He calls me Dad

http://www.npr.org/2014/03/30/296441067/what-a-small-towns-teen-pregnancy-turnaround-can-teach-the-u-s

Interesting read. I have to agree, ignorance and lack of education play a HUGE part in why we have such a high pregnancy rate compared to the rest of the world.

I’m blown away each year as the parents of my students are increasingly younger.  I remember talking to a colleague about it and she told me, that’s their culture.  I’m still wrapping my mind around this, but the longer I’m here, the more I understand.

Two of my seniors had a son in September; before Junior was born, the 17-year old father and I were talking about parenting.  He lives with his “father” (he’s not his biological dad, but a former stepdad who raised him), but this father is rarely home.  My student once revealed to me that he and his older brothers practically live alone, their father spends his time at his girlfriend’s house.  Anyway, in this conversation, my student was freaking out (but trying not to show it) about becoming a father, especially since his girlfriend was in foster care at the time and would have their son hundreds of miles away without him.  I told him I wasn’t the best person to be giving how-to-be-a-good-dad advice and then he looked at me and said, “I’ve always thought of you as a father figure.”  I smiled and said, “Dude, I’m not a dude.”  We laughed for a moment, but then he gave me a look that said, “But seriously, I do.”

When Junior was born, my student congratulated me on becoming a grandmother. I told him that I was waaay too young to be a grandparent, but he didn’t understand. He thought it was cool that when his son was 16, he’d be my age… He told me having a kid so young was good because “Then I’ll still be young enough to play with him and stuff.”  I realized then that if I’d had a child when I was in high school, I’d have a son or daughter his age right now, too.

When I was 16, I worked at a restaurant and had a 36-year old co-worker who became a grandmother. I remember thinking it was weird, but it wasn’t weird for her. It was her culture, just as it’s some of my students’ culture, too.

What a weird and wild and culturally diverse world we live in. Makes me think how much education (and the lack thereof!) influences aspects of culture… But just as in everything else, knowledge = power = powerful change for the better.

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