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Being a Teen Mom is No Joke: The Struggle is Real

By Crystal Hamilton

Disclosure: While all thoughts and opinions on this blog are my own, this post does contain affiliate links and any sales made through such links will earn me a small commission – at no extra cost for you. Keep in mind, the majority of links that I share are products that I have personally used myself. I’m simply sharing them in hopes that they benefit you on your journey as they have for me.  Thanks for supporting the brands that make my blog possible!

Right now, you’re probably scared out of your mind. I know I was because I too was a teen mom. There are a lot of people who want me to feel shame when I write that sentence, but I don’t. My mind was inundated with the same feelings of shame, guilt, and fear of the unknown that you’re experiencing right at this moment.

The Negative Stigma of Teen Pregnancy

As soon as the bomb is dropped and everyone now knows your little secret, people will immediately begin to prejudge you, condemn you, and place you in that stereotypical box that all teen moms are promiscuous, irresponsible, disappointments with no real future. Just typing those words stings a bit, but it’s truth.

This dreadful generalized label will corrupt people’s opinions of you. Even though teen pregnancy isn’t something to wish for, the attitude towards teen moms is toxic and, frankly, inexcusable, and it’s the people who call themselves religious who are the worst. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not all of them, but there’s a significant amount of overly religious individuals whom I refer to as “church folk” who are absolutely perfect, have no flaws, and do everything in their power to make it their mission to expose everybody else’s sins to the world to make themselves feel better about their lives. I know yall know them too. Don’t act like I’m the only one.

As if wearing this Scarlett Letter isn’t enough, support for your dreams will diminish as well as the respect that other’s once had for you will disappear. In reality, teen moms are just normal women who go through the ordinary challenges of motherhood – only with the difficulty turned up a few notches*. If people thought about it for more than a few seconds they’d realize this. But one thing I’ve learned in my journey of growth is that people who judge you arbitrarily are just trying to hide their own failings. Logic doesn’t come into it.

The stigma used to get to me too, but the many gifts that motherhood has brought me include a thick skin, relentless positivity about my family, and a journey of purpose and fulfilment. It was and is my pursuit of these incredibly significant things that give me the courage to dismiss all negativity from my life- which includes the people who prefer to bring me down instead of uplift, empower, and encourage me.

Now, I know these first few paragraphs sounds pretty harsh, but stay with me. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

How to Overcome Teen Mom Challenges

Although my children are the shining lights of my life, I’m not going to lie to you about motherhood. It’s hard sometimes. When you start off as a kid yourself, it’s even harder.

But I’ve found ways to make life easier and more joyful; and I hope you can benefit from my experiences.

Change Your Mindset

Easier said than done, I know. Teen motherhood often starts with so many negative attitudes from so many directions that it’s hard not to be negative yourself.

But this is where you are; this is your life, and it’s your chance to own it.

Enhance your spirituality. Work vigorously on personal growth and development. Find a book on fortitude. Learn to meditate. Try to revolve your memories of each day around the joyful moments, not the lousy ones.

Cultivate your own Superhero Alter Ego by joining me on my journey to transforming into my best self- achieving self-actualization. You’re so welcome here.

Ask for Help

Swallow that pride! It’s no good to you now. Your focus is on building a happy, stable life – and that means learning to ask for help when you need it.

Some teen moms are fortunate enough to have a partner, family or friends that will help no matter what.

If this isn’t the case, ask for help from your church, local non-profit organizations, your doctor or even local government (there are often ways to get a bit of government-funded help if you ask the right people).

Remember that you are worthy of help, and it doesn’t make you a bad mom if you need a hand.

Complete Your Education

Whatever that means for you.

It could be getting your high-school diploma. It could be going to college. You might want to take the vocational path and learn on the job.

You can also teach yourself a lot at home; if you don’t have the support for formal education, pick a subject and take advantage of the wondrous world of the internet (and libraries!) to become a self-taught expert. I may possess a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, but I am a true advocate for self-education. Before, during, and after my formal education, I am always self-educating by way of audiobooks, online courses, distant mentors, Google, and the University of YouTube.

I am a self- taught graphic designer and web designer- all through taking my natural creative talents and improving upon them by watching tutorials online. The advancements of technology have made it so easy for all of us to learn just about anything we want, wherever we want, whenever we want. Don’t fall into the mental trap that formal education is the only way. Take my approach, make yourself learn a new thing every single day. After 365 days of learning something new, especially if it’s on the same topic, you will be amazed at how much more knowledge you will have gained and can monetize. After all, education isn’t just about career-building; it’s a mighty step towards self-confidence. Keep that brain active.

Get a Job

Duh, right? Please don’t read that in the judger. I’m well aware that finding and keeping employment can be hella tough for a teen mom.

When you get the opportunity, though, paid employment is a huge boost to self-esteem.

It also gets you out of the house and into adult company, which is great for self-development… and sanity.

Now of course, I do realize that each story is different, so this step really depends on your age and home circumstances.

Get a Mentor

By definition, if you’re a teen mom then you are a young woman.

Although teens have varying levels of life experience, there isn’t one young woman on the planet who couldn’t benefit from the wisdom of someone who’s been through it all and more.

A mentor can help you by giving advice, sharing their tried-and-tested methods for success, and bolstering your confidence by being a kind of mental safety net.

Finding a mentor can be like finding a muse; it’s a bit of a nebulous concept. Women I’ve spoken to have found mentors in so many places: from the obvious (college, their church, their family) to the seemingly random (their hairdresser, someone in their book club).

You can even find, what I call, distant mentors online. Follow people online that inspire you. They don’t always have to be celebrities- which are most people’s go to’s. They can be regular everyday people who speak to your journey personally. Facebook groups, Twitter or niche forums often spark friendships too. Cyber-mentorship can be a beautiful relationship; support and wisdom, however you receive it, will boost your confidence and help you overcome your own self-limiting beliefs.

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Set Professional Goals

Even if they’re not realistic right now, set them anyway. Look to the future and decide where you want to be. Write it down. Seriously! Use this form to do it. See if you can come up with actionable steps to get there. Try this goal setting planner that I created specifically to help teen moms practice living with intention.

This helps foster a positive mindset and reduce uncertainty. Your choices will have more obvious answers; which ones will get you closer to your goals?

Denounce Bad Habits

Now’s an excellent time to start becoming the woman your kids will look up to.

A solid step towards this lofty goal is giving up the habits you know are harmful in some way. This might be something obvious, like smoking, binge drinking, or drug abuse; or it might be something a little more indirect, like not taking your future seriously or making bad relationship choices.

Whatever your bad habit, there will be well-trodden paths for giving it up.

Take Control of Your Finances

An alarming amount of teen moms view finances as something that just happens to them. They don’t have time to think about savings and taxes, they’ve got a baby to look after!

Honestly, often times your relationship with money is overwhelmingly influenced by your family’s history with finances- whether good or bad. Think about it. How do your parents manage their money? Do you see patterns in the way that you spend money and their behaviors? There is probably a connection there.

Well, even so, you need to learn some basic money management. Go into it with a positive mindset for sustainable results. Search in your community for a class on personal financial literacy. Remember if you can’t find a physical place to attend, there is always the world wide web. Look online for financial literacy courses.

You are not depriving yourself of a splurge, you are building a gorgeous future for your family. This form is boring, sure, but you’re learning ‘how to adult’… and you’ll pass it on to your kids so they don’t end up perpetuating cycles of poverty which are often associated with teen pregnancies.

Let’s look over some facts for a quick second.

Teen Pregnancy in America

The CDC says that, in 2017, nearly 195,000 babieswere born to women aged 15-19 years.

This is a record low for the US; a drop-off that’s apparently due to more kids practicing abstinence, and a better awareness of birth control.

That said, it’s still high compared to a lot of countries – and birth rates in this age range are higher for women of color than for white teens.

With that being said, being a teen mom is hard work. I don’t care if you’re Caucasian, Latino, African American- whatever. It’s hard! Period.

How to Support a Teenage Mother

So for everyone out here in the world who knows a teenage mother (or soon-to-be-mom), and they’re hundreds of thousands of them, here’s what we need from you..

Practice Grace, Empathy, and Love

Try to keep your words and actions full of love. Even if things are hard, you are here because you love this young woman; remind yourself and her of that each day.

Another part of grace is forgiveness. It’s likely that mistakes have been made to get here; and even more likely that mistakes are still to come. Forgive her for being human.

Love her through it all. This will prove to be a difficult stage to navigate in her life. She needs love. I can’t say it enough. Too often (even in my own experience), family and others will ridicule you the entire pregnancy then show up when the baby is born as if they have recently had some monumental epiphany that you need support. Show them love when first discover their pregnancies, during their pregnancy, and after their pregnancy- not just when the baby is born.

Encourage Them in Their Goals

Being positive about someone’s personal or career goals is a surefire way to make them feel good; and to start building their long-term confidence. Offer support, advice and plenty of “you can do it”s.

Become Her Mentor; or Help Her Find One

As I talked about above, having a mentor can be a real godsend to a teen mom. If you can be a solid source of guidance, consider stepping into that role. If you feel that you’re not suitable, help her find someone who can offer personal and professional growth in knowledge and opportunity.

Provide Resources

This is dependent on circumstance, of course, but try to offer practical help as well as mental support.

A little can go a long way; can you bulk cook some extra dinner and make up freezer meals for her? Can you pick up some groceries on the way over? Help fix her car? Babysit so she can go to school, attend a seminar, or spend an hour with her friends so she can feel a bit more human?

How Not to Support a Teenage Mother

Though the positive advice is tremendously vital to a teen mom , there are a couple of big no-no’s that I simply can’t ignore that are just as important.

Condescending Remarks

If you are reading this and you are either a current teen mom, soon-to-be teen mom, or were a teen mom, let me know if this resonates with you.

“He’s not going to stay with you”, “You don’t know how to take care of yourself, let alone a child.” ‘You’re not going to be able to hang with friends or party anymore.” Or “Your future is ruined”. A show of hands, please. Did this help, encourage, or empower you one bit?- No, I ‘didn’t think so.

If you are in the life of a teen mom, never say these things to her unless your goal is to destroy her self-esteem, make her feel inferior,  intensify her insecurities, and evoke hopelessness. And if that’s your end game then you undoubtedly have far greater issues then she will ever have.

Shame or Humiliation

Has anything positive ever come from humiliating anyone? It is every bit of obnoxious and often reveals more about yourself than the person you are trying to shame.

She knows the consequences of her past actions; she is publicly living them now.

Any further slip-ups can be dealt with gracefully, not by tearing down her self-esteem. Someone with no confidence is more likely to make mistakes, not less likely. It’s bad enough she has to deal with the rest of society’s relentless attacks and unfounded labels. Be better than everyone else. Strengthen her. Don’t let your words and actions become the trigger that sends her into a downward spiral toward depression.

Myths about Teen Dads

If I had a dime for every time someone told me, “He’s going to leave you as soon as that baby gets here”. Oh My God! I believe just as many stereotypes exist about teen fathers as they do about teen mothers. Sure, there are thousands of cases where teen fathers or the fathers of these children disappear- wanting nothing to do with the mother or the child. But, this is not case with every guy.

Stop telling young mothers that there relationships are doomed after a pregnancy occurs. There are teen dads who do want a relationship with their teen mom girlfriends and want to be a father to their child.

Take my husband for example. We’re talking about a teen dad who was working a part-time job, bought me groceries on the weekends, took me shopping whenever I needed anything, and gave my mom money every week. Who does that? Seriously! That’s exactly what I used to say every time we were faced with nonsense from relatives who didn’t want to see us win.

What teen father do you know who does that?! Now, he was only able to do this because we were both still living at our parents’ home at that time, so rent and a full set of bills were not a part of our daily lives as of yet. That image isn’t often portrayed in the media, so we don’t think these fathers exist. But they do.

Me and my husband have been together 19 years and married 18. We have 4 incredible kids, and have a great life despite all of the naysayers who tried to discourage us in the beginning. We both new that the love we had was real and much deeper than an ordinary puppy love romance.

Now I am well aware that this is not everybody’s story, and that’s okay too.  If the relationship between the two parties is toxic, than do everything you can to help keep the teen mother safe. If the relationship doesn’t work out, teach the former couple how to effectively co-parent. If the teen mom is flying solo, provide her with the necessary resources to get the assistance she will need to help her child thrive.

I encourage you to look deep into the story of these teen dads and these relationships as a whole before imposing your unsubstantiated opinions on them.

The Wrap Up

Things Every Teen Mom Needs to Know

Teen pregnancy is NOT the end of the world. There is life, happiness, love, and success after becoming a teenage mother.

Like I stated earlier, being a teen mom is no joke. But, I promise you your life is not over. If you can learn to keep your head in the game- that is the game of life, you will discover that this is just a part of your unique journey. Not one person on this earth will experience a life with no struggle or setback. We all have to overcome something. When you learn to alter your perspective about your teen pregnancy and not allow the stigma and demonizing opinions of outsiders to inhibit your personal growth and self-actualization, you become empowered to live the life you imagine for yourself and for your family.

Before I get out of here, I’d like to share a few notes that are applicable to every teen mom out there.

I wish I’d known them all when I first learned I was pregnant; but’s it’s been a hell of a journey getting here.

  • You are not a failure
    You are a mother. It might not be what you wanted when you wanted it, but it is still a beautiful thing to be.
  • You can still be successful in life
    Lots of teen moms go on to meet their goals, whatever they may be.
  • God has a purpose for your life and someone in this world needs your gifts
    He knows what He’s doing. Your own skills and experience make up a unique human being, and that human being has a place in this world.
  • You are stronger than you think you are
    You have done so much already! You will persist.
  • Keep moving forward. It will get better.
  • This too shall pass.
  • You CAN do this! You WILL do this!

Now go prove me right 😊

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