Teen Mothers: How to Approach Judgement

Let’s face it, statistics are against teenage mothers. We can’t deny this fact. Below are some statistics that we have to face. Keep in mind that these statistics are for mothers under 20. That means that if you had a child at 18 or 19, you are still considered a teen mom.

Most teenage mothers are unmarried: “In 2011, of the 333,771 births to females under age 20, 89% (295,718 births) were to unmarried teenagers. With fewer teens entering into marriage, the proportion of births to unmarried teens has increased dramatically (89% in 2011 versus 29% in 1970).”

“In 2011, 8.4% of all U.S. births were to teens, and 18.4% of all nonmarital births were to teens.” [Source]

Most teenage pregnancies are unplanned: “Eighty-two percent of teen pregnancies are unplanned; teens account for about one-fifth of all unintended pregnancies annually.” [Source]

Teen fathers are often absent: “80% of teen fathers do not marry the mothers of their first children.” [Source]

“The father abandons the pregnant girl 90 percent of the time and pays, on average, less than $800 annually in child support” [Source]

Teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of high school: “Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school drop out rates among girls. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age, versus approximately 90% of women who had not given birth during adolescence.” [Source]

“Fewer than four in ten (38%) mothers who have a child before they turn 18 have a high school diploma.” [Source]

Their children face a tough future: “The children of teenage mothers are more likely to have lower school achievement and drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as a teenager, and face unemployment as a young adult.” [Source]

“Children of teen mothers are more likely than mothers who gave birth at age 20-21 to drop out of high school. In fact, only about two-thirds of children born to teen mothers earned a high school diploma compared to 81 percent of children of later childbearers.” [Source]

Teenage mothers are less likely to get a college degree: “Other data find that less than two percent of young teen mothers (those who have a baby before age 18) attain a college degree by age 30.” [Source]

Now we all know that these statistics do not always prove true. In fact almost all of these are untrue for myself, and the rest have yet to be seen. For others of us, all or most of these may be true. We will always face people who judge and attack us because we had children while still in our teenage years. What makes the difference is how you approach these people and how you live your life.

1. Correct your spelling and grammar.

I browse pages both supporting teenage mothers and bashing them. I see a very alarming trend. What do you expect people to think when you type a post like this,

“u all need 2 stop saing bad stuf bout me im a grate mum y u all b hatin???”

Sorry for the exaggeration, but I have seen posts like this from young mothers. Yes, we all make typing, spelling and grammar mistakes sometimes. But the above lack of spelling and grammar is uncalled for. If you want to be respected you have to be able to be understood. Don’t use chatspeak online. It is not necessary. It’s great if you need to write a long text message, but not for online discussions.

2. Don’t swear or insult others.

It’s immature and offensive. Just don’t do it. You don’t see Harvard professors swearing (at least I never have). If you can’t handle opposition without swearing or insulting others then you still need time to grow up.

3. Set goals for yourself and work towards them.

It doesn’t matter if it is something as simple as passing a required high school class, or something as difficult as getting a Doctorate degree. Set goals that will improve the life of your children and yourself. Don’t let the statistics discourage you. Don’t just say ‘I would like to do this’ or ‘I want to do this.’ Tell yourself, ‘I will do this.’

4. Unless it applies to you ignore it.

Yes there will be times during direct confrontation that you will need to defend yourself. But in all other areas, if it does not apply to you then ignore it. People like to upset others, especially on social networking sites. It is better to not fall into this trap because it will benefit no one.

5. Finish high school.

If you can, finish high school Do everything in your power to at least get your GED. Why? Because in today’s world you need at least a high school diploma to get a basic, minimum wage job. Yes in high school you may have gotten hired, but they still asked if you were in high school. How do you think it looks on a job application when you have to write, ‘did not complete highschool’ or ‘Last Grade Completed: 10th.’ Then looking at your birthdate they see that you are 23. Finishing high school can improve your job prospects, finishing college (if you are so inclined) can improve them even more.

6. If you can manage it work and avoid welfare.

I say this for many reasons. For one, the welfare system is a trap. It is very difficult to escape it once you are in it. Secondly, if you have the chance you should be working to provide for your family. I know that in some cases this is not possible and that is understandable. But if you are out of school, living with your parents, not working and are not disabled then people do have a legitimate reason to pass judgement. I know there are times where you may need to go on welfare temporarily. We are going through one of those times right now. But do you best to accept only what you really need and it will be so much easier to escape it. Of course always do what is best for your children in this area.

7. Limit your love relationships.

If your child’s father is not in the picture, you may want to try to find another person to love and rely on. While I believe it is very very important for a child to have a father figure, I do not think women should be jumping from relationship to relationship. Take relationships slowly. Be honest with the other person. If you are jumping from guy to guy it creates an unhealthy atmosphere for yourself and your child. Furthermore, it is better to stop dating altogether at times. Dating in our society puts a lot of focus on the sex. I highly encourage abstaining from sex. Even from a nonreligious perspective, it prevents all pregnancies, it reduces some of the emotional stress, and is overall beneficial.

Jumping from relationship to relationship also creates an unhealthy cycle of rebound relationships and codependency. It is better to keep your standards high and aim for long term relationships that are focused on finding a husband and father for your children.

8. Instill in your children strong values and high goals.

Set good rules for your children. Don’t let society push them into thinking that sex in high school is the thing to do. Don’t let them think that they must have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Make sure they know the value of education and get the help they need. This is all general good parenting practice, but we can get so discouraged that we forget to do these.

9. Kick the habits.

If you have an addiction, get help. Smoking, alcohol, drug use etc… Not only are these bad for you, they also take a lot of money away from your future and your children. These substances may help you relax but they are an unhealthy escape. Also when people see you addicted to these substances they are going to make assumptions about your parenting abilities.

10. Be mindful of your online presence.

Be aware of how others will interpret the photos, statuses and other items you post online. Be respectful and courteous. Don’t post immodest photos. If you want to be treated like an adult act the part. Also keep in mind that people can and will take your photos and use them for their own purposes. Don’t post anything that you would not want to be seen by your kids 25 years from now.

Anything else you would add? Post it in the comments!

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