Sarah Sands: The teenage parents might have the last laugh

Share
Related Topics

It is not certain that Alfie Patten, aged 13 and looking about seven, will be a disastrous father to his daughter Maisie Roxanne. So far he has been good-natured towards the baby and keen to support her with his occasional £10 pocket money. His father, along with newspaper commentators, has expressed sentimental regrets about Alfie's loss of childhood. "He loves computer games and Manchester United," said Mr Patten. This does not actually set Alfie apart from the adult male population, who manage to squeeze in fatherhood around these twin passions.

A feature of early adolescent boys is that they are comically varied in physique. Some are almost six feet tall and hairy. Alfie is four feet and, according to some reports, his voice has not yet broken. I hastily checked the facts on the biology of male puberty.

What this dazed-looking father needs is some direction and guidance. His girlfriend, Chantelle, 15, has the authority and energy of a young Wife of Bath. She looks as if she could knock him out if he ever tries to play the stroppy teenager card. Chantelle may fit the pattern of the fertile, feckless underclass, but her aspirations are noble and poignant. She faces up to her behaviour in The Sun: "We know we made a mistake..." and takes the consequences. "We will be good, loving parents." She says that she has embarked on a "church course" and is looking for "work experience helping other young mums".

The odds are so stacked against the couple that you desperately want them to pull through. What a triumph if they ended up as smug, second-life, empty-nesters just as their worn-out, middle-class critics were dragging themselves off to antenatal classes.

Before we all start wailing about irresponsible teenage pregnancies and guest fathers, we might inspect the state of grown-up parental relationships. At least Alfie and Chantelle have the mitigation of youthful naivety when the relationship breaks up. What is Ronnie Wood's excuse?

When I showed the photograph of Alfie, Chantelle and Maisie to my veteran 16-year-old son, he accorded the boy some respect. "Imagine: you can't get a drink but you can say that you have to get home for the babysitter." he said. While the old rockers evade their responsibilities it may take the chrysalis generation to embrace them.

Of course I am being deliberately jaunty about this set-up. It takes more than a certain sweetness and hope to be a good parent. One needs patience and equilibrium and determination to provide. None of these qualities is noticeable among teenagers.

Yet Alfie and Chantelle are not Hansel and Gretel alone in the adult forest, fending for themselves. They went ahead with the birth of their baby as surrogates for a suffocatingly omnipresent parent: the state.

Within hours of the birth the judiciary waived its right to prosecution and bustling social services were promising support. Meanwhile, Alfie moved in with his in-laws, Chantelle's father, who is unemployed, and with her five brothers. The finances of bringing up a baby are irrelevant to the young couple. And since taxpayers are already supporting several banks, a little nipper isn't going to make any difference to the bill.

Unfortunately, Alfie and Chantelle have been immediately championed by the talking-dirty brigade, which sees sex education as the answer to everything. Alfie may look clueless but he worked out, first time, how everything functions. What was lacking for him and for Chantelle was not sex education but simply education.

Sarah Sands is editor in chief of British 'Reader's Digest'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I don't blame parents who move to get their child into a good school

Chris Blackhurst
William Hague, addresses delegates at the Conservative party conference for the last time in his political career in Birmingham  

It’s only natural for politicians like William Hague to end up as journalists

Simon Kelner
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent