Some girls are ready to be a mother at 14
Recently, author Hilary Mantel raised some eyebrows when she said that girls are ready to be a mother at the age of 14. Biologically, this may be true, but can our society handle this?
As the rate of teenage pregnancies all over the world is on the rise, a statement made by prize-winning UK author Hilary Mantel gives us cause to pause and reflect on the situation. Mantel raised some eyebrows when she claimed that girls are ready to be a mother at the age of 14.
“Having sex and having babies is what young women are about, and their instincts are suppressed in the interests of society’s timetable,” 57-year-old Ms Mantel said.
She claims that she was capable of running a home when she was 14, and thinks that other women are similarly capable. It is her view that education and careers can be put on hold and pursued later as well. Society, she says, has to become more flexible in accommodating and accepting women’s sexual development as different from men’s, who reach their sexual peak at a later age than women.
Biologically, females are most fertile in the years following puberty. But many argue that physiological maturity and psychological maturity do not go hand in hand. Being a mother is more than bearing a child – it requires emotional maturity as well as financial resources.
Moreover, modern society is structured in a way that isn’t conducive for teenage mothers to provide a healthy lifestyle for themselves and their children. Society does not equip people of that age with the necessary skills or provide them the appropriate opportunities to be emotionally and financially independent.
Teenage pregnancies lead to various social problems and complications because teenage mothers tend to be single parents and with little or no academic or professional qualifications.
Thus, a 14-year-old is often not fit to be a mother because she isn’t taught how; and because society, her family and the father of her child may not be on her side. Nature may dictate that a 14-year-old’s body is ready to bear children, but society has decided otherwise.
Since it is more desirable for a child to grow up with both a mother and a father in stable socioeconomic conditions, and with the same opportunities that other children receive, the problem of teenage pregnancy is pertinent and needs to be addressed.
But maybe, rather than writing off teenage sexual practices as mere moral decadence, the understanding of various contributing factors, both natural and social, to this phenomenon may take us one step further in the effort to bring its negative consequences under control.