Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Thoughts on the Sarah Palin Drama

I don't really like personal drama, but I have to admit I've been addicted to absorbing as much information as possible about the Governor.

First off, all of those rumors about the baby being the daughters were horrible and I knew immediately they were not true. Unfortunately, it turns out that the eldest daughter, Bristol, is pregnant. Unfortunate in the sense of what this means for their family. Not unfortunate for how this plays out in the arena of public scrutiny.

I have thought this through pretty carefully over the last couple of days and I would like to offer my analysis to those of you readers.

The eldest daughter, only 17 years old, is pregnant. What does this say about their home life? I have to admit that this has crossed my mind. But then I'm reminded of my own adolescents and early adulthood. And to be quite frank, how in the world did I get out of high school not pregnant? I know it was God's grace over my life. (Not that those who are pregnant teens are not within God's grace, it just wasn't apart of his plan for my life.) I did not end up pregnant, but I made some bad decisions. Should my parents have shouldered the blame for the consequences of those choices? I think not. Teenagers have the tendency to make adult decisions WAY before they should. Who is responsible for those decisions? Not the parents. My parents were not responsible for the promiscuous behavior of their eldest child, as Sarah and Todd Palin are not the bearers of Bristol's decision. As parents we only have so long to impress upon our children the values and morals that will keep them from making decisions which will forfeit a piece of their future. In the current American culture, that time is shrinking so that our kids now need to know everything by what, 8 -10 years old? They can't even fathom long-term consequences at that age.

So, with that defense out of the way, I am still pro-Palin. I think she has sufficient experience to be Vice-President. I think that whatever her and her husband have decided about the rearing of their kids is their decision and need not be questioned by the likes of me, or anyone else who is not them or their Lord.

I ache for Bristol. I have recently started working with a teenage moms program through my church, and to see that kinds of trials these girls are going through is humbling. Like my girls, Bristol's life will be tough without public scrutiny. With a 24 hour news cycle, I can't imagine. It may seem hoaky, but I lift them up in prayer. They need it.

I'll get into the experience in a later post.

14 comments:

April said...

I agree with you. What does her daughter's situation have to do with her abilities as a politician? It's ridiculous. My heart goes out to this girl. I can't imagine the difficulties and the scrutiny she will face in the future. She's got a tough road ahead, she's lucky to have such supportive parents.

chandy said...

I've been thinking about this all day and I just keep going back and forth. This will probably shock you because, obviously, I am very pro working moms. Some of us aren't called to be stay-at-homers, and I think that's okay. But as a working mom I still need to balance my career with the needs of my family. My husband and I have both made decisions that have put us on a slower career track in order to be there for our kids. And that's not always an easy thing to do, it can be quite humbling! So, that being said, if I was Palin, I'm not sure I'd have made the same decision that she did. She might not be wrong for making that decision, but I have to wonder if her family needs her a bit more right now than her country does. And for what it's worth, I'd feel the same if it were a Mr. Palin instead of a Ms.

But on the other hand, she won't be worrying about grocery shopping, laundry, house cleaning, daycare, or any of the other concerns that normal working moms face daily, so she'll probably be able to handle it just find.

See, I told you I can't make up my mind.

Jen said...

I'm in agreement with you, that her daughter's decision shouldn't reflect poorly on her. We certainly can't control people and freedom of choice is very important. However, I find it extremely ironic that her daughter is pregnant given Palin's "abstinence-only" mantra. She is quoted as saying "The sex-ed programs will not find my support." Perhaps if she looked at studies, that consistently show abstinence-only ed to be ineffective at preventing/reducing teen pregnancies, maybe her daughter would have used some sort of protection. Consequently, I have to wonder if her idealism didn't get in the way of her making a wise decision in this regard. I think it's fair to say that we need to discuss both of these options when educating our children, otherwise we aren't really acknowledging that they have the capacity to make decisions different than our own.

Jessie said...

Jen, I don't think you can accurately say that Bristol was not using a method of birth-control. Birth-control fails. And there is plenty of evidence to support that.

Are you suggesting that if Governor Palin had implemented safe-sex education, rather than abstinence education, her eldest daughter might not be pregnant?

Jen said...

You're right, her daughter could have been using some form of birth control. And, I am well aware that the only 100% way to avoid pregnancy is abstinence. Still, even if she was using birth control, I find it ironic given her mother's abstinence-only policy. And, I have to wonder, if she did receive information from her mother about birth control options, why Palin wouldn't also extend that same information to kids in the school system. So, yes, I am suggesting, without knowing of course what her personal conversations with her daugther were like, that maybe if she had a more comprehensive approach, her daughter might not be pregnant.

Also, here are some links to the studies I mentioned:

http://www.apa.org/releases/sexeducation.html

www.siecus.org/policy/research_says.pdf

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/67979.php

http://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/uganda0305/8.htm

Kristi said...

Jess,
Thanks for posting. I've found the whole week to be quite interesting. I enjoyed watching Palin speak last night--I could 1) understand what she was saying (as in it wasn't all canned rhetoric) and 2) I felt like she was sincere and actually lived real life. I don't know what the right answer is--I just think the whole thing is exciting! And I hope it encourages folks to get out and vote!

Jessie said...

Thanks for posting, Kristi. Oh, to have the right answers. What I would give to have God's all-seeing view so as to make correct choices all the time.

For instance, I do not know the solution to the sex-education conundrum. And I have found myself very frustrated that I can't fit it into a pre-made box in my mind. So, I'll just have to stew over it some more.

One thing I've learned through a book I'm reading is why doubt and arguments are not bad. Without them how do we know what truth is?

Becky said...

Jess...

Funny, I was just reading Christ at the Crossroads by Chuck Swindoll (I think) and the chapter on doubt says exactly what you are saying...that doubting is healthy and intelligent. That doubt and faith aren't mutually exclusive. ;)

This topic has been so interesting to me...because as a teenager I didn't do the things I did to rebel against my mom and what she had taught me, I was searching for something...that now as an adult I can see was just a part of growing up.

I think the comments on blogs all over the place about the abstinence only education being the reason that Bristol is pregnant is ridiculous.

Did it ever occur to any of the readers out there that Palin's daughter might have tried to get pregnant?

Do you know how many teenage girls I know say they want a baby...right now? Despite it being absolutely DUMB for them to say it, it is even dumber for them to follow through on it...but I KNOW that many young girls get pregnant because they WANT to.

Seriously...they want to know what it feels like to be pregnant, to get that kind of attention, to "share" a connection that is really deep with a boyfriend they are trying to hold onto?

This kind of pregnancy is not always "failed" birth control...or abstinence education not working...it is the child choosing to behave in a way that doesn't have the benefit of life experience (maybe a little rebellion)...and what more socially acceptable way than to have sex and get pregnant.

Do you realize how much media glorifies pregnancy and birth and how every celebrity that gets knocked up suddenly becomes even more newsworthy?

This is a cultural issue as much as it is a family issue...

and doggone it...I am sick and tired of people blaming "abstinence ed" when pregnancies happen...because I can guarantee that if we throw condoms and other birth control out there left and right, this will still be a cultural problem affecting many households, Republican and Democratic alike.

(It's like saying that people are addicted to illegal drugs because they were taught that drugs were wrong...and if we just make the paraphanelia and the drugs available to them and show them how to shoot up responsibly, we would have less addicts and drug problems as a country.)

Absurd.

Just my opinion, I realize, but thanks for hosting the chat! :)

The Maid

Jen said...

I don't think the majority of people would argue that "throwing condoms around left and right" would prevent every pregnancy or that there would no longer be social reprecussions. I'm sure some do argue that, but I don't believe it's the majority. I think the thoughtful person will acknowledge that both abstinence and sex-ed needs to be taught. Given that we live in a plurastic society, and abstinence-ed is largely a Christian teaching, I think it's foolish to limit education to this. Furthermore, I think it is right to critique both programs in light of their stated goals. If they are not achieving what they set out to do, then we need to reevaluate whether it's worth the time and money being spent.

It certainly is true that Bristol could have wanted to get pregnant. Anything is possible, and unfortunately, young adults make foolish decisions like this all of the time. But what does it matter if she did? It doesn't somehow justify the abstinence-only education. The critque is still valid. I agree with you though that we should be evaluating more than just pregnancy rates; it's important to look at society's role, as well as parents, in the decisions people are making.

chandy said...

I have to agree with Jen. As long as sex ed is fact based, age appropriate, and objective, I just can't get worked up about it. My husband and I are the ones responsible for imparting abstinence-only beliefs on our children. If anything, I see sex ed offering lots of opportunities for discussion as a family to say "this is what some people in the world do, but this is what our family believes and why we believe it."

Becky said...

Jen..

To each his own opinion, right?

I think that education is essential...sex ed included...but where I disagree is that I feel sex ed should be responsibly and age appropriately taught in the home or by responsible health care professionals who could stick to the facts.

I was part of a "sex ed" class in jr. high and we had to have parents permission to attend...I would be appalled to have my 7th/8th grade daughter sitting through the "open" discussion that ensued there. It was inappropriate, full of street talk, and really graphic descriptions of physical things. Things that I had no understanding or experience with, and wouldn't until I was an adult.

I really feel like it is the job of the parents, church, health care professionals, etc...but NOT the public school systems to educate kids about all of the physical, social, and emotional aspects and repercussions of sexual behavior.

Again, my opinion...
The Maid

Becky said...

Oh, and let me clarify one thing...when I said that sometimes young girls WANT to get pregnant...it was a general statement...maybe that is what happened to Bristol, but I was in no way asserting that it was fact or anything.

Just didn't want it to sound like internet rumor or anything! :)

Jen said...

Becky...

True, the ideal situation is to educate our own children about the purpose of sex or to engage a responsible health care official, as you suggest. Having never taken a sex-ed class in young adulthood, I have nothing to either criticize or affirm with the program from an experience standpoint. However, I am sure that some classes are done very poorly and some are done very well in the public school system. It sounds like yours was the former.

I do find a flaw in your argument though. You assume that everyone has a parent or health care professional, or a church group, to educate them. Perhaps you were fortunate enough to grow up in a home where your parents had the sex talk with you, or to regularly visit a physician that your parents trusted. Or, maybe you were part of a church youth group where this sort of thing was discussed. If so, great. I, however, was not fortunate to have any of these things. And so, like many, many, kids, who are like me, was left to fend for myself.

So while I agree that that is the ideal situation, I find it overly simplistic, because it doesn't really acknowledge the reality for a lot of people.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly wouldn't want my child to participate in the same class as you from the way you describe it. And, I would hope that whoever funds the curriculum for these classes would be cognizant of who is teaching it and how it is being done. Like abstinence-only ed, I believe it needs to be evaluated in light of it's objectives.

However, I do believe that it IS necessary to teach comprehensive sex education in the public school system, for the very reason that countless kids may not learn about safe sex otherwise. I acknowledge that this isn't the best evironment to discuss the emotional and social aspects, however, I think it is far more important to educate kids on a basic level, particularly the group I'm referring to, than deny them the information simply because it isn't consistent with the ideal.

I suppose if you, or someone else, could come up with a way to educate those who do not have the preferable social network in place, and to do it outside of the school system, then I would be in agreement with you.

Becky said...

Jen...

Of course I knew that would be the opposing argument to what I had to say.

I have no opposition to public schools having information to hand out to kids about where they can get answers. Most schools offer hotlines for suicide, parental abuse, and other things that are pressing problems among our kids.

I think if it is made known to kids where they can get the answers they seek...and those answers are provided through private organizations or health care personnel...I have no problem with schools having resources to hand out to kids.

I still refute that sex ed...even when done in the best of taste...does not belong in our schools.

Trust me, I, in some ways did fend for myself...even though my mom was very open, I wouldn't dare talk to her about some of the embarrassing things that this topic brings with it.

It is a delicate balance to offer information, seek parental consent, and to mandate sex education...and to offer abstinence only not just as a choice but the best choice for kids.

Many kids are just not ready to hear the things that were brought up in that jr high sex ed class...it was inappropriate. Unfortunately, I believe that kind of forum, made it "every day" talk with the kids and allowed them to talk, think, and ultimately act with behavior that should be reserved for consenting adults.

I feel that public schools have crossed some very personal boundaries with kids...sex, health screenings (weighing kids, checking their teeth, eyes, hearing etc...not the place of the public school!), and the like.

I realize that you see my opinion as idealism...I just don't think that because other families are failing their kids in a particular area (sex ed, health and dental care, etc) doesn't mean that school policy should be adapted to mandate unwanted policy on my kids, to make up for their shortcomings.

Thanks for the healthy debate...
Have a good week.

The Maid