between their physical, mental, and social well-being. It increases the father’s sense of respect because he is able to provide the type of education and home environment.


WHAT TO DO

Here are a few things to do to facilitate planned parenting: Choose to wait until you are an adult, and over age 21. Choose to wait until marriage. If you are impulsive or have difficulty controlling your sexual impulses or cannot wait until marriage, at least use contraception – condom, contraception pill, or other methods. Pause and think before starting any behavior that can lead to pregnancy. Focus on developing yourself emotionally and intellectually before having a child. If you are from a dysfunctional family, take time to heal your wounds before bringing a child into the world. Remember that both men and women are equally responsible for planned parenting. It takes a penis and vagina to make babies. Plan wisely when you will use yours.

 
• Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to question@soencouragment.org, telephone 327-1980 or visit www.soencouragement.org.  

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