Parenting in the eyes of a teen

Turner Fenton Campus
Brampton, Ontario

By Joanna E. (Grade 11)

The issue of teen parenting is one that is controversial and always a hot topic. In the eyes of many youth, parenting looks like a very easy task. Feeding, bathing, and changing a baby seems very easy and a lot of fun, but this would only be true if the baby were a Tyco doll. There is more to raising a child than just making funny faces and buying clothes. Too often, parenting is not taken seriously.

It has been proven that parenting is one of the hardest jobs that people partake in, but consider the possibility of that parent being a 15-year-old who goes to school and holds a part time job as well. Unfortunately, not only is this a possibility but it is reality for many teen girls in Canada.

Being a parent and a teen has proven to be a deadly combination that is constantly occurring at an alarming rate in this day and age. In an attempt to cure this growing problem of teen pregnancies, a parenting course has been created and activated in many high schools across Canada. The main focus of these classes is to make teens aware of the facts, myths, trials and hardships of parenting.

In the parenting course, methods range from re-enactments of parenting situations to actually caring for a computer controlled and monitored baby. They are designed to give students the most realistic parenting experience possible.

These computer babies have been the most effective form of teaching for this course. This mock baby is very realistic in sounds and features from the crown of it's head to the tips of its toes. Absolutely no features are left out, even those that identify the sex of the infant. This baby teaches students techniques that will help them to cope with children. "This course will help me in my career, that is to be a teacher," Jen W. said to Static (Turner Fenton's Internet newspaper) reporters.

After having the computer-controlled baby to take care of for only two days, the students realized an old revelation." Taking care of that baby was a lot of hard work. It required 24 hour attention and it always kept me on edge. It takes the responsibility of two,'' Andrew H. said with exhaustion.

Additional challenges that were discovered included middle of the night feedings and changing the baby, spending up to 30 minutes trying to stop the baby from crying and always having to have the baby close by.

Not only are lessons learned about the baby but things are learned about themselves as parent. Reality begins to kick in as the students realize the attitudes needed for the successful raising and caring for a child, without having a nervous breakdown. "A caring attitude is needed which includes tolerance, patience and understanding," Jen W. said in a recent questionnaire.

When other people see the mock baby in the arms of a teenager, it can ignite negative and positive reactions and affect the way that the baby is cared for, as well as the self esteem of the parent. "The way that people look and whisper when I walk through the halls does not make me feel like a star but it makes me feel like dirt," said Jen W.

"Kids are a life long commitment. If you are thinking of having a child, take care of Baby Think It Over (brand name of the computerized baby) and it will answer a couple of your questions. If after you have taken care of the baby and you are confident that you can handle a child, then good luck," Andrew H. says as words of advice to all teens.

Fortunately, these programs have successfully been able to change the perspective of many people on the world of raising a child. Hopefully, the lessons learned will stick.

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