Abstinence, Family, and Values - Lessons from Bristol Palin
As soon as Bristol Palin's interview with Greta Van Susteren aired last week on FOXNews, cable news channels and blogs began burning up with the juicy revelation that Sarah Palin's teenage daughter believes that abstinence is "not realistic at all." CNN.com even had a red flag ticker that read: "Watch Bristol Palin say abstinence is 'not realistic at all.'"
I found Bristol to be a refreshingly honest, albeit unsophisticated, young woman who is (no surprise) both overwhelmed and overjoyed by the birth of her child. Through timid, valley-girl vernacular and nervous laughter, we learned about her struggle to deal with night-feedings, high school, and the sudden change of plans and focus that the birth of a child entails. She convincingly told the audience that being a teen mom is not glamorous, and yet it was easy to see that she is in love with her baby.
After watching her interview, including a surprise visit from her mom, I came away with an admiration for how this very real, imperfect, and loving family is handling this difficult situation. The Palins "circled the wagons" (Sarah's words) and are fully supporting their daughter, who made a courageous and thoroughly selfless decision to bring her child into this world. Grandma Palin admits, "it's not the most ideal situation, but certainly you make the most of it."
No, it won't be easy, and Bristol clearly knows she is not prepared to handle it alone. "This is a role for families to pitch in and help," says Sarah Palin. When Bristol tells Greta that she wishes she had waited another ten years, it was heartbreaking to hear the tinge of regret in her voice. "I wished it would have happened in, like, 10 years so I could have a job and an education and be, like, prepared and have my own house and stuff."
Critics like Salon.com's Rebecca Traister will always find fault with the Palins, but when faced with life's challenges -- an unplanned pregnancy, or in Sarah's case, news that she was carrying a Down Syndrome child (90% of which end in abortion) -- this is a family that lives their values. It was Mother Theresa who said: "It is a great poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." By that measuring stick, the Palins indeed are rich.
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