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    Childcare must look easy to many SA teens...

    One of the reasons I suspect teens fall pregnant is that the upbringing of far too many of our children is so very inadequate.

    It must look easy to our teens to have a baby!

    Don’t worry; I know teen pregnancy is about poverty, lack of hope, fatherless homes, under-socialised young boys and so on...

    But I watch while young people have babies. The boy’s parents may pay a ‘fine’ but seldom any monthly maintenance. And he can always just deny paternity...and never do anything. The effect of teen parenting on boys in South Africa is often distressingly miniscule.

    Then the girls do go back to school (which I certainly approve of). But then for the paltry sum of R100 a month they can get their babies and small children looked after in a metal shack ‘ECD centre’. Or if this is too much then the babies and small children get sent to another family household where the teen mom no longer has any responsibility for the child. The baby then moves into a secondary relationship with someone who, although they may love them, probably feels them a burden and also will not feel a deep responsibility to their total well-being.

    I am told ‘we care about our children’ that is why we take them in. Well maybe, but not in the deep way that they need caring for. I don’t see that at all. All I see are inadequately cared for children traumatised by the multiple changes of caregivers in their first 3 years.

    Once children get a little older what happens to these children? They have to walk to school on their own, go to the shop, cook, clean and so much else because ‘they owe us this’. Their schooling, socialising, rest times are all subservient to the adult’s needs of their services far too often. 

    Teachers make the children responsible for the cleaning of the classroom – which is actually the teachers and the caretaker’s responsibility. Easy to look after children in South Africa – just make them responsible for their own care and environment ...then blame them if they don’t achieve.

    Then when children show emotional disturbances especially in their teen years often in acting out in ways that make the adults angry like drugging,’ cheeking’ adults, refusing to help in the house, straying out late, drinking, engaging in too early sexual experiences, then people say ‘ These children are naughty, and look what we have done for them!’ Well sorry to disappointed you and put the responsibility on your shoulders but you reap as you have sown. If you have put too little care into your young children you WILL reap problems in their adulthood.

    And our teenagers show us how little care we have put into them all too often. It is easy to bring up a neglected child. Not much work at all...

    Teens who have experienced the care all their lives that all young human beings really need will know that having a baby is not to be taken lightly. They will know that parenting requires commitment, responsibility, time, money, stability, consistency and unconditional love. They will know it in their bones, it will be lodged in the neurons of their brains by the care they received. That is why children from stable, loving homes do not fall pregnant so often...they have had enough love and don’t need to act out their problems.

    So all I can say is that we take such bad care of our children that it does look easy to be a parent in South Africa...

    It hurts me to see these inadequately cared for children destined to repeat their lack of care in their own children.

    It has nothing to do with any particular culture – rather with the culture of poverty so endemic in our land...

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