"General Systems Theory, a related modern concept [to holism], says that each variable in any system interacts with the other variables so thoroughly that cause and effect cannot be separated. A simple variable can be both cause and effect. Reality will not be still. And it cannot be taken apart! You cannot understand a cell, a rat, a brain structure, a family, a culture if you isolate it from its context. Relationship is everything." – Marilyn Ferguson
It is said that poverty is systemic. You grow up in housing projects, you learn the projects morals and values and you stay in the housing projects. You are taught welfare is an acceptable way to make a living and often taught the way to get more money is to have more babies.
I find myself wondering if unplanned pregnancy is systemic.
Two of my first mom friends now have pregnant teenage daughters. My grandmother was pregnant out of wedlock with my father in 1940. My older sister and I both became pregnant outside of marriage. My aunt was pregnant and sent away (but escaped and the father married her). Adoptees seemed to be overrepresented to me in the maternity home I lived in. Presumably they were adopted because of their own mothers unplanned pregnancy and then they also become pregnant and place their child for adoption.
What is going on here?
Can it be prevented?
Should it be?
I can tell you first hand that I was responsible for my pregnancy. I lied to my daughters father and told him I was on the pill. Truth is I HAD been on the pill, but for that particular night of sexual activity, um, no. I took a chance. WHY did I take that chance?
Because I loved him and I was afraid if I did not have sex with him he would leave me. (I realize this speaks to a host of teenage and feminist issues but that is not the point of this post). There is more to the story than that but the gist of it is he asked me if I was "safe". I rolled the dice and decided to say "yes".
My personal belief, in my case, is that my pregnancy happened due to poor self esteem and lack of feeling loved by my family. My daughters father showed me love and respect that I had never felt in my seventeen years of life and I was not willing to risk losing it.
But what of all these other girls I know? Is there a larger system or force at work here? What can we do to prevent these unplanned pregnancies? Can we? Why do they seem to repeat themselves in families even in face of the very obvious damage done by earlier familial unplanned pregnancy?
I am parenting two sons. I have had discussions with my eleven year old son about sex, unprotected sex, abortion, adoption, pregnancy. He has lived the loss of his sister in his life. He has seen the damage adoption did to his mother and his family (since my adoption trauma contributed significantly to my marriage and divorce). Is this enough to teach him to as he says "wrap the pickle?"
Recently, after ending a phone call with a reunited adoptee that had called me for support, my son asked who I was talking to. I told him and we launched into adoption again and the damage it does to people. I told him AGAIN that if he ever got a girlfriend pregnant…and then he stopped me.
"I know Mom. We will take care of her. We will do what she wants. We will not allow what happened to you to happen to her".
I smiled. He is getting it.
I then continued "BUT, that does not mean you have permission to go ot and get someone pregnant simply because your mother will help."
He smirked and said "OMG, of course I know that. MOM! I am only ELEVEN!"
Is education and awareness enough? Is there anything I can do, as a mother raising two sons, to prevent future unplanned pregnancies? Or is there a greater force at work here? Can I even control this? Can any of us if it is built into the system?
What is this pattern of generations of unplanned pregnancies in families?
And should we assume it is a bad thing?