Effects of Teenage Motherhood

  • Merle G. Church
Part of the Women in Context: Development and Stresses book series (WICO)


We humans are, perhaps, evolution’s experiment with the specialization of the mind. We can form symbols and therefore can think abstractly speak about “meaning,” and produce “art. An extremely early demonstration of this capacity is found in early man’s manufacture of things beyond immediate use, that is, symbolic things such as the neolithic figurines of voluptuous female forms. Female fertility seems to have obsessed our early symbolic process. The Venus of Würtemberg is either grossly obese, or pregnant, or both, as are most of these fertility figures. It is a curious contradiction that while women have been prized by society for their fertility, the organ responsible has been seen as the source of danger and weakness. Quite different are the proud attributions of strength, courage, and power given to the male’s procreative equipment. Perhaps awe for the female organ’s capacities was too great and it was enviously driven out to wander. This wandering womb was seen as the cause of woman’s infirmities and as the explanation for her inescapable inadequacies. In early America, she was not educated because it was believed her reproductive organs would shrivel and cease to function! In our more sophisticated days, she gets “the curse” monthly and is so subject to the ravages of hormonal fluctuations as to be considered unfit for public office. Motherhood was a blessing though not as blessed as virginity, which, however, if carried to extremes, could lead to pitiful spinsterhood and barenness. What a bittersweet potion of mixed messages. It is no surprise that as women have been increasingly released from a limited life and a destiny bound by their anatomy (released first by medical advances in anesthesia, antiseptics, prenatal care, and contemporary obstetrics, and then by contraception and safe abortion), they have had second thoughts about childbearing. We hear that a national magazine polling mothers found over 70% stating they would not become mothers if they had it to do over again! Motherhood: a lifetime contract, no pay, no training, no advancement, no insurance, a 24-hour day, and a product of uncertain quality! “Maternal instincts” have to be strong indeed for one to apply for that position. What about “maternal instincts”—are they a contrivance meant to idealize the inevitable, or something fundamental in female psychology?


Counseling Session Teenage Pregnancy Young Mother Teenage Mother Adolescent Mother 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Merle G. Church
    • 1
  1. 1.Manhattan BeachUSA

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