Stopping the Stigma of Teen Moms

STOPPING THE STIGMA OF TEEN MOMS

 

To me, becoming a mom at any age is scary, personally, I hate not knowing what is happening in the future and not being able to control it; and pregnancy is full of the unknown. When my friend called me last year to tell me she was pregnant, I was in shock and scared for her. She decided to keep her baby, and she would go to work full-time in order to obtain maternity leave from the government. As her pregnancy progressed, I was still shocked, and scared, partly because I could not believe it, but also because I am pessimistic and could not stop thinking about the ‘what ifs’. I knew she would be a great mom, and had the support of her friends and family, something that was crucial for her. Going out to the mall with her, I could see the stares at her, but I did not see it bothering her, of course she had gotten used to it by then. I remember going to the baby section of stores and looking at the different things I could buy her and her baby, being so excited and having the employees or other moms giving me a sympathizing smile, as if they felt bad for me because I was shopping for babies. At the time, that already bothered me, but I did not think much of it because I knew I was happy and no one could change that.

When she gave birth, the joy of knowing her son, and seeing her bravery was a happiness I cannot explain in words, even to this date. Seeing her and her son have such a loving bond was beautiful and I wished everyone had gotten to see it first hand, and experience it. When we all went out I was proud to be with them, and I always wanted to carry her son and play with him. When he was only one month, after going out with them to get food, or get groceries, what got me mad and upset was the judging looks.

One day, we went to the mall and my friend was in the changing rooms, so of course it was my call to be the baby sitter for 5 minutes. I took the stroller, the diaper bag and walked around the store to look for clothing, and I felt the stares. Although he was not my kid (as much as I would love to be his mom and be with him every day), it got me upset because what if he was mine? Why are you looking at me in a mean way because I am holding a baby? I suddenly became protective of my friend, because if I felt judged for 5 minutes, I hated the thought of her having the same feeling forever.

This made me think, why is there a stigma around teen moms? Is it because they are young? Do we think that they are not equipped to be adequate mothers? But then, who is an ‘adequate’ mom? To be honest, before seeing it first-hand, I thought teen moms were brave, but they needed to be extra careful than women who become mothers later in life. I thought this just because of their education, my parents raised me to believe that success was brought on by successfully finishing university and getting a job in your field. But growing up, I realized education was not the end all be all, as my parents had suggested. People took a year off, found their passion, others never went to post-secondary but were some of the happiest people.

So my friend, finished first year, and had taken second year off to work and get her life and her son’s life ready. To this day, she has a beautiful baby boy, she is taking online courses and she already has a plan in place to go back to school next year. Again, why are teen moms shamed?

When I saw what she goes through, and through what I am sure many other teen moms go through, I decided it was unfair and wrong for others to judge. People do not know how this baby came to be, or the personal life of the mother, they are not in a position to judge. I admire my friend, for being brave, for ignoring the stares, for fighting for her baby, for putting herself second to everything from now on, and for still continuing with her life, with her little sidekick by her side.

Me? I do not know if I could have ever been doing half of what she is doing now, but I am honoured to see her and any other young mom so happy with their babies. Even if it was not planned, I think that is what life is, a series of unplanned events.

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