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Kids having kids

Claire (not her real name) is 16. In two months, she will graduate from high school at the top of her class. This summer, she will travel abroad on an internship with Doctors without Borders. In September, she will begin studying Pure and Applied Science at Dawson. In October, she will give birth to a baby boy.

"I've always been more mature than most people my age so I don't see a problem with having a baby," Claire says. "The way I see it, if I start having kids early, I finish having kids early too and I'm not too old and ugly to have fun by the time my kids go away to college."

Claire says she is going to work as the manager of a Shell gas station and move out of her house to marry her boyfriend, who is 26, as soon as possible.

According to Angela Freeman, a pediatric psychologist, the phenomenon of teens wanting to become parents is neither a new trend nor a rare one.

"I've dealt with cases where 12-year-olds came to me, telling me they felt they were ready to become parents," Freeman said. "Most of them don't go through with it, but sometimes it happens." Freeman explained that this usually appears when a child did not have a real family life, or had a bad one. Having an older significant other is also a reason teens may resort to having children. She says that being involved with an older person and trying to keep the relationship interesting is a lot of pressure.

"Teens often agree to do things per the demand of their older significant other, but the drastic decision of having a child at 15 or 16 usually indicates that the person has extremely advanced emotional dependency," Freeman said. "The most likely scenario is that these teens have never felt loved by anyone until they met this man or woman and they are not willing to give that up."

Claire, who is already four months pregnant, says she decided to have a baby because she felt it was the right time in her life. Her parents say the young girl never showed any signs of emotional instability and claim they were not aware she had been dating an older man for over a year.

"I knew they wouldn't approve of my boyfriend and that they wouldn't approve of me having a baby, that's why I didn't tell them," Claire said. "It has nothing to do with me being ashamed. I am so proud of being pregnant. It's the only good thing that's ever happened to me." After meeting Claire, Freeman says she is not surprised by her decision. She was an overachiever being run into the ground.

"Often, overachieving teens feel like the love of their parents depends on their achievements and they seek the unconditional love a child will give them," Freeman said. "They feel the need to start a family so that they can avoid making the same mistakes with their children that they feel their parents made with them."

Freeman says teens will continue having children younger and younger as family values disintegrate in North America due to the lack of family bonding or parental presence in a child's life. "I was never very close to my parents and I really want to be very close to this baby," Claire said. "I want to be like the Gilmore Girls with my son. Yeah, that would be nice."



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