Our Readers' Opinions
August 20, 2004

Teachers Mothers in classroom

Editor: I am a teacher in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and would like to express my views regarding the Ministry of Education’s policy to allow teenage mothers to return to school.
I’ve heard many arguments in favour of this, and to a certain extent I agree. However, there are a few considerations I’d like to point out.{{more}}
Few seem to know that patterns of behaviour, which we carry with us throughout our lives and which are very difficult to change, are formed in the first three to four years of life. Those are crucial developmental years and they can “make” or “break” a person. This is an incredible responsibility for the primary caregiver.
A grandparent, auntie or stranger can provide some of the attention and care needed for the security and stability of the child but it’s the mother, whose bonding begins in the uterus, who counts the most. Not exactly fair, but that’s reality.
A mother’s bonding (and to a lesser extent the father’s) helps guide the child’s physical, cognitive and psychological development. Without it, studies show psychopathology in adulthood, emotionally dependent and anti-social behaviour, increased incidents of alcoholism, depression and suicide, a myriad of problems.
The baby aside – though to me the proper treatment of this miracle is the most important issue – what lesson is this teaching the teenage mother and her peers? That through her own choosing (in most instances), she decided to have sex without birth control protection, brought a new life into the world, and then passed on the responsibility of its care and development to someone else.
This reinforces irresponsible behaviour – not-thinking-of-consequences-before-acting behaviour, “passing the buck” behaviour. Not the kind of thing schools should be teaching, in my opinion.
There are exceptions, of course. But in general, I believe that if you choose to bring a child into the world, you should give it the best start in life that you can. Education can come later because it’s never too late to learn. It IS too late to change the effects of early negative impressions.
A Teacher