Proving the doubters wrong – couple who started their family when he was 12 and she was 17

Daily Mail | Apr 8, 2007

A boy with his hands full: James, then 13, pictured with twin daughters Leah and Louise and his 17-year-old girlfriend Sarah

When 12-year-old James Sutton got a 16-year-old girl pregnant, the consensus was that their relationship would be lucky to last five minutes.

Yet eight years later, he and Sarah Drinkwater are still together – in a home of their own.

Her first pregnancy resulted in twin girls and they also have a two-year-old daughter.

And while James regrets having achieved the dubious honour of being Britain’s youngest father of twins, he is proud and delighted to have proved the doubters wrong.

Far from existing on benefits, the couple are both determined to better themselves for the sake of their children.

James, now 21, has spent the last five years working full-time for a construction company and his partner is studying hard for a university degree and working as a pharmaceutical researcher.

Between them they are earning a decent living and have bought a £100,000 house in Moston, Manchester, to give their children a secure home. The twins, Leah and Louise, seven, are doing well in school and the arrival of two-year-old Ellie has brought the couple even closer.

It is a long way from the doom and gloom predicted by many when Sarah discovered she was pregnant by her 12-year-old boyfriend.

James said: “We want to build a good future for our children and I want them to enjoy their childhood and learn from the mistakes I made. I adore my children and my life now, but at 13 I was too young to become a dad.

“If I could do it again I’d have waited until I was in my 20s because I missed out on my own childhood.”

He added: “I’d warn any teenager thinking about having sex and kids at 13 to think long and hard about it. It’s hard work.”

Sarah, who is studying for a degree in human biology and health sciences at Salford University, said she too was pleased that their enduring relationship had confounded their critics.

“Nobody thought James and I could ever achieve what we have done,” said the 24-year-old.

“We might have been young when the girls were born but there was no way I was going to scrounge off the government.

“I could easily have put my feet up and lived off benefits in a grotty flat, but I wanted the best for my children. I didn’t want to scrimp and scrape and I wanted to set an example to my girls.”

Their proudest moment was getting the keys to their three-bedroom home and the couple are planning to marry. They rarely go out with friends as most of their wages go towards paying the mortgage, but they feel they have got their priorities right.

Sarah added: “The thing that gives me happiness is knowing my girls are provided for and looked after.”

Unsurprisingly, life has not been plain sailing for the couple, who struggled to adjust to their new lives as parents after moving into a council house together in Gorton.

James had intended to continue his education but eventually left school without taking his GCSEs because of his persistent truancy.

He was also due to lecture other schoolchildren in Manchester about the dangers of underage sex but failed to attend.

The couple say they were both forced to grow up very quickly after the arrival of the twins but believe the hardest days are behind them.

They have not ruled out having another child and Mr Sutton says he would really like a boy.

“We are planning to try for another but for the moment we’re happy with what we have. I love my family so much but I should have waited until I was older.”

Last month the UN said Britain was the worst place in the developed world to be a child and condemned the high teenage pregnancy rate.

Around 9,000 girls under the age of 16 give birth each year in the UK despite a recent £150 million government campaign.

17 responses to “Proving the doubters wrong – couple who started their family when he was 12 and she was 17

  1. I commend this couple for having the intelligence and fortitude to do what is right for there children.

  2. i think this story is amazing. it just proves that no matter how old you are you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. I hope you live a happy life and dont let people stop you!

  3. kinda gross. i am happy for them now, a great story. but he was way to young for her. doesn’t seem like such a big diff. now, but then that was huuuge! im 13, and to imagine me being in that place…ewwwwwwwwwww! but all that matters is that they are happy and doing well…

  4. Hiyah x

    i think this story is amazing! Its really sweet and just shows that no matter how old you are you can handle the responsibility well done!

    Good luck in the future if you have more kids!!


  5. This is really sweet, im so proud of you, i think you have done the right thing, and you are not even on benafits which is really really good. good luck in the future.
    Much lOove

  6. Ok I know that have a baby is a beautiful thing but at 12!! I am 13 now, I do have a boyfriend that is 15… we’ve planned on having a family when we are OLDER! We don’t want underaged sex it is discusting. Sweet story but bad choice!

  7. When you are sexualy mature, and you are ready to mate, the age does not matter! Theist are just some fucked up ignorant mother fuckers who don’t understand how a dick works! This is why religion should be banned and let the people mate when they feel like it! Education is important!

  8. i think it’s amazing that these to stayed together even the fact of the ages diffrence that they were together in the first place i would be thanking my luck stars if a man would stay with me ifi got pregnant at the age, if i wasn’t a lesbian that is

  9. jjj i actully see what ur saying about when people wanna fuck people wanna fuck but it shoudln’t happen at a young age for the fact of the girl gettin pregnant or they guy may go to jail on the ages diffrence now and days

  10. Although I prefer my own grandchildren to wait until they are older than sixteen to look for the their lifetime partner. It was not so unusual just sixty years ago to find couples that young that married and remained married a lifetime. There were states in the US who married couples at 12 years of age. Today the youth are encouraged to complete the university and are advised to wait until they finish and in the meantime many have had about 50 or more sexual encounters or if not in that extremity at least several relationships that would have been considered marriage in the era of the 50’s or 60’s .

    I married at 20, but I had friends who married at sixteen years of age and the young husbands would go to work and supported their babies even if they just worked as a bus boy, delivery boy, or an apprentice to a carpenter–but they were held responsible and grew into maturity.

    In the 60’s universities throughout California had housing for married couples and as a teen I would walk past USC and see the young moms hanging up their clothes.

    In this age of high technology, we have 25 year old students who still behave as adolescents supported by their parents and yet they are considered more normal. Technically speaking puberty is the age that the human race was designed to be able to produce children. It is natural to be attracted to the opposite sex in order to continue the human race. Government and professional intervention has changed our lifestyles and not always for the better.

    We should applaud the young couple for being independent and for being smart enough to support themselves and their children and also for having the strength to ignore the critics who discriminate against them.

  11. how could you mess up your life like that. what was you thinking.Was your mine on sex like that.
    Please respond back to my email please thankyou.

  12. They’ve split up. How surprising.

  13. Its good for them as long as they are happy. their children should live a better life from their parents.

  14. I am pregnant and i’m only 17!!!

  15. uh is that something to be proud about?

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