Sunday, September 07, 2014

Happy teen father's day - not

There's a sympathy piece on teen dads on Stuff this morning.

Essentially it is a call for more government resources to go into supporting teen fathers.

But two lines stand out to me. First, amongst their 'needs' is,

"...a focused approach to help them adjust to a loss of freedom."

What about a focused approach to help tham avoid a loss of freedom? Educating teens about the loss of freedom should get far more attention prior to the event. It's real.  That's why so many male teens run for the hills.

Though the next truism illustrates how that might be the female's choice.
 "Teen dads can only be as involved as teen mums let them."
The mother has control, and as long as she has custody, she's the one getting the financial support.

The welfare system doesn't encourage teen fathers to be involved except when they take over care of the child themselves as single dads. At March 2013, 77 males were receiving a Young Parenting Payment (latest data from an OIA - MSD site down all of today). There will be more in the 19 year-old group.

But most male teen parents don't form a steady relationship with the mother. In March this year there were 1,359 males under 20 paying child support. They will be paying it for the next 16-18 years. The more they earn, the more they pay. A disincentive. A handicap.

A different kind of lost freedom which can destabilise future relationships.

What's needed is secondary school education about the long-term financial implications of fathering a child whether or not he stays in the picture. I've done my bit with my son but those most likely to become teen dads may not have the advantage of motivated, aware parents. Hence the school system needs to step in.

Sadly there will be hundreds of teen dads who had no idea of the ramifications now saying to themselves, "I wish I'd known..."

1 comment:

alloy said...

I read the article.

I lacked sympathy.

(With my second child's arrival pending my extending my sentence until I'm 60 odd I'm the one who deserves sympathy)