Unmarried, pregnant teacher concerns

Discussion in 'General Education' started by live, Jul 29, 2014.

  1. live

    live Companion

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    In your particular school, how would the staff, admin, parents, etc. react to an unmarried pregnant teacher? I've read some horror stories about the treatment of teachers who were unwed and pregnant, some of which were clearly illegal.

    I ask because I recently found out that I'm pregnant with my first child. While I'm not married, I am in a committed, loving relationship that has been headed that way for the past few years. We plan to marry sooner, but realistically, not by the time school begins. I worry because I'm not sure how my admin (or parents) will react. I'll add that I'm an at-will employee with no union. I don't care if people pass judgment, but I don't want that judgment to effect my career... especially when I have a little one on the way.

    If anyone has any experience with this, or thoughts of how schools may react and how I should handle this, I'd appreciate it. I know it's not legal to fire me, but I'm still so worried about how this might effect my job...:unsure:
     
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  3. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Just a suggestion - refer to your partner as your significant other and let it go at that. Don't explain where there is no legal reason to do so. If really scared, buy a cheap wedding band and let people believe what they want. Don't discuss it, but the band may cut down on the talking. So many women keep their maiden names these days that it shouldn't be an issue. Don't let the hormones make you crazy or paranoid.:D
     
  4. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Congratulations. :)

    Do you teach at a parochial school? If not, I cannot imagine how it could impact your career. If it did, I believe you'd have grounds for a lawsuit.
     
  5. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Why do they need to know anything about your personal life?
     
  6. live

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    Thanks for the suggestions! The hormones are definitely making me a little bit crazy. There's a good chance I'll have at least an engagement ring before the new school year, so maybe people will make their own assumptions based on that...

    Thanks! It's not a parochial school. I made the mistake of reading about teachers who were unfairly treated for "poor performance" while they just so happened to be pregnant. Who knows. The whole having a baby thing is quite possibly just making me paranoid.

    They don't need to know anything, but it's a very small community, so they usually do anyways. And I certainly won't be keeping this from my admin, not that I could even if I wanted to.
     
  7. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I teach in a small, rural community. We had a fairly outspoken liberal teacher who was pregnant and in a committed relationship but not married. I'm sure some people talked but I never heard anything. She didn't seem to have any problems with her students that I knew about anyways.
     
  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Oh, and maybe the most important thing of all - congratulations! What a wonderful surprise.:)
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Being pregnant and unmarried shouldn't impact your job. Unfortunately, "shouldn't" doesn't mean "won't". If you work in a particularly conservative school or live in a particularly conservative town, and if you're concerned that your job security might be threatened, you have three options that I can see:

    1. Keep everything on the down-low and hope that no one notices. This might not be reasonable, especially once you start to show.

    2. Move up your wedding date and get married before school starts. You could do something quick and easy at the courthouse.

    3. Start wearing a wedding ring and give the impression that you are married. AND/OR Lie and say that you are married.

    Obviously one or more of those options might not work for you for whatever reason. I can't think of any better options, though. Maybe others have some ideas?

    If it were me, I would probably just go ahead and bump up the wedding, courthouse-style, then plan to have the big formal event later as planned. I think it's awful that other people and their opinions on my life would cause me to have to change plans like that, but I'm a realist and I recognize that taking a stance on this issue might very well result in me no longer having a job.
     
  10. live

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    That's reassuring. I'm fairly reserved so I know people will gossip amongst themselves more than they will come to me for information. I teach elementary and know the students, so I know it won't be them that give me issues. Their parents... I'm not so sure about.

    Thank you! It really is the most terrifying yet wonderful surprise of my life.
     
  11. live

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    Thank you for those ideas. Right now I'm leaning towards wearing at least an engagement ring and then getting married before I start to show. I'm totally fine with a courthouse wedding, but I'm not sure if my boyfriend would be on board with that.

    And I feel exactly how you said...I hate that I'm worrying about other people accepting my life, but having a job and supporting my baby is more important than taking a stand.
     
  12. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I think this totally depends on location. In my current city, I think 98% of people wouldn't bat an eye, and if they did, other people would be more judgmental of them than you! If you're in a really conservative area it could be different though. My dad teaches in a very conservative area and his district fired a coach who was unmarried and pregnant because she "wasn't a good role model" to the girls. I was literally horrified when I heard about it. My dad is really conservative and saw nothing wrong with it, and apparently that was the predominant opinion at his school. I guess you just have to know where you're teaching!
     
  13. live

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    That's so awful! I haven't been at my school for long, so I guess I'm still learning about where I'm teaching. People, both staff and students' families, travel to get to our school, so our small community has a healthy mixture of backgrounds and beliefs represented. Maybe the response will be just that...mixed. I'll keep my fingers crossed that they lean more towards the way your school would.
     
  14. lilia123

    lilia123 Companion

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    When I had my first child, I was not married. I went through the entire school year pregnant everyone including parents, teachers, and administrators knew I wasn't married. No one ever said anything negative to me or made a big deal of it. As long as you are not at a religious based school it will be fine. Honestly, it's happens so often these days school districts really don't care.
     
  15. chitown

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    Congrats, and I hope you find positive and supportive attitudes from everyone.
     
  16. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Congratulations!

    In the old days, when I first started teaching, we had morals clauses in our contracts and you could get fired for living with someone out of marriage, being pregnant, etc. I doubt they can do anything in a public school anymore, unless you don't have tenure and they don't like your performance.

    I guess I would consider doing a quick courthouse marriage so you have a license, and going ahead with a bigger wedding if you want it later. I know someone who did this recently. She is a part-time teacher and her husband is military and they wanted her to get his benefits.

    In the end, it is your business. Maybe you want to me Ms. instead of Miss?
     
  17. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Jul 30, 2014

    The admin should be the least of your worries.

    You can tell parents and students whatever you wish. Look at it this way. If you, in your own mind and conscience feel as if you are now married, then you are married. The fact that you have not stood through some ceremony and signed papers has nothing to do with the personal commitments you and your partner have made to each other.

    In other words, I don't think it's a lie if a kid asks you if you are married and you answer yes.

    I don't think you need to go as far as wearing a ring - I've never been pregnant, but don't women sometimes have avoid wearing rings due to swelling or something?
     
  18. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Man, am I depressed that you even have to contemplate this in some parts of this country. I can't even imagine what kind of messed up thoughts go through the minds of conservatives who think like they own the rights to how a woman lives her life and feel right to penalize her for not adhering to what their personal morality dictates. I would really love to tell you to just say '**ck 'em' and do what you want to do because it's none of their business if you're in fact getting married or don't even want to marry someone.

    But I understand that you are seriously concerned about your job and you just want to be on the down low. I don't have any other advice to give other than what's already been mentioned. I only just wanted to say that it's extremely ironic that the same people that complain and moan about Sharia law are basically the biggest proponents of it here in the states.

    I will also say that I've experienced that acting ashamed will signal others to think it's a shameful thing and they will pick up on your feelings and take advantage of them. If you carry yourself with confidence in whatever you do, despite what they may throw at you, they'll eventually realize they're the ones that are wrong and generally leave you alone.
     
  19. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Congratulations! You are under no obligations to discuss your marital status with anybody. Eventually, your students will figure out you are pregnant, which you can confirm and then change the subject. I am married, and my students (5th grade), debated if I was married when I was pregnant-- and I wore my rings daily until 35 weeks. My point is, people will speculate, and you can't control that. All you can do is remain polite and professional.
     
  20. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I don't think I would lie about being married, as some have suggested, because when you really do get married your name will change.

    I think I would wear an engagement ring (maybe he'll propose soon, so it doesn't have to be a fake one? :) ). Although, think about how that will affect your life, too. You may forget to take it off when you go to the grocery store, run into someone you know, and then they're telling everyone you're engaged. Or you could just wear it for a little bit, and then say your hands are swollen.

    What grade do you teach? Some of my 2nd graders would think it was strange for an unmarried teacher to have children, but some wouldn't. Last year, before I was married, one of my students asked if I had any kids, and another one said, "Of course she doesn't-she's not even married yet!" So some of them have that mindset. And then you have the families with 4 half-siblings with different moms and dads and last names, and no one was ever married.

    If I were you I would probably refer to my BF as my fiance, and just act like you're engaged. Most students probably wouldn't think twice about it.
     
  21. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    It doesn't have to. And even after you're married, you have the option to change your name later, so name changes (or lack thereof) would be explainable.

    You should probably avoid any "official" lies -- don't lie on documents. But if it's something like referring to your boyfriend casually as your husband in conversation, that's debatable ( and "hubby" is a word without an actual definition :whistle:. It could be a pet name).

    live, you don't mention if there's any basis for this other than seeing stories online. Do you live in an area where you think such judgements are likely? If you have anyone in the school you can trust, you might want to ask their thoughts on the possible reaction.

    You might also bring up your concerns with your BF, or maybe subtly print out some of the stories and leave them around (okay, maybe that's not really "subtle"...) so that he gets that it's an issue.

    Everyone's right that if they fired you over it then you'd have a legal cause of action. However, having a legal cause of action is a bit overrated -- lawsuits are annoying and expensive and invasive and uncertain, and having a public fight with your employer in your past isn't really the best position on applying to other jobs (and if you won, it isn't like you'd get your job back -- courts generally don't like forcing relationships -- you'd get some amount of money, most likely). And there's probably lots they might do short of firing you that would make things difficult.
     
  22. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Congratulations! That's so exciting!

    I live on the East Coast and plenty of women have children and are unmarried here. I personally don't judge and no one at our school seems to. The only way I could see someone having an issue is if:

    A. The mother is REALLY REALLY young, like 13 - 17

    B. The mother has a lot of children and no means of taking care of herself. For example, there was a parent at our school who was 22 years old and had five children, all with different fathers and lived at home with her mom who supported everyone.

    And even then, people can judge as much as they want but that's all it is, judgement/opinions. No matter what you do, people are going to have something to say. If you are unmarried without children, they'll talk about you. If you're married with children they'll have something to say. If you're single with kids, something to say.

    Don't let other people's stupidity and opinions effect your happiness with your significant other and your baby. :hugs:
     
  23. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Wow. It shouldn't matter at all. I would not get married just to appease other people or keep my job. Congratulations.
     
  24. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I had an issue like this a few years ago. My SO was pregnant. I made no secret of the fact that we weren't married and had no particular intention of getting married. I never had any type of repercussions for it.
     
  25. 2ndTimeAround

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    I think it would depend upon your district. Some have morality clauses and would find an issue with it. My district would not.

    Some teachers have been fired simpy because they were tagged in a FB photo holding a red Solo cup. The implication that an adult was drinking alochol (not even a dry county) was enough for her to be let go.

    You could take the high road and say you wouldn't want to work in such a place, but I totally understand your need to provide for your child taking precedence.

    I would personally go ahead and get married. If I had than intent anyhow, I wouldn't see why waiting would be better.
     
  26. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    It sounds like many of you live and work in accepting communities, which is really awesome. :)

    Not everyone works in communities like those, though. Sometimes the choices we make in our personal lives are judged by others in such a way that our professional lives are affected. I want to make it clear that I don't think that this is acceptable in any way, shape, or form. It still happens, though. And if a person is worried that it might happen to them, then they do have to weigh their options, which might very well be keeping a job by making an unpleasant decision or losing a job by holding onto personal morals and values. I wouldn't at all look down on someone who chose to say true to themselves and ended up losing a job. For me, the truth is that I have bills to pay and a family to help support. I could be okay with making small changes to a decision that I am already okay with (getting married, although maybe not on my preferred schedule). That's me, though. I wouldn't expect anyone else to do that. I would like to think that others wouldn't judge me harshly or unfairly for that, but again, I'm a realist, so I know that they totally would.

    Just offering my :2cents:.
     
  27. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Caesar agree....
     
  28. live

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    Thank you for the responses. I initially wasn't even going to post about this due to how personal it is, but I really do appreciate the advice and support offered.

    Some of you really hit the nail on the head when describing why someone in the situation might be cautious. I'd typically stand by my choices and not let others dictate my life, but in this situation, I won't do that if it's at the expense of my baby. It's the sad reality.

    DrivingPigeon: I teach 5th graders. I know many of them and we already have a good relationship, which will go a long way this year. I'm sure they'll naturally be curious, but I won't divulge any more than the obvious. They won't be the ones to pass judgment, but their parents I'm not so sure about.

    3sons: It's really hit or miss. The school is located between a conservative rural town and a non-conservative urban city. We serve a mix of families, which is something I've always enjoyed about my school, but it means the judgment I'll receive will depend mostly on the parents. I do think some of the (very few) wealthier families will be more vocal if they're unhappy with my choice to have a baby while unwed. Some of the fear I'm sure is irrational, but to some degree, I do think there is a reason to protect myself and my family. Thank you for your advice.

    I've brought these concerns up to my boyfriend and we're still talking about the when/where of marriage. Even if we do get married before the baby is born, I think I'd go by my last name until next school year.

    Em_Catz, it's funny you say that because I'm nearing 30 but still look about 16. Last spring I went to the salon, and I was asked if I'm getting ready for prom...I'm sure I'll get some weird looks out in public. Oh well, if it doesn't affect my job, those are the looks I can handle. Thanks for the congratulations!

    Peregrin: That's a really good point about acting ashamed. I did nothing shameful, so I shouldn't act like I did. Thanks for the reminder.

    Really, thank you everyone for the congratulations or words of experience. It's been more reassuring that I can express.
     
  29. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    Congrats!

    I'm in a very similar situation. I'm currently 6 months pregnant with our first child. SO and I moved to this town together 3 years ago and we recently bought a home but we are not married.

    My admin was ecstatic for me when I told them I was pregnant (they know I'm not married) and have been more than accommodating when it came to me needing time off for appointments or if I just needed a minute to deal with morning sickness. I have no concerns about them giving me a hard time about it.

    As far as the kids (I teach middle school) and their parents are concerned, they don't really know my marital status. I rarely talk about SO at school, but he's also a teacher, so kids know him though that. And, we live in a small town so they see us out in public together all the time. When I do reference him in conversation, I call him Ben and keep on going. Parents are usually too polite to ask and I redirect kids when they ask, telling them that the question is a personal one. They can think what they please.

    I'm sorry you've had to worry about this.

    ETA - personally, I would not get married just because I were pregnant, nor would I move a wedding up. SO and I assume we'll get married someday, but that someday is nowhere in the near future. Having been divorced, it just doesn't seem like a good enough reason for me. I do understand, though, that your situation may be different than mine.
     
  30. live

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    Thank you, Shanoo. That's very reassuring. I truly hope the parents here are as polite as yours, and my admin is also as supportive.

    Congratulations to you, too!
     
  31. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Just know that your students and their parents won't know the boyfriend is not your husband unless you share that information! I seriously doubt that they will go to great lengths for background checks on your marital status. If you are listed in the phone book, just add both names. If you have young students, refer to the boyfriend as the baby's father, sidestepping the issue completely. After the fact, should there be a problem, which I doubt, would be too late. If I really thought there might be a problem I would wear a ring, and refer to SO as hubby. Period. Keep all other information to yourself.
     
  32. CFClassroom

    CFClassroom Connoisseur

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    First of all congrats! Being pregnant and having your first child is a very special time. Try to enjoy every minute without worrying about how it will be perceived. My understanding is that many Catholic schools have language in the contract that would impact your employment in this situation, but it should be a non-issue from a legal standpoint in a public school. With that being said, a few ideas would be to refer to your significant other by name only and not by title (i.e. Bob and I instead of "my boyfriend"). Just perform your job professionally and your personal life need not be public unless you choose it to be.
     
  33. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    I'm in Mississippi, the Bible belt. I've worked with 2 teachers that had babies and were not married. Noone that I know said anything other then congratulations. One of the teachers had her 2nd baby with the same partner before they married. Congrats on the new baby!
     
  34. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Congrats on the baby! In my former district, sadly this was an issue. One teacher was simply not renewed (Texas=non union! at-will, so...). The other teacher wore a fake wedding band, but was completely evasive about the topic to coworkers, kids and parents. When anyone asked, she said she just wanted to keep her private life private. People have to (albeit begrudgingly) accept that reason! So she never really lied. She let them assume, and she never corrected any of those assumptions.
     
  35. SF_Giants66

    SF_Giants66 Cohort

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    People judging having a baby while not being married? I think this is a forum archive from the 1970s. Although, I'm wondering why this doesn't make sense, because we didn't have the internet back then.
     

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