Posted by Prymface on Sunday, November 21, 2010
Everyone knows that, in general, outcomes for teenage parents are poor. Not everyone knows that this has nothing to do with being a teenage parent (income, qualifications, employment status etc were the same at 30 for teens who miscarried according to the UK's 1970 Birth Cohort Study (1970BC)) - although people should know this and if I could achieve anything in life (apart from being the most amazing mum ever!) it would be that people understand this fact! Also, not everyone knows that teenage parents are more likely to be living with an unemployed partner at 30 - This IS to do with being a teenage parent (none of the 'teenage pregnancy miscarriage' sample in the 1970BC did, although the sample was small it was STILL statistically significant).
The thing about living with an unemployed partner is that you can make one of two choices. You either both decide not to work and live on benefits (although I wouldn't say this was an actual choice) OR you work and you support that other person. If you work, whether it is part time or full time, whether it is low pay or high pay, you get no extra income to support your partner than you would if you just lived with your children (tax credits do not take the extra adult into account). This means you and your children have less money by living with someone. Sometimes this is a bit shit.
I always thought that this choice was a way of life for everyone. From the 1970BC, 12% of teenage mothers lived with an unemployed partner at 30. 12% are making that choice. On top of that, partners are less likely to have post-16 qualifications and more likely to be on a low wage when they do work (by around 30%). I'm not saying we should change our priorities and instead of studying for that degree to get our dream job we should instead go chasing a sugar daddy (although sometimes I admit I do wish I had kept this in mind!). I am simply saying that if this is a factor that affects teenage parents more than others, then it needs to be addressed.
Now, I'm not gonna go all David Cameron on you. I don't think marriage is the answer to everything. In fact, I don't think it's the answer to anything (although divorce often is!). Naturally, I think women should be free to leave relationships and be financially independent. But when you've had to fight hard for that independence it can be pretty tough to then find yourself also financially supporting someone else who, maybe you didn't entirely intend to. Ok, you can say this is choice, but personally I've never judged anyone by their earning potential, and even though at times I've wanted to, I've not chucked someone out for not working. Clearly, 12% of other young mums haven't either.
Unfortunately, I don't have the answer. Is it better to treat everyone as independent individuals, rather then the whole couple/single confusion? Or shall I just set up a dating agency for young mums and millionaires?!?
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