The term ‘baby mama’ and it’s less famous equivalent, ‘Baby Daddy’ has gradually, unconsciously, and typical of all things copied from across the Atlantic, made its way into our vocabulary and has today become not only hip but is also playing a critical role in shaping our culture. With more of our celebrities who have huge social influencer credentials getting caught up in this syndrome and advertising it proudly, it is no surprise that suddenly being a “baby mama” or “baby daddy” as the case may be, has become a cool thing for many of our impressionable youngsters and teenagers.
Change is constant they say. But certain changes are worrying and present threats to our common existence. When I was younger, the news that a young lady got pregnant through premarital sex provoked a certain kind of reaction. Of disapproval. As a child, no one needed to tell you that getting pregnant or impregnating someone before marriage was simply unacceptable conduct. The fear of the associated stigma ensured you kept your legs together and your knickers, zipped up.
Today however, we seem to have done a complete U-turn. More and more celebrities and people who shape opinion are having babies out of wedlock. The media celebrates it. And more and more women talk excitedly about just “having his baby” and not “being his wife.” Indeed, there is increasingly emboldened argument against marriage itself and the liberalization of sex such that sex even among minors is becoming a normal thing. Now, when it is said that a neighbours delinquent teenage daughter is pregnant or that a stubborn cousin who talks back at his father has gotten a girl pregnant, people hardly flinch. At most, they sigh and then go on with whatever they were doing, unruffled. Unconcerned.
So what has happened? What is causing the meltdown?
The issue in my opinion is bigger than any one reason that anyone can adduce. People talk about a general break down of morals, about young people being more ‘corrupt’ these days. Others have indicted parents for abdicating on their responsibilities of raising their children aright. Others still have argued for sex education and safe sex, arguing against the treatment of sex like some kind of mystery, something discussed only in hushed tones by society, advocating for more openness. Today birth control methods are advertised without restrictions across all media channels. Yet even with the knowledge many young people simply lose the sense of control. Some others still blame it on globalisation and how the practices of the west are negatively influencing our own way of life, turning us into what we are not.
The answer to the question is a combination of all these arguments. For the most part, it is a consequence of our failure as a people to place emphasis on what should be important; the family. Over time, in our pursuit for wealth, career and the advancement of certain concepts that is supposed to promote a sense of freedom and indicate civilization, we have ended up complicating our lives and in the process putting a blade on the strings that hold us together as a people. Our sense of responsibility has become eroded and replaced by a dangerous mind-set that suggests that we are at liberty to live our lives anyhow we want to without giving a hoot about the consequences of our actions.
You see, events in the society today have conditioned us to believe that it is all right to be irresponsible. People steal public funds and become celebrated role models, opinion leaders and title holders. People engage in unscrupulous businesses, trafficking drugs and sending scam mails and are hailed as they drive by in their big cars. Some even become recognised as youth leaders. Young people have glamorised prostitution to such levels that the title of ‘Runs girl” is now some kind of professional career which many young ladies aspire to. We cite examples of people who have made it to the top simply by doing exactly what they should not be doing. The result is a general disposition to act ‘anyhow.’
Let me at this point note that there are circumstances where a woman has to raise her child alone because the pregnancy was a result of rape, some kind of mistake or because being with her partners threatened the life and security of herself and her child. While these women could be categorized as baby mamas, they are not the subjects of this intervention. This offering concerns strictly, the increasing engagement in unprotected sex and the advertisement of the resulting pregnancies by adults who are convinced that they are not ready to be parents, or in which only one half of the pair ends up being responsible for the upbringing and welfare of the child because the other pair is simply not ready for any commitments.
The consequences of this kind of behaviour are many and their implications grave. Let us be real with our selves, a child needs both parents as well as the love and safety a family provides for proper development and for them to become productive members of society. The kind of parenting advanced here is not the type in which an absent father sends money from time to time for upkeep. It is instead, one in which both parents live in the same home and everyone share the same surname. It is one in which both parents share responsibilities for the child’s upbringing and are there to provide guidance and direction. The home it must be stressed has a great influence on the child’s psychological, emotional, social and economic state. This is because the family background and presence of co-parental influence affects the child’s reaction to life situations and their level of performance.
There is a lot of research to this effect. Children raised by single mothers have been shown to be twice likely to misbehave as those born into traditional two parent families. A 2003 study in the US on how the absence of a father could lead to early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy found that about one-third of girls whose fathers left the home before they turned 6 ended up pregnant as teenagers, compared with just 5 percent of girls whose fathers were there throughout their childhood. Closer home here, a 2013 study by Azuka Obieke Uchenna of the University of Lagos on Single-parenting, psychological well-being and Academic performance of adolescents in Lagos, Nigeria found that children profited psychologically and academically when both parents provided aspects of an orderly and nurturing home life.
What these findings tell us, if it were not already clear enough by common sense, is that the more shame vanishes from our consciences and we begin to encourage the birth of children outside of the safety net of marriage and even celebrate the whole idea of it through the glamorization of such names as baby mama and baby daddy, what we are essentially doing is endangering the future of the earth and the universal brotherhood of mankind. As more young people influenced by the activities of their favourite celebrities begin to adopt this thinking and act on it, we gradually evolve a society that is heading for some kind of self-destruction.
There is therefore, an urgent need for us to focus on rebuilding the family as the most important unit of human existence. We need to search for and find the values of love and mutual respect which we seem to have lost along the line. Our young men must be made to understand that there is more to manhood than sowing wild oats and not feeling obligated to be permanent fixtures in the life of the children they beget. Our girls must know that being a woman is more than big hips and breast enhancements or the loose cash that they can get from randy men. Our children need to feel loved and be protected by their parents. They need also to be taught what is right to counter the effect of what they are exposed to through the media.
Our celebrities and role models should note that this hurry to replicate the lifestyle of Hollywood artists is essentially a race to the bottom. There are certainly so many things we can learn from them and be proud to emulate not the habit of having unprotected sex all over town and going about with the title of baby mama or daddy like it were some kind of trophy. There is no other way of describing this but plain irresponsibility.
Picture credit: www.etsy.com