“Baby Wipes” Terrence Howard proudly walked his 18-year-old daughter Aubrey Howard down the aisle.  Shortly afterwards, Aubrey revealed to the world that she is expecting her first child via twitter. Call me a cynic, but this is not a good start to a young life.  Motherhood and marriage in one year is a lot for a mature woman, let alone a girl who isn’t even out of her teens yet, because both require work and endless patience.  Aubrey has not necessarily set herself up for failure, but she most certainly has chosen a difficult path, which could indeed end in serious consequences and a lot of pain.

Aubrey is attending college at Howard University, but according to The YBF, she is not particularly keen on people advising her to work.

“I can’t stand when people tell me or my husband I should be working. If we decide that I’m going to stay home and raise our children then that shouldn’t be up for discussion. I grew up with my mom in the house always there for us and I wouldn’t have it any other way for my children,” Aubrey explained on Twitter.

What Aubrey needs to understand is that people are attempting to advise her because she has already shown a stunning lack of good judgment.  If she chose to get pregnant at eighteen, clearly she has no idea the responsibility she has set herself up for. The moment you become a mother, your main job is to sacrifice and support your children in whatever fashion they need. This will constantly conflict with her personal wants and needs. While her contemporaries are traveling, partying, learning, and generally exploring the world, Aubrey is going to be surrounded by dirty diapers, pacifiers, and baby food. This lack of freedom could potentially lead to feelings of resentment, no matter how much she loves her child.  Young mothers are absolutely capable of being good parents, but they have to negotiate extra challenges that more mature and established women do not face.  This is really important to note because motherhood is, without a doubt, the hardest job a woman will ever have in her life.

If this child was — shall we call it, a happy surprise — Aubrey has shown that she cannot even use birth control properly.  The chances of getting pregnant using the pill or condoms and foam together are exceedingly small. Just because you get pregnant, you don’t need to tie yourself to a man and such marriages often end in divorce.  When she is thirty, the girl that she is today will be almost unrecognizable to her.  This is why making life decisions so young is a problem.  Getting married because you got pregnant is compounding a problem, not solving it.

Aubrey is right that it is her decision to be a stay home mom, but such a decision would be a mistake.  Before you lose your mind and lecture me about how women should have a choice, keep in mind that Aubrey has not finished college yet.  Unless she plans to live the rest of her life on daddy’s money or dependent upon her spouse, not having a college degree will greatly impact her future earning potential, should she desire or have a need for gainful employment. Yes, staying home to cook, clean, and raise your kids is a legitimate choice, but it also comes with many consequences.

Relationships like these are extremely cemented in gender roles and for women; this means there is never a separation between work and leisure. It means being expected to work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week because as the old adage says, “housework is never done.” It also introduces an uneven power dynamic into the relationship.  Despite the fact that the public sphere is very much subsidized and maintained by the private sphere, work in the home is not counted and it most certainly is not valued.  The work done in the home is extremely important; however, the one who actually earns the money, inevitably feels like they have the right to determine how the money is spent.  It puts the woman into the position of having to ask for money.  It further puts the family into a precarious position, especially in this economy when long periods of unemployment are becoming commonplace.  Even assuming that she has a good partner who respects the work done in the home, what happens if he should die unexpectedly and the job of supporting the family suddenly falls on Aubrey?  A car accident, a careless moment, or an act of God could irrevocably change one’s life.  What will Aubrey do then?

There is also the issue of what happens in an abusive marriage.  Without money to escape, the ability to leave is greatly hampered.  It’s no accident that abusers constantly restrict a woman’s access to not only people but also money.  I am not suggesting that Aubrey’s husband is abusive but pointing out that in this situation — her options would be limited — if she needed to leave.  Many women continue to stay in abusive relationships because they lack the economic capitol to leave and realize that, upon leaving, they lack the ability to support their family.

Aubrey is right, choosing to stay home and parent is a valid choice but that does not mean that it’s always a good choice, particularly in this case.  In women’s circles, there is much conversation about the importance of having the ability to choose, without any acknowledgement that being a woman does not suddenly make one infallible.  People are going to make mistakes and some of them will have long ranging consequences.  The importance of an informed decision is also visibly erased.  If Aubrey chooses to stay home and raise her baby, I support that choice, but I hope that she has thought through all of the consequences of this decision.  Life very rarely follows a neat path to the house, 2.5 kids, and white picket fence; it’s more often a winding journey with moments of joy and plenty of strife.

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  • LD

    Renee Martin, are you a mother? A young mother? A mother who struggled? You said something about not using birth control properly…well miss…I am someone who was not supposed to even have kids, but having my second baby. She’s a married 18 year old daughter of a millionaire, who has a good husband who is providing. Seriously, its none of your business. If she wants to finish school and raise her kids, she has the financial cushion to do so, LET HER.

    You sound bitter and hateful, I hope you check your feminism at the door.

    • Lucy Lucy

      This has nothing to do with feminism. I’m a feminist and I believe women should do whatever they want to do and if it includes wanting to be a housewife, than so be it!

    • I am not a feminist and where did I say she shouldn’t do what she wants. I just think that we should be talking about the realities of the decision. Whether you work or a SAHM there are consequences to both decisions.

    • let her? LMAO how is renee stopping her? and how will renee allow her to do what she wants?

  • JN

    I agree with the comments about the whole judgement thing. But from a personal perspective, I worry about this very issue. How do I show my future daughter by example that she can in fact have both a career and family? It seems like audrey learned by example that the way to raise a decent family is for the woman to sacrifice more than the man. For some reason I can’t give birth to a daughter, look her in the eye and tell her that is what she needs to do if she wants to have a family. I can’t raise my daughter to be ONLY a mom.

    • Lucy Lucy

      What if that’s what Aubrey wants? To be a mother? Who is to say she’s sacrificing anything? Maybe this is what she wants.

    • African Mami

      “IF we decide that I’m going to stay home and raise our children then that shouldn’t be up for discussion.”

      Folks seem to be missing that big IF. To mean that, her choices are not set in stone. She is quite open it seems to exploring other options.

      “How do I show my future daughter by example that she can in fact have both a career and family? ”

      You teach your daughter to have her own mind! That’s what you do. Empower her.

      “It seems like audrey learned by example that the way to raise a decent family is[ for the woman to sacrifice more than the man.]”
      I beg to differ. I agree with Lucy Lucy.

    • JN

      If that is what Aubrey wants, she can have it. Never said she should not have it. I just said that my daughter ought to see by my example hopefully as well as by what I tell her, that she has choices. But I still consider it a choice to sacrifice to be a stay-at-home mom or dad. You choose not to make your own separate income. It is a concious decision as well as a sacrifice. Might not feel like it because it is for something you enjoy but it is. (*side note: how YOU DOING, African Mami! ain’t but seen you for a bit, my fault for being so M.I.A.)

  • African Mami

    Get off your high horse! If this article was supposed to constructively criticize, it did not meet that objective. If anything the venomous/vitriolic tone was off putting and reeked of judgement. Sure, nobody in this day and age, I would suppose would want their 18 year old pregnant, much less married. However, for you to berate this young girl in such a manner, as if her choices have a stronghold in your life is despicable. This may be a gunshot wedding, but it could very well be a very blessed marriage in the works.

    “What Aubrey needs to understand is that people are attempting to advise her because she has already shown a stunning lack of good judgment.”

    I applaud her for telling ya’ll to go to hell kindly, if this the kind of “advice” ya’ll are attempting to give her! From the look of things, she has a strong, supportive network of family that consists of her parents. I would rather she listened to them than a bunch of strangers cloaking judgmental vitriol in the name of advice!

    “Just because you get pregnant, you don’t need to tie yourself to a man and such marriages often end in divorce”
    BULL FECAL MATTERS! Urrrgh, I’m clearly AGGRAVATED! Who exactly are you?! Jesus! I have seen marriages such as this flourish!! This is such an apocalyptic statement!

    “Relationships like these are extremely cemented in gender roles and for women; this means there is never a separation between work and leisure.”

    And so?! That is a feminist ideology which not every woman shares! Clearly, she is part of that group that doesn’t share in your sentiments.

    This article has really grated my nerve endings! Shit. It’s been a minute since this happened.

    Best of luck to this young lady….and I pray that the Lord gifts her with the Spirit of discernment, so as to know when to take advice, and tell these unsolicited advisers, to shove it.

    • Yes. To all of this.

    • cupcakes and shiraz


    • Val

      I agree, AM. This post was more like a rant than anything else. Yikes, give the girl a break. She’s married, in college and having a baby. She could be doing a whole lot worse. Congratulations to her and her hubby.

    • binks

      AMEN! Jeez…exiting this thread slowly as I post… honestly I don’t know her situation to be commenting on it and neither does the author or anybody else that isn’t close to the family or her so all judgments of what she needs to do, should do, how to think, live etc. should be reserved. This is a situation of frankly IT’S NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS! I agree with some of the points raised but it didn’t come across well but condescending and frankly woman bashing…let this young woman live, learn and make mistakes and learned from them. Her decisions isn’t set in stone she can always change her mind but if she still chooses to be a devoted wife/mother guess what THAT IS OKAY TOO! Shocking, I know! I swear sometimes we as women take one step forward for sisterhood and 5 steps back in sisterhood, I swear if you are the independent woman I have my own type it is a problem and if you are the I want to be a devoted wife and mother type it is still a problem, you can’t win for losing.

    • African Mami

      @ binks,

      They ain’t trying to hear you on the sisterhood part! Truth be damned. On another note, there have been a lot of articles on here, suggestive of homemaking being nothing short of a woman maximizing her potential. Just tired!

  • In this instance, I can relate to Aubrey; last week this man, whom I’d never met before, gave me all this unsolicited advice about my life…

  • I have a serious issue with this entire piece. I understand what you’re saying and completely agree that it needed to be said but there is such judgment that I had to stop reading several times to keep from getting overly upset. Yes Aubrey is young and yes she’s has a lot to learn (like any young woman at that age), but you basically attacked her for choosing a more “traditional” route when it comes to gender roles and motherhood. Who are you to make that call? Yes the more common thing for the modern woman now is to put off family for her career but that’s not all women. I have a good friend in her young 20s right now that is a stay-at-home mom and she’s happy with that. And what the critiques on birth control. More than likely perhaps this baby isn’t a surprise but if she has a husband and father willing to stand with her, why are you tearing her down? Being concerned is one thing but judging is another and that I cannot stand for. Is there only one perfect way to womanhood? The feminist and womanist movements exists so women can make these decisions free of judgement and what have you done? The exact opposite. I was not please with this article at all and I’d hope you reconsider before doing another of this nature.