Sunday, 15 May 2011

There, I fixed it for you: SST on teen abortions ARGH! edition

With apologies to Pickled Think for stealing her awesome title idea. 

Tallulah has tweeted that the Sunday Star Times just shouldn't write about abortion again until they can show some understanding of the subject.  Here's how they could have handled today's shockstick rubbish.

First up - the headline, which is "Secret School Abortions" on Stuff's front page, in big bold letters and top of the news list, and "Schools arrange secret abortions" on the actual article page.  A friend pointed out if you replace the word "secret" with the word "private" (you know, like other health procedures) then much of the shock value melts away.

And actually, this is not really news at all.  What is the "new" angle for this story?  Is there suddenly  a Bill in the ballot to require parental notification?  Is it a new situation, that wasn't already happening?  The answer to the latter two questions is surely no, so why is it getting reported at all, especially so high up the news agenda?

But back to the article.  Don't worry SST, I've fixed it for you.  Read on:
A mother is angry her 16-year-old daughter had a secret private abortion arranged supported by a school counsellor.

Helen, not her real name, found out about the termination four days after it had happened. "I was horrified. Horrified that she'd had to go through that on her own, and horrified her friends and counsellors had felt that she shouldn't talk to us," she said.  (How exactly was she going through it "on her own" if she had talked to her friends and counsellors?  I think what this parent really means, and I think I would feel the same way, is "horrified that she'd had to go through that without me.")

She had suspected something was wrong, but her daughter insisted her tears were over everyday teenage dramas.  (Sadly unplanned pregnancy is an everyday teenage drama for many.  Let's get some really decent sex ed going on to sort that, and give clear messages to everyone about agency over your own body, that it's ok to say no, and sexy to ask for consent).

But Helen confronted her daughter's friends, who said the counsellor had taken the girl for a scan and to doctors. "I didn't know that they could do that." 

Helen said teachers could discuss how a student was doing in school or phone parents when their child misbehaved, but would then keep life-changing situations such as abortions secret private(It is more life-changing not to have an abortion imho.)

Her daughter had since told her the counsellor "wasn't very forthcoming" with advice. The counsellor did ask the girl if she had talked to her parents, but never pursued it.  ETA:  The counsellor respected the privacy of the student, as per the law and the ethical requirements for the profession.

Helen said follow-up counselling for her daughter was "nonexistent". She concedes patient confidentiality is a tricky issue and said her child feared she'd be disowned. "She's come to realise that's not the case. But if you're responsible for them, surely you should be told."  (Why did this young woman fear that she would be disowned?  Why didn't she feel she could tell her mother herself?)

Helen has been too upset to approach the school. "Afterwards I was too wild, and I probably still am."  (Too upset to talk to the actual school, but just the right amount of upset to do a media interview about it?  How did this story get in the paper again?)

Another mother who was worried for her 15-year-old daughter "hit a brick wall" when she approached the school, and eventually discovered it was a friend of her daughter's who had undergone an abortion. "But I went through the horror of knowing that under the legislation, they did not need to say anything to me. were obliged to respect the privacy of their students."  (Why is it so horrifying to allow your daughter to control her own body?)

One teacher told the Sunday Star-Times she had seen parents become "absolutely livid" after finding out they had been kept out of abortion decisions. She knew of a Year 13 student who had had two abortions – one with her parents' knowledge, and one without.    (Anecdote, not evidence)

She said the law catered for the "lowest common denominator" – pregnancy as a result of incest or rape, but girls sometimes did not want to tell their parents for fear they would react badly or demand prosecutions for statutory rape if their daughters were under 16. ETA:  The law does not automatically allow abortions in cases of rape or incest.  Police are able to use discretion around prosecutions for statutory rape and such charges are very rarely laid.

Christchurch lawyer Kathryn Dalziel, who wrote 'Privacy In Schools: A guide to the Privacy Act for principals, teachers and boards of trustees,' said students who saw counsellors were promised confidentiality, and the service was bound by would respect the Health Privacy Code.

"When it comes to contraception and abortion, they [counsellors] would need the consent of the person before they could share information with a parent or the school," she said.

"If that protection disappeared, you can pretty well guarantee the young person won't tell the counsellor a thing – particularly the thing you need them to talk about."

And a counsellor who broke the rules and told a parent without the child's consent could be struck off ETA: for breaching privacy and potentially putting the child at risk.

Dalziel said she would be devastated if any of her daughters had an abortion without her support. "But knowing it is something that could happen, my whole thing about raising my children is to know how to listen and learn and get information."  (THIS!!!!)

Guidance counsellor Helen Bissett said the situation could be an "ethical nightmare", and a number of schools now had wellness centres so girls could see a nurse, not a counsellor.

Not knowing how a parent would react was one of the main reasons girls wanted to hide the truth, she said.  "In the heat of the moment, parents can say some pretty rough stuff but once they've got through that, they're often really supportive."

She talked to students "long and hard" about getting a family member involved. Girls had to see a doctor for tests, scans and see two certifying consultants before they could have an abortion. The consultants explained the health risks and the girl had to sign a form saying she understood and consented.  (Finally, some actual facts about the process, maybe this could have been nearer the start?)

"I don't organise any and I never want to," Bissett said. "I go with them to the doctor, but I won't go to a termination."  (I sincerely hope she makes sure someone is going to the termination with them though.)


Statistics New Zealand figures show that 3950 11- to 19-year-olds had induced abortions in 2009. Of those, 79 were aged between 11 and 14, ETA: representing 0.45% of all abortions that year.  In 2009 there were 17,550 abortions performed, a two percent drop from 2008.   Under section 38 of the Care of Children Act 2004, a female of any age can consent to an abortion. In 2004, then opposition MP Judith Collins put forward an amendment to prevent girls under 16 from having an abortion without their parents' knowledge. The amendment was voted down. ETA:  In 2010 current opposition MP Steve Chadwick, a former midwife, was investigating putting a Private Members' Bill which would decriminalise abortion and make it the choice of the pregnant person.  Parents are legally responsible for their offspring until the children turn 18 or marry, enter into a civil union, or a de facto relationship with their parents' permission. 

I've chopped off the bit on the end about the young woman who didn't have an abortion.  While I'm glad she was able to share her story, and it shows that teen motherhood doesn't have to be The End Of Your Life, I'm not sure how it is at all relevant to the article.  She states clearly that abortion was never an option for her.  Surely it would have been better to have sought a story from someone who had an abortion whilst a teen?  Bit of balance perhaps for all the parent-perspectives in the article?

Ok, that's enough Rageyness from me for one morning.  Time to finish my hot chocolate and eat some cake.  Mmmm cake.

ETA:  Speaking of cake, go read my favourite cake-baker's excellent post on just this topic (the awful SST article, not cake).

ETA2:  There are heaps of good posts out there on this issue - feel free to add yours in comments, I don't have time to do a round-up but will just add here a link to the ALRANZ release on parental notification today, which is bursting with relevant factual goodness.


Anonymous said...

I know. I was just so gob-smacked when I read the article.

And as I said elsewhere, while I admire the young woman who chose to go through with her pregnancy (I'd never begrudge any woman for doing so) it creates a bad juxtaposition.

Angry mother about her child getting an abortion || happy young woman with her smiling baby.

Passive-aggressive much?

Pip said...

Yes, I agree with you completely! I also couldn't understand why there was an accompanying piece about a teenager who went through with her pregnancy. It seemed to pass judgement without explicitly stating as much.

Nicholas O'Kane said...

It is a bit of a new situation as the parents are upset about it, whereas many times the parents don't find out.

The parents are rtight to be upset as it is their daughter, and as parents have responsibilities for their wellbeing and upkeep.

You ask "were obliged to respect the privacy of their students. (why is it so horrifying to allow your daughter to control her own body?)"

Leaving the debate over the personhood or moral staus of the fetus/unborn child aside, the government does not give minors full control over their bodies, but instead sets requirements that parents be involved for some descisons. This is hardly unreasonable.

Imagine this scenario. A child wants to get a tattoo. The child goes and tells a school guidance counsellor she wants a tattoo. The guidance counsellor aranges (I mean "supports") her get a tattoo done secretly (I mean "privately"). The parent says "I went through the horror of knowing that under the legislation, they did not need to "were obliged to respect the privacy of their students".

Would you write a post if this story came up asking "why is it so horrifiying to allow your daughter to control her own body?" If the story was about secret (I mean private) tatoos beving done instead of abortions

Yes I do believe counsellors should respect the privacy of their students. But that does not mean assisting them in getting abortions. So the girl could go to the counsellor and tell him or her she wants an abortion. The counsellor can keep this secret. Its another thing to secretly (I mean privately) arrange for an abortion to take place.

Trouble said...

Nicholas, you're missing the point. It's not new at all, and conservative parents who want to be able to ban their kids from having abortions have been complaining about this state of affairs for a long time (along with the ones who just feel hurt that they're making this decision without their guidance, and it's the latter who get all the press because the former are just appalling). This is why Judith Collins drafted a private members bill along those lines a few years back.

Tattoos are a fashion statement and don't seriously inconvenience you if you have to wait to get one. Abortions can save the life, education, future prospects, family relationships and physical and mental health of the person receiving one, especially if they're very young. Unless you're walking in their shoes, you shouldn't get to decide for them.

Anonymous said...


Tell me if your teenage daughter came to you and said that she was pregnant and was going to get an abortion, what would you do. If your answer is "I would kick her out", then that, sir, is the reason why we need these privacy guidelines in place.

Im sorry, but sometimes teenage girls need to be protected from their parents bullying, and I dont care if some god-botherers jump up and down because of it.


Cara said...

The juxtaposition of the anecdote at the end with the tone of the rest of the article seemed to be intended to create "good" and "bad" scenarios of teenage pregnancy. It was awful, especially awful that the message in it seems to be that there is something wrong with choosing abortion and that a counsellor at school would be doing the wrong thing by supporting a student.
I like your version a million times better.

Cara said...

I think it is better for anyone who discovers she is pregnant to have the choice in what they want to do.
And I think a counsellor supporting or advocating for a student's choices is admirable.

Amanda said...

Haha no probs Julie :)

My takeaway: *pearl clutch* OMG a young woman behaving like the adult we want her to grow up to be?! IT MUST BE STOPPED!

Julie said...

Thanks for the responses - I think commenters above have more than adequately responded to Nicholas' points.

A further question, a friend has pointed me to a Family First media release on parental notification, dated today. Make with the clicky if you want to feel icky. Now assumedly the media release came out after the story did, as there was a teaser for the SST article on the telly last night. And the FF release quotes poll results from 2010. So again, where is the NEWs value in this story? Why is it worthy of not just the top story on the Stuff website but also, I noticed this afternoon, a huge banner headline and most of the front page of the physical paper too?

Anonymous said...

Just a final comment (sorry Julie, I know you sorta closed it off):

Abortion: A health issue.
Tattoos: Not.

As for our dear wee Bob, a poll revealed something? Must be true. Well, folks, I'm convince now. Sorry but I am swapping sides. (If I knew how to put a html tag for comic sans font I would).

And for gosh-darned heck's sake, Bob, when publishing a media release on a website, do not use underlined blue text unless it is a sodding hyperlink.

Muerk said...

If this was any other surgical operation the doctor would not proceed until he had a consent form signed by the child's legal guardian.

We aren't talking about women here, but girls. Girls who live at home with their parents and who are not independent adults. Who provides the after-care for these girls? What happens if she has an infection or excessive bleeding?

Parents are responsible for their children, as such they should be informed.

Anonymous said...

Ok Muerk,

Come on, out with it girl, what would you do if your teenage daughter got preganant and wanted an abortion? Kick her out? Beat the crap out of her?

Why dont you go back to where you came from you filthy god-botherer.

Its people like you who cause misery in the world.

Trouble said...

I think it's possible to respectfully disagree with Muerk, who extends us that courtesy as far as I've seen.

That being said, everything bad that can happen after an abortion can also happen after or during a pregnancy, especially a concealed one. Miscarriage is a greater risk than problems after an abortion.

Muerk said...

If I had a teenage daughter (I have sons) who had an abortion I would be emotionally devastated. I would grieve for my grandchild who had been lost and I would grieve for my daughter having to go through something like that.

I would not kick her out, or beat her. I would love her and care for her. All my children have a home with me, no matter what. I'm their mother and I love them unconditionally.

katy said...

"I don't organise any and I never want to," Bissett said. "I go with them to the doctor, but I won't go to a termination." (I sincerely hope she makes sure someone is going to the termination with them though.)"

Reading the article made me think quite a bit about how far the responsibilities of the school/teacher/guidance counsellor might extend in this kind of situation. I think informing your student of their choices is right and of where to go in order to get more info or to action decisions etc but I would be interested to know how far schools see their role as extending beyond this.

AnneE said...

Thank you very much for your brilliant rewrite, Julie. This story was a complete beat-up. Interestingly, teenagers can also sign consent to an adoption without telling their parents and there is nothing in the current (1955!) law to ensure that they get any kind of counselling. Once she is pregnant it is her decision. Terribly sad if she feels she can't tell her parents but hardly a new or suddenly newsworthy issue. I'm still waiting for the movie about a pregnant woman of any age trying to decide what to do which ends with her getting on with her life, knowing she made the right decision to have an abortion...

LudditeJourno said...

Great rewrite Julie.
I find it extraordinary that no one has asked the question "I wonder why Girl A doesn't want to tell her parents?"
There is just an assumption that parents should know what's going on, without any exploration of the reasons why young women (and young men) might not be wanting to tell their parents if they are pregnant and do not wish to give birth.
I genuinely think that is sad - and that it's likely to have lots to do with judgmental attitudes to teen sexuality; fear of parental reaction to sexuality and/or choosing an abortion; fear of parents in general perhaps.
I also, working in the area of young people's sexual lives, find it nearly IMPOSSIBLE to imagine a school counsellor not exploring this (telling parents) with a young woman who has come to them to talk about being pregnant. The article implies counsellors love facilitating abortion without telling parents. I'd say counsellors try to support young women, and respect their wishes around telling family members after careful discussion about the pros and cons.

Boganette said...

Nicholas - Aside from all the other reasons why your "tattoos are like abortions" rubbish is wrong - the main reason - it's actually illegal for anyone under 18 to get a tattoo.

Muerk - "If this was any other surgical operation the doctor would not proceed until he had a consent form signed by the child's legal guardian" - 1) I don't even think that's true. 2)Abortion needs to be treated differently in this instance to other surgical procedures. Because a young woman isn't likely to be forced to carry a pregnancy, beaten by her parents, disowned, emotionally abused etc if she needs her appendix out. The emotional wellbeing of children should always be considered a priority over the selfishness of parents who are meant to be acting in the best interests of their daughters.

Muerk said...


1. I think it is, but I could be wrong. Certainly when my children have needed medical procedures requiring a consent form I've had to sign it. Heck they won't even freeze warts at the GPs without a parent being there, which is a pain since the GP is just over the road.

2. When you have children they come out so vulnerable. As a mum I (and my husband) was the one who fed, clothes and kept my babies clean and healthy. You worry over them, love them, are there for them when things in life go wrong.

For me, it is abhorrent that if I had a daughter, a professional from their school could be involved in something so intimate yet I would be excluded. Yet I am the person who loves them unconditionally, who cares for her more than myself.

To be fair, if I had a daughter I would not actually be too worried about this because I don't think she would have an abortion without my knowledge. I have four sons, so my worry is that their girlfriend gets pregnant and has an abortion without their knowledge.

As a prolife parent, the best way I can pass on my belief in the personhood of the fetus is not to rail against abortion, but to talk about what it was like when I was pregnant with them. And they remember when I was pregnant too. The boys used to talk to James when he in utero. They also like looking at anatomy books and seeing the development of the fetus.

At Church there was a prolife display, and they asked what 'abortion' was, so I told them. They were genuinely shocked. One of them said, "But it's illegal right?"

In my experience, which admittedly is limited, Catholic girls/women who get pregnant keep the baby and are solo mums with support from their families. I know at least three who come to mind, from very devout families, all who kept the baby with family support. This was their choice and they weren't pressured by their families either.

Years ago I was in McDonald's in Merivale, Christchurch. It was night and there were a bunch of guys being loud and silly. They hassled one lad because his girlfriend might be pregnant. One guy asked if she was Catholic, he replied no, and the other said "Good, 'cos they always keep the baby."

There are Catholic girls who have abortions, but really the best way to stop abortions is for parents to tell their daughters that they will support them and love them. My mother said to be that if I got pregnant it wouldn't matter, a baby was a good thing and things like education could always be achieved, baby or no, but DRUGS! Stay away from drugs!

So I actively said to my boyfriends that I would not have an abortion and if they didn't like it, don't have sex with me. (I wasn't Catholic then.) I knew I had my mother's support.

what this whole thing says to me is that parents need to talk to their kids about sex before they go having it.

Sorry for such a long rambling post.

Boganette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Boganette said...

1) Facts not anecdotes please.

2) You would be excluded because it's not your business and you would pressure your daughter into a forced pregnancy which would likely be a risk to her physical and mental health and well being. Luckily, you don't have a daughter. I say luckily for both you and her - you wouldn't be in the position where you wouldn't be able to find out information your daughter doesn't want you to know about. And she wouldn't have to deal with having a parent she can't get judgement free advice about abortion from.

In terms of "my worry is that their girlfriend gets pregnant and has an abortion without their knowledge" - It's just so unfortunate you can't control your sons' partners, isn't it? Maybe you could campaign for a law where the bodies of the women your sons shag could become your property?

The rest of your reply is just stories that don't mean anything to anyone who isn't Catholic and anti-choice. If I said I knew a bunch of Catholic women who were disowned and beaten or were forced to carry their pregnancies against their will and whose lives were devastated by those decisions forced on them would that change your view? No? Fancy that! If I said that little Johnny heard about abortion and said "I'm glad women are allowed to make health choices themselves instead of their bodies being held hostage by fundamentalists and misogynists" would that warm your heart? Come on now.

Anecdotes don't mean shit.

*edited for typo!

Muerk said...

Until my children are adults then it is my business. That's why parents want to be notified about their daughters. It's completely reasonable.

Moz said...

There's actually a really broad exemption from "parental consent" for emergency procedures. If your kid's appendix bursts at school you probably don't want them waiting for your consent before doing anything about it.
The abortion case is special because there's such widespread disagreement about sexual matters. But so are issues around homosexuality, STDs, contraception and so on. Having an adult outside the family that kids can talk to is essential, and part of that is confidentiality. To me, it is an essential consequence of this that the adult is allowed to act on behalf of the child. Whether that's authorising treatment for the consequences of abuse or helping the child conceal evidence of transgressions, it's not the designated supportive adult's position to make those judgement calls, it's wider society.
The same rule/law has to apply to the child who is pregnant from their abusive parent and the child who is pregnant after another willing sexual event. We can't know which is which without creating conditions that will make the child less likely to disclose. So we err on the side of encouraging disclosure. I'm happy with that.
I prefer that the adult try to persuade the child to avoid sex, use contraception, tell their parents and clean their teeth. But that is secondary to the main thing: encourage the child to tell an adult. Children are not equipped to know what is normal, so we need to focus on "ask an adult if you're not happy".

Muerk said...

"There's actually a really broad exemption from "parental consent" for emergency procedures. If your kid's appendix bursts at school you probably don't want them waiting for your consent before doing anything about it."

True, and as you say, rightly so.

I agree we have to protect children from predatory parents, ie incest or parents who would abuse their children if they knew, but I do disagree with a blanket ban.

Really what this says to me is that parents need to work on having good communication with their children. I agree with parental notification laws, but I don't think we're going to get them.

I know what... How's about we stop abortions instead!

Julie said...

@Muerk, what concerns me deeply about all this is that in the past you have commented about your experiences giving advice and support on a pregnancy crisis phone line. Are you still doing this?

Trouble said...

As I understand it, the entire crisis pregnancy industry is staffed by pro-lifers.

As someone else said somewhere else, there's no blanket ban on informing parents. It's just that the patient gets to decide whether it happens or not. She's in a better position than anyone else to decide whether that's safe. Abuse by family members isn't as rare as it should be, especially amongst very young pregnant people.

Speaking of which, I'm curious about Muerk's position on the Brazilian 9 year old whose mother and doctor (but not abuser) were excommunicated for organising her abortion.

Muerk said...

I've never worked on a pregnancy support phone line. I am a Billing Ovulation Method teacher and I know people who work for Family Life International which does do crisis pregnancy support.

My views on the 9 year old are simple and the same for anyone who gets pregnant. The fetus should be allowed to live, since they are a person. However should the mother's life have to be saved, then it should be, even if this harms the fetus.

My guess (and I acknowledge I don't know) is that the fetus could have grown to viability and the 9 year old could have a caesarian section, since her pelvis wasn't fully developed.

As the excommunication - that's a blanket automatic thing. Anyone who helps or participates in an abortion is excommunicated by the act alone. It happens automatically.

I might point out that anyone who has committed a mortal sin can not be a communicant, ie take Holy Communion, until they repent and confess.

Muerk watch said...

Muerk's view:

DPF:TLDR said...


Doesn't a system of ethics that has "automatic" condemnations based on a hair trigger response to a certain action without any consideration of individual circumstances strike you as rather morally mechanical?

But you know I should really admit that I am concern trolling to a certain extent here; perhaps if excommunication were something other than being sternly told off by somebody else's imaginary friend this would really be a big deal to me.

Muerk said...

It isn't just a system of ethics though Hugh. It's about being in communion with the Church (the Church here being the group of believers rather than the buildings). It doesn't stop someone from being Christian, but it does mean that people can not participate in the Sacraments of the Church and things like a Church burial if they die.

Excommunication is considered by Church teachings to be medicinal, with the hope that the person excommunicated will work towards being absolved and returned once again to communion.

And not all excommunications are automatic, abortion happens to be a case where it is. It is so because of the seriousness of taking the life of an unborn person.

DPF:TLDR said...

I realise excommunication has implications beyond the moral. I also realise it's not always a trigger response. So? Neither of those address my point. You are still taking a moral decision out of human hands. You are still refusing to brook dissenting views. You are still making a 100%, unqualified assertion that 'X is always wrong no matter what". The fact that X isn't wrong according to non-religious philosophy is actually irrelevant to the point I'm making.

Muerk said...

Perhaps I'm not understanding your point then.

"You are still making a 100%, unqualified assertion that 'X is always wrong no matter what.'

Yes, that is certainly true. I do believe that abortion is always wrong. Given how sinful it is, I think excommunication is the right response to it.

Moz said...

Muerk, we haven't even banned the killing of viable adults yet, so asking for a ban on abortion is a bit rich. I note even your Pope is still struggling with basic ethical questions like killing people, so tricky stuff might have to wait a while...

Muerk said...

Moz - not sure what you mean. If you are talking about capital punishment the only way that's considered morally legitimate in Catholic teaching is if there is no way to keep society safe through jailing them.

Or are you discussing the just war theory? As I said, I'm not sure.

Personally I'd like to stop all murder and killing, born and unborn.

Trouble said...

I don't care about excommunication so much - a religion can bestow or withdraw as many imaginary god points as it likes, as far as I'm concerned. It's the supposition on the part of many of its adherents that the best people to make the decision on behalf of the 9 year old are not her and her family, but a bunch of strangers who guess that inflicting a 30-plus week twin pregnancy and a caesarian on an abused 9 year old is in her best interests.

Not only does that put a lie to the "oh, the poor parents left out of their teenage daughter's life-changing decision" concern trolling; but it's a very good argument in and of itself against religious as a source of morality.

Muerk said...

Trouble: is killing an innocent person ever justified?

DPF:TLDR said...

You know Muerk there's a whole other thread to ask those kinds of questions, one whose existence you have been repeatedly directed towards.

I do have some other things to say in respect to that, but this isn't the place.

Trouble said...

A fetus or embryo isn't a person. If Family First had the guts to poll people on whether they would let an unborn embryo physically damage their living child (and even the safest, most wanted pregnancy involves a little damage here and there) I think they'd get a different answer to their rigged question.

Boganette said...

"Until my children are adults then it is my business." - And when do they magically become adults to you Muerk? You don't own your kids. They will make their own decisions in life whether you like it or not. Your view isn't actually reasonable at all. It puts your needs and religious views ahead of the well-being of your kids. That's selfish not reasonable. Again, instead of trying to force your children (by law) to talk to you - maybe you could try a create an environment where they feel safe talking to you? Just a thought...

Tamara said...

I am a mother to two little girls. I am pro-choice. I am endeavouring to raise them with unconditional love so that they will always feel they can speak to me about anything. They are not my things to control. As a parent I feel that pregnancy is something that I would want my daughter to talk to me about so i could support her. However, if they one day end up in this situation and feel they cannot come to me about it then that will have been my fault alone. It would then be up to me to examine myself and my parenting and see where I went wrong. These parents should be grateful their daughters had someone to go to.

katy said...

How has this turned into a discussion focussed on blaming parents for the decisions of their children? There are all sorts of reasons why young women/men might want to keep this kind of information private from their families and it seems pretty rough to assume that this would be because the parents have alienated their children and destroyed the relationship. Sometimes you just want to make decisions without everyone else sticking their oar in, without your decision being scrutinised by the tribe, however well-meaning they are and however much you love them. A young person can have an excellent relationship with their parent/s and still want privacy.

Julie said...

Agreed katy, I think there is a balance to be found, that's a timely reminder (for me too).

Those reading here may also be interested in Idiot/Savant's brief post on the matter.

lenore said...

Thanks Katy - young people can have great parents and not want to inform them about things. The main thing is they grow up with good support - doesn't have to be the nuclear family way eh. Sure I would like to know stuff but as long as my girls have someone to talk to where they can make informed decisions - their nana, a teacher they like, auntie, family planning, friend's parent, older sister etc, then I as a parent need to get over my own 'stuff' (maybe jealousy, possesiveness even?) that they didn't turn to me.

The difference is however when/if they want to turn to us parents and feel they can't because we come across as being too bloody narrow minded about the world, whether it be about abortion, sexuality, what ever.

I want my girls to make informed decisions about themselves that is based on factual, fair information not emotive propaganda pushed by certain lobbies and maintained by our legal system. And get the support they want/need to do this. I want them to trust other adults and see that there are people in the community to help/support, not just their nuclear family.

Tamara said...

Fair enough katy. I suppose I was coming at that from the perspective of why does a particular parent feel entitled to be told about such a thing/why would this parent be angry about not being told. If the parent is blaming someone else (i.e. the counsellor) for not telling her then it seems to me there is likely to be a more complex dynamic than when the young woman simply has her own reasons to keep it private (that don't stem from a poor relationship with the parent). If the relationship is excellent then I can't see the parents behaving in the manner described.

katy said...

Lenore, I think that is a great approach. I was just struck by how much of the discussion I have seen around this article has painted the desire for privacy as a negative thing and something that good parents would try and overcome. While I know that it is true that for some young people privacy is an important part of being safe and that we can't ignore this, I think it is also possible to see the desire for privacy as a healthy and positive thing.