I became a mom before most of my friends were in their first serious relationship. My life went on a quick, fast forward motion through high school and college while raising a tiny human and maintaining a relationship with my boyfriend. There were a lot of people who offered their opinions on how and what we should do, but there were only a select few who offered their true love and support. For that, we are forever grateful.
Here are three things I want you to know so the next time you run into a teenage mother, you will hopefully think before you open your mouth.
First, I want you to hear firsthand that it hurts when people stare at you like you have three heads and avoid eye contact in the store with you because you are pregnant. Once I even heard the same people go on a pro-life rant but chose not to even congratulate me on my pregnancy. The irony of me carrying said “life” hit me like a ton of bricks even at 16. I get it, you don’t want to “encourage” teenage sex. I promise you the mother standing there pregnant doesn’t want to encourage teenage sex either, and in fact, would probably tell said teenagers to stay very far away – but she is still human and deserves love. The first time I was congratulated on my pregnancy was after my son was born. Try to say congratulations and mean it. After all, there is a life being brought into this world.
Second, there is a lot of support out there for the babies of teenage moms. The babies are typically well taken care of. However, like moms who have kids at any age, the moms need care too. Care to learn how to breast feed, resources for Post-Partum Depression and even how to change a diaper. As moms, we know that raising children is not an exact science but having the support of someone who has been there makes a huge difference. Maybe you can be that resource for someone; show a mom a thing or two about taking care of her bundle of joy.
Finally, most of the time, the mom knows that she messed up. She knows that her life will now be harder, but give her some grace. She knows her chances of graduation dips significantly, but she doesn’t need to hear it again. Show her that we are all figuring this thing called life out together and try to keep your judgments to yourself. I promise you she is judging herself. When I look back now that I am knocking on 30’s door, the best lessons that I learned about life didn’t come from anger or judgment, they came in love. People who truly loved me and believed in me showed me how to be the best mother that I could be.
These are just a few things that I hope you remember the next time you run into someone who is young and pregnant.