Aruban teen mothers are getting youngerPOSTED: 03/19/15 6:36 PM
ORANJESTAD – “When I wake up in the morning and my little son looks at me from his cradle I really get warm inside.” Fifteen-year-old teen-mom Paula forgets her stress in those moments. “This school year I will have to do over again. I am arguing a lot with the father of my child and the infection in my belly hurts a lot.”
Paule was always the best student at the school where she followed a course in technique. But when she found out that she was pregnant at the age of fourteen, her world was turned upside down. “I knew immediately that I wanted to keep the baby. You are not going to let a child be removed, are you now?” Because her body was not yet fully grown and actually not ready to receive a baby, the pregnancy and the birth became painful and complicated.
One of Paula’s oviducts got infected and the doctor has advised her not to get pregnant against within the next five years. The wound of her Caesarian is not healing well either and for this reason she is unable to participate in her favorite class at school – welding. “The heat will make the wound reopen immediately.”
In 2014, 125 Aruban teenagers gave birth. That is below the 141 of the year before, but teen-mom counselor Monique Giel sees an alarming development. “The mothers become younger and younger. Children begin with sex at an earlier age, often when they are ten of eleven. A mother of thirteen or fourteen years of age is unfortunately no longer an exception.”
While Paula maintains that she is happy with her baby, she does not recommend to anyone to become a mother a so young an age. “Previously I went out a lot, but I cannot do that anymore.” Paula often has the impression that she is left alone to handle her situation. “I had one good girlfriend but when she told me that the father of my child was a loser, I sent her away. I do not want to see her anymore. I will do this alone.”
If Paula goes out for an evening at all, it is because her mother looks after the baby. She is happy with her mother’s support, but she did not always get it from her. “Previously my mother did not have a lot of time for me. Her boyfriend always came first. As a mother, I want to do things differently.”
“The role of the parents is important,” Giel emphasizes. “Whatever a child experiences in his or her years as a child, comes out during puberty.” Divorces can have a huge impact, Giel says, just like sexual abuse or ill-treatment. “A sexually abused girl who is not heard or not believed by her environment becomes very susceptible to the influence of a boy that gives her some attention. He only has to say that she is beautiful and she will sleep with him. Once she gets pregnant, the boy disappears and the girl gets stuck with the baby. And all this while a mother who still is a child herself, really does not know how to care for a baby.”
The baby starts crying, but Paula seems unimpressed. “He is just hungry.” After giving him his bottle, she lets her little boy burp. Within five minutes, he is sleeping in her arms.