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View Full Version : Mothers (Especially those of at least teenage children), how would you react?



ErezMA
05-04-2016, 05:16 AM
How would you react if you had a son (aged 17). He was already grounded and while around the house, you found his girlfriend running out of the house crying (which is clearly against the rules of him being grounded) When you demanded an answer from him as to what went on, he told you that his girlfriend was pregnant and he got her upset by suggesting to her to get an abortion because it wasn't a good time in their life to have a child.

I know this is a lot to ask for those who may have faced difficult situations like this in the past. However, I really want to get honest thoughts so I can make an authentic reaction. Feel free to be open-ended and honest.

Also, I want you to imagine this being in real time. What are your reactions? If you see yourself impulsively smacking your son in the face because you're that upset with him doing that, please feel free to write that down.

Thank you all!

EDIT: Just to make everyone aware, I hope this post is acceptable for this forum. I consider being a mom or even a parent as a special expert because you're dealing with so many things that many non-parents aren't tasked with. Please feel free to move this if you think it deserves to be placed elsewhere.

Canotila
05-04-2016, 05:33 AM
My knee jerk reaction would be to kick him out of the house, track down his girlfriend, and let her know that if she ever needs a safe place to stay there is an unused bedroom in my home.

Not that I'd actually do it, but that would be my first inclination. I would be furious with him.

Lauram6123
05-04-2016, 05:36 AM
Disclaimer- I'm the mom of a 15-year-old son with no girl friend yet, so this is all hypothetical in my world.


Any feelings about breaking house rules while grounded would go out the window as soon as I found out that she was pregnant.

My gut reaction would be to want to reach out to the girl ASAP (regardless of our family's relationship with her.) I know she'd be terrified and distraught, and my priority would be helping her. I'd want to make sure she had someone to talk to, appropriate medical attention, etc. Hopefully, these concerns could be addressed with her parents. If that wasn't an option, I would do whatever I could to help her. In a perfect world, both sets of parents could get together and have a reasonable, adult talk about the whole matter and decide what to do.

I'd reflect on my own parenting lapses that led to this situation later. As for my son, I'm not feeling like my reaction would be anger. I'd be more hurt that he and his girlfriend had been living with something this earth-shattering and he didn't feel comfortable enough with his parents to come to us and share it. I'd want to give him the reassurance that from this point on we would handle it as a family.

ErezMA
05-04-2016, 05:42 AM
Thanks for the response. I also forgot to ask one more question.

What would upset you more, the Impregnating or the suggestion for an abortion. From my Facebook friends, the answers I got surprised me.

Lauram6123
05-04-2016, 05:51 AM
Thanks for the response. I also forgot to ask one more question.

What would upset you more, the Impregnating or the suggestion for an abortion. From my Facebook friends, the answers I got surprised me.

For me, neither. The most upsetting thing would be his not coming to his parents for guidance. I think any 17-year-old (male's) first reaction would be that an abortion would = clean slate. He wouldn't be mature enough to understand that it's not that simple.

C.bronco
05-04-2016, 06:05 AM
I'd talk to my son about how that is not an option, and then contact the girl's parents.

Canotila
05-04-2016, 06:08 AM
What would be most distressing to me is his girlfriend's reaction to the situation. His lack of support and empathy for her. To me, suggesting an abortion to someone who clearly is distressed by the idea, especially when you are partly responsible for the pregnancy, is extremely callous. As a mom I'd be pretty dang horrified to have raised a young man who would treat someone that way.

ErezMA
05-04-2016, 06:43 AM
Thanks everyone for your views. Before I've asked this tonight, I've realized I've only written this part of the story with trying to think a way a mother would. That was a mistake. I also realize that my answers differed - greatly in some areas and only minorly in others. Obviously, mothers differ from one another because people differ from one another, but I feel I'm getting a good feel, through all of your answers, how a mother would.

I agree with you, Lauram6123, that the situation is so serious that breaking the conditions of being grounded is basically breadcrumbs.

I'm glad you guys picked up the feel on how the abortion conversation went. It wasn't a, "From my calculations, I think this may be a good move. However, I don't want to be disrespectful to you." It was a, "What? I can't have kids! You have to do this so you don't screw up both of our lives!" And I agree, if a girl is running down the stairs and out the door, that's not a good sign. It's a sign that someone isn't being thoughtful in their responses.

The way I currently have this sequence of events is that the son began telling what happened, pretty much an accurate summary and as soon as he mentioned that he suggested abortion to his girlfriend, she smacked him across his face, yelled [paraphrasing], "You do NOT say that to her. When you find out that she is pregnant, you have to take responsibility." She then gave him money to get flowers and demanded that he go to her, apologize as much as he could and hope that she'll take him back.

Is there anything that looks so out of place? With all of your responses, I'll adjust this anyway, but I didn't know if you saw this and thought, "This definitely isn't right."

slhuang
05-04-2016, 07:14 AM
I'm not a mother, but I know with 100% certainty that my own mother would never smack one of her children that way, no matter what they did, ever.

Parents vary, as you say, but if the mother in your ms does not regularly engage in fairly severe corporal punishment, I would find such an act wildly out of character. It's also worth noting that slaps to the face are not harmless and can actually be extremely dangerous -- for instance, if you catch someone's ear you can cause them to lose their hearing in that ear (I actually know two real-life cases in which this has happened).

It also reads strangely to me that the mother's priority would be the girlfriend "taking him back" rather than the mother's primary concern being addressing the pregnancy and (assuming she's a good mother) making everyone feel safe and supported before anything else. Again, not a mother, but I do know some pretty darn well. ;) Of course, a lot depends on your characterization of the mother. There are some really horrible parents out there, so beyond good parents varying wildly (which they do), you may be wanting to characterize her as extremely flawed or abusive -- which would of course affect the reading of the scene.

Myrealana
05-04-2016, 07:28 AM
<-- Mother to a 21-year-old son with poor impulse control. (The son, not the mom...Most of the time.)

No, I wouldn't smack him. It's not even an option.

I would send him to his room with no Internet and, if possible, track down the girlfriend. I'd make sure she's alright and ask her to wait to have a reasonable discussion when I've talked to my son.

I well know, after 21 years of parenting, that hasty judgements usually lead to poor outcomes. My policy is to separate all parties involved until everyone is ready to have a calm discussion.

In a situation that serious, I would probably want to talk to the girlfriend apart from my son before they speak to each other again, and see what options she was considering before letting them continue their discussion. Then, I would mediate to make sure that he listened and offered support rather than pressure when helping her make her choice. I would make it clear that my expectation of him is that he needs to accept her choice, and support her, whatever that choice is.

I would NOT send him after her with flowers. If they want to make up and stay together, then they will do so. Dealing with his poor judgement in reacting that way is first, then coming up with a solid plan of action. After that, they can think about kissing and making up.

cornflake
05-04-2016, 07:32 AM
Thanks everyone for your views. Before I've asked this tonight, I've realized I've only written this part of the story with trying to think a way a mother would. That was a mistake. I also realize that my answers differed - greatly in some areas and only minorly in others. Obviously, mothers differ from one another because people differ from one another, but I feel I'm getting a good feel, through all of your answers, how a mother would.

I agree with you, Lauram6123, that the situation is so serious that breaking the conditions of being grounded is basically breadcrumbs.

I'm glad you guys picked up the feel on how the abortion conversation went. It wasn't a, "From my calculations, I think this may be a good move. However, I don't want to be disrespectful to you." It was a, "What? I can't have kids! You have to do this so you don't screw up both of our lives!" And I agree, if a girl is running down the stairs and out the door, that's not a good sign. It's a sign that someone isn't being thoughtful in their responses.

The way I currently have this sequence of events is that the son began telling what happened, pretty much an accurate summary and as soon as he mentioned that he suggested abortion to his girlfriend, she smacked him across his face, yelled [paraphrasing], "You do NOT say that to her. When you find out that she is pregnant, you have to take responsibility." She then gave him money to get flowers and demanded that he go to her, apologize as much as he could and hope that she'll take him back.

Sorry, but my mother would tell you that suggesting an abortion IS taking responsibility (well, presuming he was paying for half). She'd not suggest apologizing for that, but she would suggest reasoning with the gf. After smacking the shit out of the kid too stupid to use condoms.

Is there anything that looks so out of place? With all of your responses, I'll adjust this anyway, but I didn't know if you saw this and thought, "This definitely isn't right."

This is very family-dependent, but in my family and many I know, there'd be a *lot* less support for considering having a kid at 17 and a lot more 'you dumbass.'

Silva
05-04-2016, 07:56 AM
(Absolutely not what I would do ever, but) With every single one of my peers that got pregnant outside of marriage, a shotgun wedding happened. That was the parental reaction: make it "right" by getting married.



I wonder if the question you need to ask is not "what would a mother do" but "what kind of mother is the character?" What's her worldview? Does she have a religious or moral stance against abortion? What views of womanhood has she internalized that she may try to force upon the girlfriend? What views of manhood would she try to force upon her son in this instance? What does she think it means to be a good parent? Is she the authoritarian type? Or more of a laissez-faire type of parent? Domineering? Respectful? Abusive? Absent? Stressed out? Anger problems? Passive?

shadowwalker
05-04-2016, 08:00 AM
My son's in his thirties, so I kinda remember his teenage years ;) First, no slap in the face. Second, any thoughts on the grounding are gone. And no - no running after her with flowers and trying to get back together. (I got pregnant while not married and believe you me, flowers would have been a massive slap in the face.) Last, I'd ask him to go to his room while I digest the information. After I've calmed down, it's time to talk calmly about his responsibilities and finding out exactly what the situation with the girl is. And here I'm going to differ a bit - he's my son, after all, and unless he raped her, the girl's got some share of the responsibility for this as well. So I'd be looking at it from the POV that yes, he has to face his, but so does she. And let's not forget the other element to be dealt with - her parents.

I wouldn't rule out an abortion, but that's between her and her parents. Whatever the decision, I'd make damn sure my son accepted it and dealt with whatever costs came with it - whether it was paying for the abortion or child support. The only thing I'd put a kibosh on would be marriage - and yeah, around here, even at 17, it wouldn't be unusual for that to be considered the solution.

Now, I've never had to deal with this situation, thank God, but my son and I did have discussions about this very scenario. In your story, I'd feel a lot better toward the mother if she also accepted her responsibility in this. And her own guilt could add an extra dimension to the story.

Roxxsmom
05-04-2016, 08:08 AM
No smack. I hope that if I'd been a parent, I wouldn't be the hitting kind. I wouldn't send him after her with flowers either. I'd want him to talk to her, of course, whether or not they want to stay together, but flowers seem trivial.

I wouldn't be angry at him for suggesting abortion: it's a legitimate choice that couples discuss in these situations, and it's what I likely would have chosen if I'd been pregnant at 17 (seriously, good people do choose not to give birth, it's just become socially unacceptable to admit it in the past 30 years), but I'd make sure I let him know that she has to make the choice that feels right for her (and it is the girl's choice in the end), and he has to step up to the plate and no matter what happened with their relationship long term, whether they want to try and make a go of it as a couple or not. I'd ask him how he feels about being a father and about whether he'd want custody of the baby if the girl wanted to give it up for adoption.

I'd feel pretty odd about a grandchild that we had no contact with, so I'd hope he'd want to be a father to the child, but if he and the girl both felt that adoption was the best choice, I'd respect that. I wouldn't force him to marry her if he doesn't want to, but we'd have to assume appropriate responsibility.

That also would mean that we, his parents and guardians), must offer to help support the baby (since he presumably won't be able to make much money until he's finished his education, and even then, gah, we live in awful times) and be there for it if she chooses to keep it (not give it up for adoption). This might be a terrible thing for him and his girlfriend to be burdened with at this time in their lives, and it means that a lot of dreams and opportunities (like going off to college and having the normal life people of their age had been looking forward to) will be gone. But it's the consequence of their decision to have (presumably) unprotected sex.

That's what I'd be crossest with him about--the decision to have unprotected, or under-protected sex.

This talk shouldn't be a surprise to him, since I would have made my feelings on the matter of sexual risks and responsibility very clear from the get go, just as my own parents had with me. Part of "the talk" for a boy would be a reminder that, whether or not he's pro choice or feels ready for parenthood, if his sex partner gets pregnant, she gets to choose whether or not to have the child.

ErezMA
05-04-2016, 08:15 AM
Cornflakes, I'd like to say that I've already received a message about this and I'm not going to deny that there is a political component to this but I think there's more of a mothering component to it. While it's not my intention to turn it into a political discussion, I'd like to think a large part of the punitive measure (at least from the character's mother in the story) is how they went about doing it. My character's mother isn't necessarily against abortion as much as she was against how my character nonchalantly, pretty much coerced his girlfriend to get one. I'm sure she would have had much more receptive if there was a clearer line of communication and they told her, "We thought about this and after discussing this, we've come to the conclusion that an abortion is the better option," she'd be happier about it.

Also, the mom character is loosely based off my mom and the slapping part is how I would imagine her reacting to me if I told her what that character told his mother. Luckily, I've never had a girlfriend pregnant scare when I was seventeen. The intention of the slap was to hurt and show him that she wasn't joking around. I'll keep your concerns in comment. I'm imagining my mother character and described her to be 4'11" and thin, but isn't taken aback by a six and a half foot monster of a man (also described in the novel). She has a huge heart. She loves a lot, but she also can be emotional in raising her child.

Because of her size, she's probably more likely to get away with slapping her child but to be honest, that slap across the face was probably the worst she's ever done because she sees the actions of her son to be the worst he's ever done. I may not completely take off the physical aspect, but I may take off the entire slap.

Also Cornflake, there is a lot of criticism. She talks about him screwing up his life and then a minute later talking about how they'll find a way to fix this. If it helps, she's a registered nurse. She's not the type to leave a baby in the hands of kicked out adolescents.

ErezMA
05-04-2016, 08:40 AM
I wonder if the question you need to ask is not "what would a mother do" but "what kind of mother is the character?" What's her worldview? Does she have a religious or moral stance against abortion? What views of womanhood has she internalized that she may try to force upon the girlfriend? What views of manhood would she try to force upon her son in this instance? What does she think it means to be a good parent? Is she the authoritarian type? Or more of a laissez-faire type of parent? Domineering? Respectful? Abusive? Absent? Stressed out? Anger problems? Passive?
I understand. My largest concern was, "Is this mother believable?" I understand that every woman is different, but I want the reader to think, "Even if I don't agree with what she's doing, I can at least believe this character is a mother." That's why I wanted the opinion of mothers, and even the opinion of women - since all mothers are women.


My son's in his thirties, so I kinda remember his teenage years ;) First, no slap in the face. Second, any thoughts on the grounding are gone. And no - no running after her with flowers and trying to get back together. (I got pregnant while not married and believe you me, flowers would have been a massive slap in the face.)
I'm learning a lot. I didn't know this would be offensive. I thought that flowers was the - perhaps even cliched- 'this is what you do when you're a guy and you're in trouble.'


Last, I'd ask him to go to his room while I digest the information. After I've calmed down, it's time to talk calmly about his responsibilities and finding out exactly what the situation with the girl is. And here I'm going to differ a bit - he's my son, after all, and unless he raped her, the girl's got some share of the responsibility for this as well. So I'd be looking at it from the POV that yes, he has to face his, but so does she. And let's not forget the other element to be dealt with - her parents.
I don't think that's unfair. Both the guy and girl entered into the sex together and consensually. I'd say the parents of the [to-be] father is just as responsible as the parents of the [to-be] mother.


The only thing I'd put a kibosh on would be marriage - and yeah, around here, even at 17, it wouldn't be unusual for that to be considered the solution.
The marriage part is a whole 'nother can of worms. I'm not sure where the storyline is going, in that regard, but I'm sure my mom could mention that. I'll have to think if it would fit her character to demand a shotgun wedding.


And her own guilt could add an extra dimension to the story.
What would the guilt be? "I should have taught him better?" Sincerely, while I'm sure mothers could ask themselves that, how much guilt do mothers deserve to have in these situations?


No smack. I hope that if I'd been a parent, I wouldn't be the hitting kind. I wouldn't send him after her with flowers either. I'd want him to talk to her, of course, whether or not they want to stay together, but flowers seem trivial.
Two in a row for the no flowers. I'm so glad I haven't had this situation happen to me.


I wouldn't be angry at him for suggesting abortion: it's a legitimate choice that couples discuss in these situations, and it's what I likely would have chosen if I'd been pregnant at 17
I think part of it is how he suggested it. I also have a feeling you were a very mature 17-year old.


I'd feel pretty odd about a grandchild that we had no contact with, so I'd hope he'd want to be a father to the child, but if he and the girl both felt that adoption was the best choice, I'd respect that. I wouldn't force him to marry her if he doesn't want to, but we'd have to assume appropriate responsibility.
The son's point of view is that he is about to graduate high school and go to college. The son doesn't have a job and has no means of income. He thinks his girlfriend could throw all his troubles away if she just aborted. In other words, "Why pay for a baby if we can just get rid of the baby?"(Note: While abortion may not be the worst idea, his nonchalant and dismissive way appears irresponsible)


That's what I'd be crossest with him about--the decision to have unprotected, or under-protected sex.
As a substitute teacher, this is a real issue. Teen pregnancy is a big issue and it's going to be a huge issue for some of these girls to be in school if the baby's born. In this case, however, the girlfriend would be about six or seven months by graduation.

EDIT: How much school time would pregnant teens in their second and third trimester be expected to miss for doctor appointments, etc.?

Putputt
05-04-2016, 08:45 AM
I would react very differently to the mother in your story, but I don't find her reaction implausible if she's the type to hit her kid. But there was one part that made me snort and roll my eyes: giving him money to buy flowers for the girl so she'd take him back. Her priorities seem to be all over the place there, so that's a bit jarring and would take me out of the scene.

As to how I would react...First, I would tell my son I'm supremely disappointed with him because by the time he's 17, we'd have had sex ed talks with him about oh, 62 million times. So obviously the lil fucker didn't listen. Next, I would tell Mr. Putt to come in. The 3 of us would sit down and discuss. Mr. Putt and I are very firmly pro-choice, and in fact our preference would be for an abortion, but it's not just our choice, and we'd explain to our son that it's not our place to pressure anyone into making a decision. After we've had our discussion, we'd call the girl's parents and arrange for a time for all 6 of us to sit down and discuss.

During the meeting, I would tell them of our opinions. At 17, we think abortion is the best choice, but if she feels very strongly about having the baby, we will help as best as we can...PROVIDED her parents are also on board. We would not want her or our son to drop out of school. They are finishing high school and going to college. We as parents must help look after the baby so our kids can finish their education. After all, we must have done something wrong for them to be so fucking stupid because HI, CONDOMS, so it's not all on them. If the girl agrees to abort, I would ask her if she wants my son (or me, or her parents, or whoever) to go with her to the clinic. I would prefer if my son went along with her, but obviously that's HER choice. If she wants him, then he's going, no matter what, and he's taking care of her afterwards. I'd also ask if she needs counseling to help get through this painful time. I'd chip in for counseling if it's not available for free.

Basically, I reject the notion that "taking responsibility" = having the baby. To me, taking responsibility means discussing the best option available for everybody and seeing it through.

Roxxsmom
05-04-2016, 08:47 AM
I think your mother is believable if A. She's a hitter, and B. She really likes the girlfriend, and C. Is the kind of mom who is delighted by (or at least not at all put out by) the idea of her 17-year-old son getting married and being a dad.

This is about 180 degrees away from my upbringing or how I'd be if I were a mom.

Neither approach is unrealistic. It's all in how you establish this mom as a character prior to (and after) the relevant scene.


EDIT: How much school time would pregnant teens in their second and third trimester be expected to miss for doctor appointments, etc.?

I don't know how often prenatal appointments need to take place (I'm sure someone who has had a baby could help there), but since high school is usually out by 2:30 or so (at least mine was, and the ones around here seem to be), it's plausible that most of her appointments could be scheduled in the late afternoon, maybe even early evening. Many pregnant women have jobs, after all, so I'm guessing some OB/GYNs have flexible hours.

It might be rough for her to attend classes regularly if she has "morning sickness" for the first trimester, though. Depends on how bad it is and how easy it is for her to control with diet and avoidance of triggers. Female friends and relatives have been all over the board with that issue. A couple had it so bad they were in and out of the hospital for hyperemesis gravidarium for most of the pregnancy, but their cases were unusual.

To be honest, I don't really blame the boy for being in denial and wanting to continue his normal life. Yes, it's un-empathetic and immature, but he's 17, and pregnancy and parenthood are pretty serious abstractions for him at this time in his life (though they'll presumably become less so in this story), and in fact, it's perfectly reasonable for high school seniors to be looking forward to college and the freedom and self-discovery it entails (if they're fortunate enough to come from a socioeconomic background that they can afford these things without a lot of stress).

I knew two girls who got pregnant at 17. One had an abortion (and didn't tell her parents until years later--they wouldn't have punished her, but they would have been put out with her for being careless, and she wanted to take care of the problem herself). She went to college and eventually married and had two kids much later in life and is now divorced and a single mom.

The other had the baby and married (and quickly divorced) the dad. Her mom said she'd never forgive her if she had an abortion, but I don't think she (the girl) wanted to anyway. Interestingly enough, she never had another child in spite of being married three more times (the last one has stuck, and she's very happy with him for many years) and quite religious. Her daughter (now a grown up) has had a stormy relationship with her biological father off and on over the years. She never realized her original dream of 4-year college and vet school, though, and instead became a veterinary technician.

Actually, I'm sure I knew many other girls who got pregnant in high school too (there was one who disappeared and rumor was she'd gotten pregnant and dropped out), but even back then, people didn't share that they'd had abortions except to their closest friends.

Helix
05-04-2016, 08:49 AM
What would the guilt be? "I should have taught him better?" Sincerely, while I'm sure mothers could ask themselves that, how much guilt do mothers deserve to have in these situations?

You're writing a story, not a sociological treatise. And if you start mansplainin' in your story, it's going to kill the tale stone dead.

Roxxsmom
05-04-2016, 09:15 AM
I'm learning a lot. I didn't know this would be offensive. I thought that flowers was the - perhaps even cliched- 'this is what you do when you're a guy and you're in trouble.'

Which is why it's rubbing many women the wrong way. It's the kind of sit-com-stereotype, knee-jerk thing a guy in a "dude" movie might do if, say, he forgets his girlfriend's birthday, or if says something stupid like, "Those pants make you look thin!", rather than a guy who is in the middle of a mutual crisis of the most life-altering type imaginable.

cornflake
05-04-2016, 09:36 AM
Cornflakes, I'd like to say that I've already received a message about this and I'm not going to deny that there is a political component to this but I think there's more of a mothering component to it. While it's not my intention to turn it into a political discussion, I'd like to think a large part of the punitive measure (at least from the character's mother in the story) is how they went about doing it. My character's mother isn't necessarily against abortion as much as she was against how my character nonchalantly, pretty much coerced his girlfriend to get one. I'm sure she would have had much more receptive if there was a clearer line of communication and they told her, "We thought about this and after discussing this, we've come to the conclusion that an abortion is the better option," she'd be happier about it.

Also, the mom character is loosely based off my mom and the slapping part is how I would imagine her reacting to me if I told her what that character told his mother. Luckily, I've never had a girlfriend pregnant scare when I was seventeen. The intention of the slap was to hurt and show him that she wasn't joking around. I'll keep your concerns in comment. I'm imagining my mother character and described her to be 4'11" and thin, but isn't taken aback by a six and a half foot monster of a man (also described in the novel). She has a huge heart. She loves a lot, but she also can be emotional in raising her child.

Because of her size, she's probably more likely to get away with slapping her child but to be honest, that slap across the face was probably the worst she's ever done because she sees the actions of her son to be the worst he's ever done. I may not completely take off the physical aspect, but I may take off the entire slap.

Also Cornflake, there is a lot of criticism. She talks about him screwing up his life and then a minute later talking about how they'll find a way to fix this. If it helps, she's a registered nurse. She's not the type to leave a baby in the hands of kicked out adolescents.

I didn't mean it in a political way, but in a 'hey, this is not how every mother, or even theoretically most mothers' behave.

Your character is your character. If she's very against the idea of abortion in any circumstance, then she is. If she's the type to want her 17-year-old to get married to "take responsibility," then she is.

You asked for people's opinions. My mother would have been livid at the stupidity - see Putputt, above - and been very strongly in favour of not bringing a baby home. There would also be no question of marrying at 17; that'd be as ludicrous an idea as one could come up with, if you asked her. Again, there are certainly people who feel the polar opposite, and your character can do that, as long as it's who she is.

Note though, your character didn't coerce his gf to do anything. He said he wanted her to get an abortion. She ran off. That's kind of all that happened.

Fruitbat
05-04-2016, 10:46 AM
I don't think a dope slap upside a seventeen-year-old boy's head is any giant deal but it doesn't really help anything, either.

As the mother of grown sons I don't think they should not have any say at all when after all it will hugely affect their lives too, not just the girl's. Personally, I don't believe that high school kids need to have or raise babies as they are simply not equipped. The girl's input should count more but he certainly has the right to make his wishes known as well.

Stating that he does not want to be a father and wants her to get an abortion is not force. Just because she is upset and cries if this news is not what she hoped to hear is also not force. Of course actually trying to "coerce" her one way or the other is not right, but I don't think what you've described actually is that. An untimely, unplanned pregnancy is usually upsetting to everyone involved regardless of how it is ultimately handled.

I'd expect such news will make the parents and the children all feel a little bonkers and therefore more susceptible to less than stellar first reactions all around.

shadowwalker
05-04-2016, 10:46 AM
What would the guilt be? "I should have taught him better?" Sincerely, while I'm sure mothers could ask themselves that, how much guilt do mothers deserve to have in these situations?

It depends on the set-up of the story. Was she the kind of parent who figured the kid got sex ed in school so he should know the score, or was she the kind that figured school was only for the basics? How sure of her parenting skills was she? Maybe she did have talks with him but now she's wondering if it was enough. Is she going to worry about condemnation from her peers (and will that make her feel guilty or angry?)? Does she know the girl well, or her parents? Is she going to worry about the girl's parents and their reactions/attitudes?

There are a lot of variables within the character that will determine what her ongoing reactions will be and how she's portrayed. How do you want readers to react to her? Of course, that will also depend on whether the focus of the story is on the mother or the son (I'm assuming it's on the mother, but if not, then the son's perception of the mother will be another major influence on her characterization).

As to how much guilt mothers "deserve" - it depends on what kind of parenting they did. Personally, I think if a parent takes their role seriously, then no matter how badly they bungle things, at least they tried - but they would probably feel guilt when none was deserved. Those who basically let their kids raise themselves - they most likely would feel no guilt no matter what.

Fruitbat
05-04-2016, 10:54 AM
I don't think getting pregnant is really misbehavior. Most seventeen-year-olds probably have had sex. Plenty of older people also have unplanned pregnancies. Things can happen, even when you do use birth control.

Aerial
05-04-2016, 10:05 PM
I don't think getting pregnant is really misbehavior. Most seventeen-year-olds probably have had sex. Plenty of older people also have unplanned pregnancies. Things can happen, even when you do use birth control.

Obviously, your character's reaction is going to hinge greatly on what type of person she is and be anywhere on the spectrum in terms of how beneficial or destructive it is.

At 17, though, these kids are pretty much adults and it sounds like the situation is such that they'll be 18 and have graduated before the baby is born, if that happens. To me, the whole grounding/sending the son to his room seems thoroughly out of place.

I have two adult children and two teenagers, and by age 17 I tried to always talk to them like independent adults who had to live with the consequences of their choices. It wouldn't keep me from expressing my disapproval (of the unprotected sex and how he treated the girlfriend) in no uncertain terms, but the follow up would be, "I'm here for you both and I'll help in any way I can. What do you want to do?"

I can't imagine trying to force the son to do anything, but only counsel him toward good decisions and actions and then support (or at least respect) his decisions whether they're good or bad. And if I felt that I, as another independent adult, needed to take my own actions to separately support the girlfriend, I would do that, and keep the son in the loop as to what I was doing.

lianna williamson
05-04-2016, 10:27 PM
Pro-choice, sex-positive mother of a son here.

I wouldn't hit. And I would not be furious with him for suggesting an abortion-- giving your opinion is not the same thing is coercing, and in my opinion abortion is a valid option to consider. I'm not seeing why he's responsible for her negative reaction to his honest opinion, I would point out however that since this is not happening in his body, he doesn't get to make the final choice. He may not WANT to be a father at 17, but part of growing up is accepting that life doesn't always turn out the way you planned. I'd assure him that no matter what, we'd emotionally and financially support him + her + the baby if applicable.

Re:the relationship with the gf: while I would encourage him to apologize for upsetting her during what must be a very scary time, and tell him to try and approach the conversation again with more sensitivity, I absolutely would not suggest he show up with flowers to beg her forgiveness and... what, propose? No way.

kuwisdelu
05-04-2016, 10:29 PM
I don't think getting pregnant is really misbehavior. Most seventeen-year-olds probably have had sex. Plenty of older people also have unplanned pregnancies. Things can happen, even when you do use birth control.

+1

Smart people still make mistakes and take stupid risks. At every age.

OP, you know your character, and the kid knows his mom, and probably has an idea of how she might react, which would likely affect whether he even decides to tell her or not. Kids aren't always so forthcoming with their parents. Just another thing to consider.

Chrissy
05-05-2016, 01:19 AM
Chiming in to agree with the no-slapping sentiment. As a reader, I would become extremely unsympathetic to what this mother is going through the second after she slapped her son in the face. I don't care if she's tiny. It's not cute. Being slapped in the face is humiliating and degrading. Mothers should not treat their teenagers (or children of any age) as a sub class of people they're allowed to slap.

Unless you were trying to make me hate her, in which case you'd be wildly successful. :greenie

ETA: as for how I'd react as the mother, I would be extremely upset, not about the abortion suggestion* but about the pregnancy. I'd probably drink an entire bottle of wine while crying, and then cry myself to sleep. I was a teenage parent and it is hard. I don't want that for my son.

And the next morning I would get over it and try to be as helpful as I could, knowing full well it was the pregnant teenager's decision, and making sure my son knew it, too.




*Irony of ironies, when I found out I was pregnant as a teenager and told the father, he also suggested an abortion, and I was livid. But looking back, I see that he was being reasonable, and even gentle. My issue was that the suggestion was unthinkable, wrong, etc. in my mind, even though I absolutely did not want to be pregnant.

ErezMA
05-05-2016, 01:31 AM
I would react very differently to the mother in your story, but I don't find her reaction implausible if she's the type to hit her kid.
Yeah, I'm probably going to tweak that part a bit. Imagining her, she's the kind to put a slap on her four year old child's bottom, but she's not the kind to hit to warrant criminal activity.


But there was one part that made me snort and roll my eyes: giving him money to buy flowers for the girl so she'd take him back. Her priorities seem to be all over the place there, so that's a bit jarring and would take me out of the scene.
I think my earlier line of thought was that I envisioned her to be around fifty and she was traditional. However, I'm sure I can keep her to still be traditional while approaching this in a new angle.


Basically, I reject the notion that "taking responsibility" = having the baby. To me, taking responsibility means discussing the best option available for everybody and seeing it through.
I agree. Responsibility, in my opinion, is ensuring a clear and healthy line of communication and having a game plan. So when she ran out crying, it's pretty evident there isn't much of a game plan.


Neither approach is unrealistic. It's all in how you establish this mom as a character prior to (and after) the relevant scene.
Good point. Thank you for that.


It might be rough for her to attend classes regularly if she has "morning sickness" for the first trimester, though. Depends on how bad it is and how easy it is for her to control with diet and avoidance of triggers. Female friends and relatives have been all over the board with that issue. A couple had it so bad they were in and out of the hospital for hyperemesis gravidarium for most of the pregnancy, but their cases were unusual.
That was the bulk for what I meant. How much school time missed because of body intolerances to foods or medicine she's had before with no problem. Also, how many times the doctors call the expected mothers in. I remember I was called in early to work because the girl who worked before me received a call from her doctor and worried about the baby because her blood pressure was a little high. For her, she gave birth that day (or the day after) but I'm sure it could just be a check-up in other cases.


To be honest, I don't really blame the boy for being in denial and wanting to continue his normal life. Yes, it's un-empathetic and immature, but he's 17, and pregnancy and parenthood are pretty serious abstractions for him at this time in his life
Imagining myself at 17, I sure as hell wasn't ready to take care of a child. Right now, I'm much more able but still doubt myself every now and then. I'm 27, ten years of difference.


The other had the baby and married (and quickly divorced) the dad. Her mom said she'd never forgive her if she had an abortion, but I don't think she (the girl) wanted to anyway. Interestingly enough, she never had another child in spite of being married three more times (the last one has stuck, and she's very happy with him for many years) and quite religious. Her daughter (now a grown up) has had a stormy relationship with her biological father off and on over the years. She never realized her original dream of 4-year college and vet school, though, and instead became a veterinary technician.
I understand I'm derailing for a little bit, but I have a hard time understanding this. From either direction, if you're forcing the girl, she's going to suffer.


I didn't mean it in a political way, but in a 'hey, this is not how every mother, or even theoretically most mothers' behave.
Right. Yeah, I based my character off my own and I did this action the way I imagined she would. Now, would she? Maybe, maybe not but I sure feel like she'd do something like that to me.


I don't think a dope slap upside a seventeen-year-old boy's head is any giant deal but it doesn't really help anything, either.
I feel there are those who think it would help and there are those who don't think it would help, but damn it, she's mad and that's what she'll do. I'm not 100% sure where she falls.


It depends on the set-up of the story. Was she the kind of parent who figured the kid got sex ed in school so he should know the score, or was she the kind that figured school was only for the basics? How sure of her parenting skills was she? Maybe she did have talks with him but now she's wondering if it was enough. Is she going to worry about condemnation from her peers (and will that make her feel guilty or angry?)? Does she know the girl well, or her parents? Is she going to worry about the girl's parents and their reactions/attitudes?

To answer your questions, I'd say she was reasonably involved in sexual education, as she's an RN. She and her husband only has one child, but she felt pretty confident. She wasn't worried so much about condemnation from peers as much as she's worried about the loss of her son's childhood (having to mature fast.) She's also worried about the financial impact and she's nervous when it comes to the news of big change like this. She knows her son's girlfriend well, although the two have been been in an unstable relationship. I believe the term is an 'on-again off-again relationship.'

And now that you mention it, she'll probably feel the need to have to try to defend her son when the mom's parents find out.


I don't think getting pregnant is really misbehavior. Most seventeen-year-olds probably have had sex. Plenty of older people also have unplanned pregnancies. Things can happen, even when you do use birth control.
This is purely a guess from me but I don't think many teens can say, "We planned to have this baby." Now if you went to your parents (Let's say they were in the mid-late twenties or older when pregnant), they could say, "Of course we planned to have you," even if they didn't, and you would never know.


Obviously, your character's reaction is going to hinge greatly on what type of person she is and be anywhere on the spectrum in terms of how beneficial or destructive it is.
What do you mean by that? If she slaps, would she be a bad parent? Would her calmness or ability to reason under pressure dictate who she is as a person?


At 17, though, these kids are pretty much adults and it sounds like the situation is such that they'll be 18 and have graduated before the baby is born, if that happens. To me, the whole grounding/sending the son to his room seems thoroughly out of place.
Legally? Sure. Emotionally? I'd agree with this on a case by case basis. I was not a mature person at 17 or even 18. I know others who were more or less mature enough and many others who weren't.

ErezMA
05-05-2016, 01:35 AM
Chiming in to agree with the no-slapping sentiment. As a reader, I would become extremely unsympathetic to what this mother is going through the second after she slapped her son in the face. I don't care if she's tiny. It's not cute. Being slapped in the face is humiliating and degrading. Mothers should not treat their teenagers (or children of any age) as a sub class of people they're allowed to slap.

Unless you were trying to make me hate her, in which case you'd be wildly successful. :greenie

Thanks for chiming in with your opinion. And no, she is most definitely not the antagonist. I wasn't aware that a slap could make her look so unfavorably. I suppose I want readers to get the impression of, "A mother who is hard on her child. A mother who is strict, but she does it because she loves her child."

I don't want the slap to make the audience thinking, "Is she someone you would find on an episode of Cops?"

Perks
05-05-2016, 01:35 AM
Just to be clear, it won't be up to the boy or his mother whether or not the girl has an abortion.

CassandraW
05-05-2016, 01:38 AM
Chiming in to agree with the no-slapping sentiment. As a reader, I would become extremely unsympathetic to what this mother is going through the second after she slapped her son in the face. I don't care if she's tiny. It's not cute. Being slapped in the face is humiliating and degrading. Mothers should not treat their teenagers (or children of any age) as a sub class of people they're allowed to slap.

Unless you were trying to make me hate her, in which case you'd be wildly successful. :greenie

Agree. Especially because this kid is in a scary, huge situation. It's not that surprising that a 17-year-old boy faced with this huge piece of news might have reacted in an upset kind of way, and thought first "oh shit, this would change my whole life if she has this baby." Fury surely wouldn't be my first reaction. Also, FYI, if one of my parents slapped me across the face at 17, I would have left home and I probably would not have returned. 17 is pretty damn close to adulthood. From 18 forward, I didn't live with or take money from my parents.

Do kids still get grounded at 17? That seems like a punishment for a younger teen. I sure as heck wasn't being grounded as a senior in high school.

And yes, I'd roll my eyes at the flowers.

I told Erez this in a rep, but I agree with those who say this is a character issue more than a "mom" issue.

The mother might be strongly anti-abortion or strongly pro-choice, or somewhere in between. That's going to affect how she reacts.

Assuming she's pro-choice, she might well feel that an abortion would be better for her son (and quite possibly for the girl) as well. If none of the parties involved have an issue with an abortion, an abortion does in fact make the problem go away -- it is not a huge wrenching issue for everyone. I have several friends who have had abortions and never thought twice about it. (I don't think I'd feel that way, but they do.)

A lot might depend on her feelings about the girl. If she loves and sympathizes with the girl, she might be upset that the girl was hurt, whatever she thinks about an abortion. But not everyone loves their son's girlfriend. She might think the girl is manipulative, out to ruin her son's future, etc.

Hell, she might even be a controlling bitch who isn't even thinking about her son's best interest, but has some selfish, narcissistic motivation of her own. Not all mothers are kind and nice and loving and rational.

In short, not every mom is going to react the same way in this situation, not by a long shot. This is about your character -- all of your characters. Who are they? What are their attitudes and temperaments? What is their relationship with one another?

If you want me to sympathize with her, she should sit her son down and tell him that it's not up to him whether the girl has an abortion, wake him up to his responsibilities, and tell him that she's there for him and the girl, whatever happens.

ErezMA
05-05-2016, 02:48 AM
For what it's worth, the grounding was imposed by the father. He tends to treat the son as a child because he considers the son's actions to be childish. (i.e: Getting in fights at school, cheating on tests, complaining over chores, etc.) He hasn't quite crossed the threshold into criminal behavior, but he is pretty much known as a troublemaker and the father refuses to treat his son like an adult until the son begins to act as such. (And yes, I'm well aware that's not the best way to deal with the situation.

The specific incident that led to the grounding was a fight at school. He was suspended for a few days and so his father forbade anyone from coming over and him to be in the house unless he's doing some chores directly around the house. (Shoveling snow, cleaning out the garage, etc.)

Trebor1415
05-05-2016, 07:58 AM
Don't forget the girlfriend can get the courts involved with this and go after him for child support.

Heck, I'm not 100% sure, but I think the GF's parent's or any adult can bring this matter to the court's attention and get child support because it is for the child, not the mother, and the court is looking out for the best interest of the baby. What I mean is I don't think the GF even has the option of turning down child support once the court gets involved and there's a lot of ways for the court to get involved.

Slightly different issue, i know.

shadowwalker
05-05-2016, 08:04 AM
For what it's worth, the grounding was imposed by the father. He tends to treat the son as a child because he considers the son's actions to be childish. (i.e: Getting in fights at school, cheating on tests, complaining over chores, etc.) He hasn't quite crossed the threshold into criminal behavior, but he is pretty much known as a troublemaker and the father refuses to treat his son like an adult until the son begins to act as such. (And yes, I'm well aware that's not the best way to deal with the situation.

The specific incident that led to the grounding was a fight at school. He was suspended for a few days and so his father forbade anyone from coming over and him to be in the house unless he's doing some chores directly around the house. (Shoveling snow, cleaning out the garage, etc.)

Actually, I had no problem with the grounding - and especially with this explanation. But I was old-school (still am) - my roof, my rules. I probably would have been a lot harder on the kid, even at that age. Hell, especially at that age. LOL

Silva
05-05-2016, 08:13 PM
EDIT: How much school time would pregnant teens in their second and third trimester be expected to miss for doctor appointments, etc.?

In my experience-- a normal, relatively healthy, relatively low-risk pregnancy under U.S. medical care (not sure what country you're writing this in) when I was 19-- prenatal visits will start around 13-14 weeks, and be once a month until the last month or so, when they start getting closer and closer together (two weeks apart, to once a week, to probably twice a week after her due date (many first time moms go "late")). But if she's graduating at 6-7 months, she'll still be on the one month schedule while she's in school, so there's no reason prenatal care would interfere with her school schedule unless she develops risks and needs special monitoring, or bed rest, or hospital care (such as an IV for dehydration if she can't keep anything down). It's quite reasonable to assume that she won't experience these complications, and also quite reasonable to write them in if you do need them. She will likely feel like crap, though, even in a healthy pregnancy, and may have difficulties concentrating/getting good grades.

Fruitbat
05-05-2016, 08:20 PM
A large school district near here has a school just for pregnant girls and girls with babies. Daycare is provided while the girls go to their classes in the same building. To get more ideas of the different ways this could all unfold, you might want to watch the reality TV teen mom show.

cornflake
05-05-2016, 08:39 PM
Yeah, I'm probably going to tweak that part a bit. Imagining her, she's the kind to put a slap on her four year old child's bottom, but she's not the kind to hit to warrant criminal activity.

I think my earlier line of thought was that I envisioned her to be around fifty and she was traditional. However, I'm sure I can keep her to still be traditional while approaching this in a new angle.

I agree. Responsibility, in my opinion, is ensuring a clear and healthy line of communication and having a game plan. So when she ran out crying, it's pretty evident there isn't much of a game plan.

That doesn't mean there can't be a game plan. He can be all 'can we sit down and discuss this calmly?"

Good point. Thank you for that.


That was the bulk for what I meant. How much school time missed because of body intolerances to foods or medicine she's had before with no problem. Also, how many times the doctors call the expected mothers in. I remember I was called in early to work because the girl who worked before me received a call from her doctor and worried about the baby because her blood pressure was a little high. For her, she gave birth that day (or the day after) but I'm sure it could just be a check-up in other cases.

Imagining myself at 17, I sure as hell wasn't ready to take care of a child. Right now, I'm much more able but still doubt myself every now and then. I'm 27, ten years of difference.

I understand I'm derailing for a little bit, but I have a hard time understanding this. From either direction, if you're forcing the girl, she's going to suffer.

No one in your scenario can actually force her to do any damn thing. The only people who could exert what might be called force are her parents and I disagree she'd necessarily suffer from it. My parents made clear there were no babies coming home when anyone was in h.s. Period, the end.

Someone mentioned the shows Teen Mom/16 & Pregnant. One girl on the latter show was told that by her parents. They wanted her to have an abortion but she didn't. She wanted to have the baby. They told her that was her decision, but she wasn't bringing it back to their house and they weren't supporting her or a baby financially if that was her choice. She was upset, she and her bf tried to find an apartment, and eventually, she decided to go with adoption. In the update, she was in college, doing great, and very grateful to her parents for pushing her into not screwing up the life plan she had had before she got pregnant. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would not do what they did, or who had someone force them into a decision that they then regretted. I'm just saying it's not necessarily a bad outcome to force a teenager to do something they don't want to do at first.

Right. Yeah, I based my character off my own and I did this action the way I imagined she would. Now, would she? Maybe, maybe not but I sure feel like she'd do something like that to me.

Again, your character is your character - and the place and environment the character inhabits belongs there too. Someone mentioned a whole school for pregnant teens near them, which made me boggle. I know there are pregnant teens. A cousin of mine (she grew up in a different box), had a pregnant friend in h.s. I'm a few years older and I was shocked, as when I was a teenager, I never ran into a pregnant teen. My high school, sibling high school, none, not one. In the case of one of our schools, we asked around and no one had ever heard of a pregnant student at it. It depends on many factors and what you're writing.

I feel there are those who think it would help and there are those who don't think it would help, but damn it, she's mad and that's what she'll do. I'm not 100% sure where she falls.

To answer your questions, I'd say she was reasonably involved in sexual education, as she's an RN. She and her husband only has one child, but she felt pretty confident. She wasn't worried so much about condemnation from peers as much as she's worried about the loss of her son's childhood (having to mature fast.) She's also worried about the financial impact and she's nervous when it comes to the news of big change like this. She knows her son's girlfriend well, although the two have been been in an unstable relationship. I believe the term is an 'on-again off-again relationship.'

And now that you mention it, she'll probably feel the need to have to try to defend her son when the mom's parents find out.

Defend him from what? The two of those kids are dumb. Sorry, but they are. Yes, very rarely properly-used birth control fails. If a condom fails, there's Plan B. So... for people not in a long-term, committed relationship, I'm going with dumbassery.

This is purely a guess from me but I don't think many teens can say, "We planned to have this baby." Now if you went to your parents (Let's say they were in the mid-late twenties or older when pregnant), they could say, "Of course we planned to have you," even if they didn't, and you would never know.


What do you mean by that? If she slaps, would she be a bad parent? Would her calmness or ability to reason under pressure dictate who she is as a person?


Legally? Sure. Emotionally? I'd agree with this on a case by case basis. I was not a mature person at 17 or even 18. I know others who were more or less mature enough and many others who weren't.

...

Fruitbat
05-05-2016, 09:07 PM
I agree with dumbassery (and its variants such as drunkassery and overly hot-to-trottery) as being by far the most prevalent cause of unplanned pregnancies.

ErezMA
05-05-2016, 09:35 PM
A large school district near here has a school just for pregnant girls and girls with babies. Daycare is provided while the girls go to their classes in the same building. To get more ideas of the different ways this could all unfold, you might want to watch the reality TV teen mom show.

I'd do a lot of things in order to get my novel to publishing quality but watching reality TV? I shudder at the thought. :p

ErezMA
05-05-2016, 09:38 PM
And Cornflakes, yes, the baby was conceived because of dumbassery. The son and his girlfriend did what many teenagers do, not think before they acted. And when I say defend, I mean advocate for the son, although I agree there's not much they can do.

cornflake
05-05-2016, 09:48 PM
And Cornflakes, yes, the baby was conceived because of dumbassery. The son and his girlfriend did what many teenagers do, not think before they acted. And when I say defend, I mean advocate for the son, although I agree there's not much they can do.

Why can't he advocate for himself?

I think there's something off there. You said the mother is very traditional. Wouldn't she then be more 'you're old enough to get into this situation, you need to figure out what's happening like an adult,' than 'I have to go speak for him to her parents?'

ErezMA
05-05-2016, 09:50 PM
As I've said before, the father looks to his seventeen-year old son as a baby. The mother knows she'll tell her husband and know that her husband will act that way and he can be a stickler and not be flexible for situations like this.

Fruitbat
05-05-2016, 09:58 PM
If it was my son, I would agree with him that it wouldn't be a good idea to have it or keep it. I would probably not speak to her parents but would speak to her. It would take me a while to figure out what exactly to say and how to say it. If my feelings were "All that should be considered are your own teenage emotions at this moment," or "I'd be thrilled to be a grandmother" that would be much easier to express without just making her hate you, which would be awful if she did decide to have and keep your grandchild. And, of course, I wouldn't want to feel like I had coerced her into anything.

Seventeen is just about grown and that figures in, too. It probably calls for a bit different approach than if they were thirteen or fourteen.

ETA: I think it also depends on the adults' values. I had high expectations for my kids' educations and such and would have been very disappointed if the great lives I wanted for them had been interrupted by teenage parenthood. But another parent of a teenager could be a fine individual but just see it all differently...

Another thing to consider, if she has it and keeps it then it's all different and most grandparents would probably do all they could to help and be crazy about the kid, I'd guess.

CEtchison
05-05-2016, 10:03 PM
I'd do a lot of things in order to get my novel to publishing quality but watching reality TV? I shudder at the thought. :p

Here's a link to a school that's just as Fruitbat described. I'd avoid reality TV too. :D

http://www.margarethudson.org/

Fruitbat
05-05-2016, 10:15 PM
I watch reality TV constantly. *hangs head in shame*

shadowwalker
05-05-2016, 11:35 PM
I would probably not speak to her parents but would speak to her.

That in itself could add another dimension to the story. Were I to reverse position, be the mother of the girl, and find out the mother of the boy was talking to her and not me, there would be such hell to pay... ;)