Over the past year, the notion of teen pregnancy has been somewhat glamorized as our former governor and her daughter have done their best to spin their family situation.
But at Soldotna High School, family and consumer science teacher Meggean Bos is helping students understand the reality of caring for an infant.
"Pretty much we were all kind of exposed to pregnancy as teens, but it's not until you actually physically have something that's crying that you realize how much it is to take care of it," said Phoebe Napolitano, a SoHi student tasked with caring for an infant simulator -- essentially, a very high-tech Cabbage Patch Kid -- for a weekend.
Napolitano experienced many of the highs and lows of parenthood -- the excitement of first picking up your baby, along with the sudden realization that the very same cute and cuddly baby has constant needs, and that those needs must be put ahead of your own at all times.
Food, diaper changes, lugging the baby's carrier and gear to the grocery store, and even the social stigma associated with teen mothers -- students get a taste of the not so glamorous side of taking care of an infant, and they have to do it while balancing it with school work, extracurricular activities and a social life. Many students quickly discover that the constant attention a baby requires means some of those other things must go. Bos said many students find they can't go out during the weekend they bring their baby home. They don't sleep through the night, and they have trouble just finishing their homework -- and that's just one weekend, not the lifetime of commitment it takes to raise a real child.
Bos said her hope is that students look beyond the grade they earn, and talk with their parents about the impact a baby has on a family. Indeed, even when a family plans and prepares for a new addition, a baby's arrival can be overwhelming.
Most of the time, these life lessons are learned the hard way. In Bos' class, students have the opportunity of learning what it takes to care for a baby without the long term ramifications of parenthood.
It's a life lesson that would benefit every teen.
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