Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Bristol Palin is the beautiful, intelligent 17-year old daughter of Sarah Palin, who is a woman whom many of us hope becomes the first-ever female to serve as the Vice-President of the United States, and one day possibly the first female President. A woman who is an example for all young women to follow, and whom I would love to become a role model for my own young daughters. Bristol is also pregnant with a child fathered by her boyfriend. All the important people are saying all the 'politically correct' things that they are supposed to say like "It's a family matter", "It's a private matter", "It's no one's business but Bristol, the young man, and their families." All good, correct, proper positions to take. Of course when your mom is running for Vice-President, as Bristol's mom is, it really is not, nor should it be expected to be, that simple. Our parents watched on TV as little John-John and Caroline Kennedy ran around the White House. I watched as a teenager as young Amy Carter went through that awkward, ugly-duckling phase. And most of you old enough to be reading and understanding this were likely old enough to have experienced the growing pains of Chelsea Clinton and both Jenna and Barbara Bush. Fact is, when you make the decision to accept a call to national office as Sarah Palin has, you accept that your family, your past, your entire life and the lives of those important to you are going to become public knowledge. In today's day and age, that means that you and yours are going to become the topics of water cooler conversations, blogger opinions, gossip show episodes, magazine covers, etc. I don't know much about Bristol Palin yet, but believe me when I say that we all will know much more about her in the coming days, weeks, months, and hopefully years. I pray that she will be healthy, that her child will be healthy, and that the relationship with her boyfriend ends up strong enough to support a happy marriage and life-long partnership and commitment. All that said, the main thing that I pray for young Bristol Palin is strength. She is going to need it, not just because she will now come under more intense public scrutiny, but just for the fact of becoming a parent as a teenager. I know, I've been there, done that. I was 17 years old when I learned that my high school girlfriend was pregnant. We had been dating for almost three years when we found out that our lives were going to change. Much like Bristol Palin, we made the correct decision to have the baby, not abort it and end it's life for our convenience. We also got married, which may or may not have been the best decision. No matter the circumstances, it is difficult for a 17-year old to appreciate what "the rest of your life" means. The marriage lasted over a decade, and we had another child along the way. We also had many challenges that most young people our age don't have to face, and in the end were not strong enough to keep it together. But my two daughters are beautiful young women of whom I am very proud, much as Sarah Palin is proud of her daughter in these trying circumstances, and despite all the difficult times over the years, I just would not want to imagine a life without them in it. And my oldest also went through a similar situation, single parenthood in her 20's, now twice over. I hope that she marries the man who is the father of my grandson. He seems like a nice guy with a good heart who generally has his head on straight and his priorities mostly appropriately aligned. We all hope for the best for our children, for some concept that we have of a 'perfect' and 'normal' happy life. But reality has a way of stepping in and making you adjust on the fly. Sarah Palin has done the right thing by teaching her children abstinence and providing a moral leadership and value system in her home. But the fact remains that Bristol Palin is her own person, and so are the other Palin kids. They are going to have challenges in their lives that their parents will have to help them through, that is the nature of being a parent. You don't weaken your values system just because of a situation, you instead use those situations as opportunities to strengthen your family even more, and to provide an example for others as to how families should react during such challenges. You don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Young Bristol Palin is going to have it a bit harder, at least for awhile, than she would have had she not gotten pregnant. She is going to come under a microscope, because even if many in the more professional news services do generally abide by the public calls for privacy, that won't be the case with all. She will be followed, photographed, videotaped. Questions will be yelled, hollered, whispered at her anywhere she goes in public. They won't come from her friends and neighbors in Wasilia, Alaska. No, the pregnancy was no secret there, and the regular folks of that town and region frankly could care less as it relates to Sarah Palin's election efforts. Young Bristol will have it hard, but her life is far from over, in fact it is just beginning, much as that of her young child will be just beginning. Perhaps more than anything that is the biggest lesson to be learned here. The lesson on the importance of life and it's value. The importance of the life of Bristol Palin's little baby. The baby may force Bristol into a bit of a pregnant pause in her life, but should not change anything about the families value system or what they teach their younger children. God bless the Palin family and the family of the young man involved, and especially the new life that God Himself created, and that Bristol is bringing into the world. After all, it is a life, not a choice.