Kevin Peter of Moterwriter.com caught up with author Karen Chaston and got her to talk a little about her book Teenagers Playing Grown Ups. This is what transpired in the tête-à-tête with the author.
Kevin Peter: Tell us something about yourself and what you do?
Karen Chaston: Like many women living in the 21st century I wear many hats. I am a wife, mother, author, radio host, BraveHeart Women resonator and a former CFO of a publicly listed company. Though, if I had to bring it down to the overall theme, I inspire women to empower themselves.
I do this by assisting women to embrace who they are so they can be fulfilled in all seven areas of their lives – mentally, professionally, financially, socially, family, physically and spiritually.
KP: ‘Teenagers Playing Grown Ups’ – give the short take on it?
KC: This a story of four teenage girls who in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s find themselves pregnant, with all choosing a different option – marriage, abortion, motherhood (single) and adoption.
The story is more than just finding out why they choose as they did it’s more about the wiser woman who is now in her ‘50s going back to her teenage self and saying “At your age your brain is not fully developed so you do not understand reasoning and consequences. I have lived the life of your decision, maybe or maybe not we should re-think your choice.
KP: What prompted you to write this book?
KC: I was the teenager who chose adoption for my unplanned teenage pregnancy. Within two years of my teenage pregnancy I also had a couple of girlfriends who were pregnant with one choosing marriage and the other abortion.
The stories in the book are not the stories of my school friends, though I always felt I would like to write a book on this very important subject.
KP: What were some of the challenges before you when you began work on this book?
KC: The hardest part was writing my story. It took me a long time and it brought up a lot of issues, so that in itself was very therapeutic.
Originally I only had the three characters and then a close friend pointed out that I was missing the single mother. Ironically, even though Kylie is a fictional character, I feel she is real. She is a mixture of many people I have met over the years, though I feel many people will see themselves in her, as they will with all the ladies.
I also loved it when I realised that the four solutions formed the anagram M.A.M.A. seemed very apt.
KP: Since this book primarily talks about teens and unplanned pregnancies. I have to ask you this; in your research did you find any correlation between a child’s birth order in a family and their getting into trouble during teenage years?
KC: I did not consciously note this. Though what I did notice was that the higher the self-esteem, self-worth and self-love a teenager has for themselves, the more likely they are to make informed choices in regards to everything they do and especially their bodies.
The school system should introduce as many classes on these subjects as they do on sex education.
KP: Did you talk to a lot of women as part of the book’s research and would you like to thank some of them here?
KC: Yes I did.
I loved the fact that my sister-in-law Alison Chaston wrote her story, as she chose to get married at 17. Alison also found it hard to write her story, though found it great to finally release any unresolved issues she may have been carrying.
In regards to the many ladies I spoke with, they know who they are and how grateful I am that they choose to share their stories with me.
KP: What advice would you have for the fathers in the equation? What can they do or not do, to help the girl?
KC: The true solution to an unplanned pregnancy is to make the decision before having sex, not when you are pregnant. Be a responsible teen and choose contraception, then if you are faced with an unplanned pregnancy support the girl.
There are so many support systems in place today that at least the solution you choose will be an informative one. Then once decided, move on with your lives either together or separately.
KP: In your research what did you find were the challenges and needs a first time and especially an unwed mother faces?
KC: The fear of the unknown.
Even when you are in a loving marriage and you are carrying your first child there is always a little angst in regards to the birth. Everyone is different and listening to other people’s birth stories is not always a good idea.
Then I would say that most people feel they have your best interest at heart by giving you their advice, though everyone has a different opinion, so this confuses you even more.
My nephew and his wife are expecting their first child and my advice to them was “Don’t listen to anyone except each other. You know what is right for your baby. No-one else lives in your house, so intuitively you are the most informed so you will always find the best solution in any situation. You are only ever given things you can handle.”
KP: Do you have any plans to continue your work in this field and help young pregnant women find acceptance and refuge in our society?
KC: My immediate plan is write a mini-series screenplay for this book, though I will bring the girls back to being school friends.
I also talk at local high schools, to girls aged 15 -17 on the subject of how they can develop higher self-esteem.
I have no other immediate plans, though as always I am open to any possibility that presents itself.
KP: Any words of advice or encouragement you would like to offer to today’s teens?
KC: Educate yourself in regards to sex before you choose to experience it.
You have to love the time we live in, it really is the information age, with everything just a couple of clicks away.
Learn to be your unique self, do not be pressured into anything, develop your self-love, self-worth and self-esteem as from this space you can live a life where all your dreams and desires will be fulfilled.
KP: While everyone is keen on advising the young teenage girl to not get pregnant. You don’t hear such noise asking a young teenage boy to not get a girl pregnant. Your thoughts on this.
KC: It takes two to tango.
So you both should be taking responsibility in regards to contraception.
And please do not have the attitude “It won’t happen to me.” As it probably will!!
KP: What’s next for you?
KC: As I mentioned, the screen play for the book and I am also co-authoring a book with a colleague directed at men of all ages. This will be the male version of my first book “A Journey to Becoming Your Own Best Friend”…. a woman’s guide to getting out of her own way.
I love writing though I also love assisting women to be empowered. I do this through my corporate training programs where I assist emerging women leaders to climb the ladder whilst remaining true to their innate qualities, which in turn create a more conducive, productive and profitable company.
KP: And lastly, thank you for parting with your valuable time Karen Chaston and all the very best for your book.
KC: Thank you Kevin for your time today. It’s been great, and hopefully it won’t be too long before we are discussing my next book!!
Connect with her at – www.karenchaston.com.au