“In announcing on Monday that her daughter Bristol was five months pregnant, Sarah Palin, John McCain’s choice for a running mate, added a quick qualification that might, in another era, have eliminated the potential for embarrassment: The 17-year-old girl was to be married to the 18-year-old father of the baby”. (Kershaw, 2008)
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“He would be the gentleman, she would be the lady, and with the backing of a strong family they would do what was expected of them”. Since Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin announced her daughter is pregnant, teen marriage and teen pregnancy have been hot topics among parents. But it is teenage marriage today, not teenage pregnancy that is the rarity.
Why am I writing paper on such a topic? Well I will tell you why. I chose to write my paper on teen marriages because I am very interested in how the teens get themselves early into the institution of marriage and face problems later. I’m also interested in why they divorce at such an early time in their marriage. The age and the reason of marrying today have changed dramatically over the years. Many young people today are starting to get married at a very young ages and they are doing it all for wrong reasons.
Young generations today rush into marriage without even understanding what they are getting into. Marriage is a lifetime commitment which the teenagers don’t take seriously. Today’s teenagers don’t believe in the name of trust, faith and love. Teenage marriage has become a challenge in the today’s era.
Instead of just talking about how much fun it will be to live together, talk about the aspects of daily life that won’t be so much fun, and how you will deal with that. Some teens want to get married because they feel that it will give them more control over their partner to crush a lot of jealousy issues. One should understand that marriage is a partnership, it’s not about control. Various reasons leading to teen marriage would be pregnancy, freedom, ensuring relationship, religion, living in together, etc. As a consequence of which, teen marriage serves to be a problem when a couple has disagreements over money, over children and also physical or mental abuse.
Today’s youngsters are married young, but their marriage doesn’t last as long. For example, my friends, Mehraze and his ex wife Khushnaz, married at the age of 17, but they are divorced at the age of 19. Their marriage lasted for just 2 years after they realized that their love for each other was just a toss. According to me, they should not have thought of marriage at that age and that time of their life. Both of them were busy in their own lives and both had decided their future goals. Neither of them had thought of getting married at 17. They took such a step because they thought that they were in love and should just go ahead and take an extra step to get married.
I am not saying that getting married at such a young age is wrong. What I am against are the reasons which one chooses to get married. Reasons mentioned earlier are not enough. People take love as a reason for granted, on which most of the marriages are based on. But, unfortunately, it’s not.
“Oh no, there’s a baby on the way. We have to get married”. This is one of the topmost reasons for getting married. Teen pregnancy rate is very high in U.S. Christie Silvers wrote in her article “Can a teen marriage last?” that in the U.S “there are 1.3 million babies born out-of-wedlock each year. Of course this doesn’t include all of the babies born in a teen marriage”. “Overall, 71.5 pregnancies per 1000 women aged 15-19 occurred in 2006”. (Facts on American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2010). Guys normally think that if they get their girlfriend pregnant, then it’s their responsibility to marry and take care of her, which should never be the case. If you are not ready enough to take the big step of getting married and supporting each other, the feeling of taking care of your child should not come to mind. This will only cause confusion for the child and may in turn lead the child to hate their parents. Marriage is not a solution to an unplanned pregnancy.
In the book called Teens at risk, Isabel Sawhill argues that encouraging teenage parents to marry will not solve the problems associated with teen pregnancy. She grants that children fare better when their parents are married than when they are not married, but notes that teenage marriages have an extremely high failure rate. In addition, she claims that by focusing their efforts on getting teen parents to wed, government programs fail to address why teenagers get pregnant in the first place. The best way to reduce the problems associated with teenage pregnancy, according to Sawhill, is to encourage abstinence, but also to teach teens about birth control.
Births to teens have increased in recent years. “10% (Ten percent) of all U.S. births are to teens”. (Facts on American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2010). According to the data from the Natality Data Sets, National Vital Statistics System, “Teenagers accounted for 23% of nonmarital births in 2007”.
Another most common reason for the teens to consider marriage is freedom. They want to get out of their parent’s home. Most teens do not like listening to their parents and feel they know more than their parents. Teenagers don’t like the rules set by our parents. They have a feeling that parents expect a lot from them. If parents have denial for certain person, they might have their own reasons why they think that way. However, many teenagers fail to understand that their parents are really trying to help them. They think that parents are making their life miserable and not giving them enough freedom. Unfortunately, they don’t understand the importance of parents.
Being married is definitely not about freedom. A person has a lot of responsibility including household work, paying bills, etc. and most importantly responsibility and commitment to another person. If couple argues, none can just walk away and leave home. You won’t have the liberty to go in and out as you did before because other person will also be involved in his/her decisions.
Some teens may also want to marry to ensure their relationship. They may feel that marriage would not lead the other person to ditch them. Well, that is not the case. The high divorce rates are sufficient enough to nullify this assumption. “Figures released from the National Center for Health Statistics found nearly half of marriages in which the bride is 18 or younger end in separation or divorce within 10 years”. (Chan, 2002) Eleanor H. Ayer’s writes in her book, Teen Marriage, that: “A girl married at 17 is twice as likely to be divorced as a girl 18 or 19. If a girl waits until she is 25 the chances that her marriage will last are 4 times better.
Another reason why people marry so young may be because of religious reasons. This means having sex the right way. They figure out that if they are going to have sex then they might do it the right way by getting married. This should not be the reason for getting married. Marriage should be based on how much you love each other and not expecting something from each other. Marriages don’t succeed this way.
Another different reason for teen marriage would be of living in together. Teen may want to live in together before marriage but their parents may not agree to the same. This reason would sometimes encourage their parents to sign the papers for their children to get married because they fear the teens will live together anyway.
Tradition and cultures in some countries have also led to teen marriage. For example, the Brahmin community in India is known to practice early marriages. In this community, a girl is searched for a suitable suitor the moment she is born. The girl’s family negotiates for dowry and once the girl is eleven or twelve, she is forced into early marriages to perhaps a man of forty of fifty years. This trend is however on a decline with the government passing “The Child Marriage Restrain Act, 1929”.
Some marriages work and some don’t. Today’s generation live their lives differently. Many marriages between the ages of 16-21 usually don’t last very long. The reason is nothing but the rush for marriage without realizing the outcomes of it. For example: When teenagers under the age of 18 get married, they are just leaving their parents care and are not accustomed t taking care of themselves such as paying bills, groceries, car insurance, etc. Money is the most common which leads to divorce among young adults. Things change when one gets married. Never rush into marriage if you are not ready otherwise the worst is the future. The happiness of the marriage may not last longer when one understands and recognizes the consequences of it.
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The first and the main problem that shakes a teen marriage are over money. Marriage consumes money and time of both the partners. According to an old saying, “Money does not buy happiness” but the fact can’t be ignored that tight monetary situations could create tensions between couples. Youngsters will have to set up a home of their own and bear all the costs of running the house and taking care of the family. They generally do not like to take help from their parents as they have decided to venture out on their own. It is not easy for teens to bear all the financial expenses at such an early age, as they are not so educated to earn a lot of money. As a consequence of which teen marriage turns out to be a costly affair. Also, if one person is frugal and the other is free-spending, the conflict that arises can be extremely difficult to manage.
Financial problems in a teen marriage would often lead to them staying in poverty. Living in poverty would affect the future offspring of the teenage couple. The health and psychological states of the children of teen couples would be affected. It is important to think carefully before getting into an early relationship so that such monetary problems can’t destroy what could otherwise be a very beautiful relationship.
Unplanned pregnancy is the most common problem that the teenagers face. Teen’s body is not ready for pregnancy at such a young age which may be dangerous for the mother. Brides of early marriage are at an extremely high risk for fistulas and they have a higher risk of being infected with sexually transmitted diseases and at an increased risk of chronic anemia and obesity. Francis Hosein states in his article, “Relationship – Teen Marriages” that “Some teens are having sex at an early age of 12 and becoming pregnant and having kids.” He further states to “imagine kids having kids and they (many of them) are having difficulty in taking responsibility for raising their children”.
Lack of experience in bringing up children could generate ill-feelings towards each other. Having to live on their own and with no guidance from adults can cause much strain on the young couple, who have to handle children at an early age. Young women don’t do very well when raising a family. The responsibility that comes in with the birth of a new life is not tolerated by the teens. How can they be responsible for their child if they are not settled in their own lives?
Another problem faced by the teenagers is that of physical and mental abuse. Physical abuse in the context of dating relationships includes punching, biting, slapping, stabbing, and any other method that one person can use to physically harm another with or without the aid of a weapon. Teens at this age are not mature enough. Immaturity often becomes a cause for a broken marriage. Lack of personal maturity can make it difficult for teenagers to handle situations. They often quarrel over petty issues, and sometimes end up in an early divorce. Lack of maturity or self confidence and trust may also lead to jealousy and anger. Jealousy becomes a sufficient reason for broken marriage. Trust is the key in any relationship. Young teen brains are still maturing and they are working through the different steps of growth. Household problems may often lead to physical abuse, which may in turn lead to an unsuccessful marriage.
The next issue that they are likely to face is the problem of housing. Where are they going to live? Will they have enough money to buy or rent a house? Then the realization comes that marriage in their teens would involve the taking up of adult responsibilities and giving up the joys of youth. Teenagers lose out on fun and play by marrying early. Since they have to shoulder responsibility at an early age, they do not have time for leisure and relaxation. Emotional and psychological stress due to inexperience can create disharmony between the young couple. Handling everything on own at such an early age can be difficult and demanding.
Another important problem arising out of teenage marriage is that the teens have to give up on their education after marriage. They are unable to get the time to devote for studies. They miss out on many opportunities in life on account of this. The added responsibilities of family budget deprive them of focusing on their education. Lack of education also doesn’t provide teenagers with good employment opportunities. The partners would have a hard time looking for a well-paying job to support a family because of the absence of a diploma. They are not offered with high paid jobs, since their education level is low.
Teenagers should take into consideration that marriage comes in with lots of responsibilities and that handling these responsibilities is not easy. Teenagers feel very grown up and decide their life on their own. They often feel marriage can strengthen their relationship and solve the problem of teenage pregnancy. It all sounds very cool, but definitely there are many problems to be faced. They would be an added burden to the society if they do not consider the implications of such an early marriage.
Involving into marriage is a real adjustment and even a significant challenge for many couples. Think about yourself at 15. How much had you changed by 18? By 21? By 25? Those 10 years between 15 and 25 are so critical to learning, to development of one’s self, and to life success. It is easy to see why those who attempt the giant step of marriage in the same time period may well be in for a rough road ahead.
The Department of Health and Human Services is showing efforts to reduce teen pregnancies through abstinence from sex. The department initiated programs such as the abstinence education program, grants for community-based abstinence education, adolescent family life program, community coalition prevention demonstrations, and school-based prevention work groups, among others (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002).
According to Christie Silvers, teens should consider some premarital counseling. This would help them take an important decision whether they should be married or not. She also states that the prospective bride and the groom should talk to other experienced teens. This would give them insight on what consequences would their marriage have. She also suggests reading teenage books as a handy solution.
Teenagers do become responsible with time. They do eventually grow and change. Some will grow apart once they are older. Some will learn that they really did not love their spouse as much as they thought they did. Some may also regret the decision of getting married.
The best way to deal with this problem is to wait until you are older, mature and more established in life. One doesn’t want to regret the feeling of lost teen days. One should consider all the fun things that one gets to do if one marries few years later in life. Marrying young won’t make one feel what it’s like to live by oneself or to do things with friends that one won’t do as a couple.
It’s not necessary that teen marriage has to fail. But getting married is not a game. As a stated fact, life is tough for married teens. So it’s a wise decision to be taken in the end. If you enter this phase of life slowly and know what to expect, then teen marriages can be as successful as other marriages.
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