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February 23, 2009

Chantelle Steadman and Alfie Patten – 15 year old mom and 13 year old father of baby Maisie: Who to Blame?

Just when I was starting to think that the Nadya Suleman octuplets story was going to be the strangest baby story we’d hear for a while, The Sun (UK) broke the story today of new father Alfie Patten. Ordinarily, fathers aren’t the centre of baby stories (sorry, but the attention is usually on mom!) but Alfie’s case is different. As it turns out, Alfie is only 13 years old. The mother, Chantelle Steadman, is an older woman at 15 years old.

The Sun UK website video of Alfie, Chantelle and baby Maisie is profoundly heart wrenching. It’s quite clear from the short video that neither new parent is quite ready for the demands ahead of them; Alfie in particular. He expresses a desire to be a good dad and care for Maisie, but doesn’t seem to have a plan to actually do that. He has said he will stay in school so he can get a good job to support his child; considering he’s only 13, the burden of financial support rests on the (thankfully involved) new grandparents.

The message boards have been heating up today over this issue; everyone seems to agree that this is an atrocious situation, but no one seems able to agree on where to place the blame. The children? Their parents? Popular culture? Society? There are many potential culprits, but no real solution, as I believe each issue is related to each other issue:

1) Blame the children: 13 isn’t as young as it used to be. Children seem to be growing up quicker these days, and they should certainly by now know what condoms are and how to use them. By 13, (and 15, for the mother!) you understand that having unprotected sex can certainly lead to pregnancy, even the first time (despite certain urban legends) and so they should have taken steps to prevent this.

2) Blame the parents: If the school isn’t providing adequate sexual education, shouldn’t the parents step up and fill in the blanks? Shouldn’t they have ensured that their children had access to accurate information by these ages? Did the parents even know their children were dating each other? Even though it can be hard, parents need to TALK to their children about the tough stuff, before it’s too late. Alfie’s dad is planning to have “the talk” with Alfie now, to prevent another unplanned baby. Where was that talk 9 months ago?

3) Blame popular culture: Children and young adults are inundated with super-sexual images from a very young age. They are exposed to advertisements, television shows, music videos and movies with sexual content. Even their clothes tend to be smaller copies of clothes designed for adults. They are taught to be “hot” or “sexy” before they even reach puberty; once puberty starts, they follow the examples set by the media and their favourite celebrities.

4) Blame society: Has society made it easier for young people to have and keep their babies? Teen parents seem more socially acceptable these days, and there are now special school programs that provide the special support the parents need to finish their education. Of course I’m not saying those programs are bad thing; of course young parents should still finish their education, absolutely! However, sometimes I wonder if we’ve made it so much easier for them, that there are few deterrents left?

Whatever the issue, I hope young Alfie and Chantelle keep their wits, and families, about them in the days ahead. Babies are cute and beautiful, and a wonderful gift, under good circumstances; circumstances like these make for a rough road ahead.

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3 Comment(s)

  1. emily | Jan 15, 2011 | Reply

    I think it is fine to start a life early. I am 21. I have two kids and they are cute. so it is fine to start a family early just lets hope they stay together for ever.

  2. Rochelle | Aug 1, 2011 | Reply

    I’m 15 and I have my Daughter Abigail Sarah is 1 Year, 10 Months, 11 Weeks and 6 Days I conceived her when I was 14 my Ex- Boyfriend is her Daddy he is 15 also but he left us My Parents are very helpful I still go to School but we do all we can to raise Abby right I love my Little Girl I regret having sex but I don’t regret getting Abby out of it.

    Also my Sister-In-Law is 20 she has a 1 year old Son from a Previous Ex-Boyfriend she was 19 when he was conceived I know I’m 15 and she’s 20 she’s considered an Adult now.

    As I said before I regret having Sex but I love my Baby she’s Improtant to me and Woman were having Babies as Teens before the law came it’s just how the world is it can’t be Prefect.
    Thanks for Reading

  3. Rochelle | Aug 1, 2011 | Reply

    Me too I’m 15 years old and I have a beautiful Baby Girl who is 1 year, 10 Month, 11 Weeks and 6 Days the Annoying thing was her Father who by the way is 15 also left us at least my Parents are taking care of us I love my baby and regret having sex at an early age but one thing I will never regret is having Abby I’m glad you have your Amazing Two Kids and are a Family I just wish my E-x Boyfriend had seen it your way too.
    Thanks

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