“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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  • Someone put on their judgey pants today! yeesh. the TONE was just like whoa. However, I agree with the sentiment. I’m 23 and couldn’t even imagine being in her position. Her life is clearly very different from that of an average 18 year old so I’m going to go out on a limb and say everything will be just fine for her.

  • Very_Blessed

    Well, I definitely understand your point of view! I had a child at 19 and I handled my responsibilities. When my parents found out I was pregnant my mother cried and my father said you will not be quitting college. LOL. I didn’t. They only watched my son when I was in class or studying. No clubs, no enjoying the young life of a traditional college student. When my best friend called to say she was heading to Florida for Spring Break, I was met with a no we are not watching your baby by my parents. I was so upset. Yes, I made the choice to lay down. I accepted and handled all that came along with it. Now as a grown woman I look back at that time and realize it didn’t bother when I was struggling financially, because I knew that wouldn’t last always (and I could always depend on my family) but more so that I missed out on certain life experiences that I believe play into the development of who you are. In addition, when I met his biological father I was a girl. The woman I am now would have never gave him a fighting chance, but hey that’s another story. I finished grad school at 23 (I’m now 31) and have a promising career, and live what I called a Blessed life. However, I would be a liar if I told you I wish I could have told my younger self not to be so quick to grow up. And yes, I know young couples can make it my parents were married and had me by 19, but they too wanted something different for their children.

    • African Mami

      THIS!! She should listen to you.

    • I had my first child when i was 26 and in an extremely established relationship with his father. We are still together and are childhood sweethearts. I had a great job with benefits and we owned our own home. Even with all of these things I can openly admit as much as I adore both of my sons, parenting is damn hard work and that is with a partner and more maturity than Aubrey. It’s fine to be hopeful but we should also be realistic about the work that motherhood entails and the mishaps which happen along the way. I wouldn’t trade my kids for the world but I know that mothering is not all playgroups and baking cookies and I know the effect that having kids can do to a relationship. The truth is hard to hear, but it is the truth and no one is doing anyone a service by pretending that this is going to be easy for her with or without daddies money.

    • African Mami

      The truth is hard to hear, but it is the truth
      True to who?! You?-Maybe. Her?-Currently her beliefs [which are her truth] are not nsync with your beliefs [your truth]

      – I understand where you are coming from, but you fail to deliver in a way that is not judgmental. No one is asking you to sugarcoat anything! This piece reads like murder she wrote.

    • edub

      AMEN! What a wonderful story! Continued blessing for you!

  • I am the only one who feels like the writer had some personal stock in writing this piece. A younger sister,niece or other family member perhaps?. I cant see anyone being this judgemental to a perfect stranger. There are women juggling career and family everyday. Do we judge them for making money instead of focusing on rearing their children? What about those women who leave a good percentage of raising their children to a nanny? Everyone has their path.

  • Jordan

    I agree that Aubrey has a lot to learn about life. However, this piece is incredibly judgmental and suggests that being a housewife is a bad thing. We forget that in the “old days” it was normal for a young woman to get married, have kids, and not work. Now, I realize that times have changed dramatically, but I’m sure that Aubrey has some sense of what she’s getting into. She says she grew with her mother in the home, so I’m sure she’s following that example. I just wouldn’t want another teen to read this and think that if they have kids and/or a husband at a young age that their life is basically over. That’s just not a fair argument.

    Like a commenter before me stated, going to school doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be living “the good life” either. Let’s not judge Aubrey because her focus is on family instead of working. I mean, she’s the daughter of a very famous actor. Her life hasn’t been normal from the start, so it’s a little crazy to think she’ll conform to “normal” standards of how she wants to live her life!

  • Cocochanel31

    Please at this article! Most of us women work because we have to not necessarily because we WANT TO! If my daddy was rich, and my husband was taking care of me, I would chill and have a few babies too! Why not! She can still travel and do whatever she wants to do unlike MOST of us single women even without kids! At 18 the world is her oyster..she has plenty of time to still travel and “get it in!”