May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. This is a time when many pregnant and parenting teens are inundated with shameful advertisements that try to place them inside a box and make them feel as though their lives are destined for failure the moment they receive that positive pregnancy test. These advertisements contain very derogatory and shameful statements, such as the following from The Candies Foundation:
“Get pregnant, and you won’t be moving out of your parents house anytime soon.”
“You think being in school sucks? You know what sucks a whole lot more? A baby – almost every two hours for feeding time. Guess school doesn’t suck that badly, huh?”
“…but you got pregnant, and now you’re stuck pushing a stroller around while your friends are kickin’ it without you.”
Yes, parenting is extremely challenging. It is ideal to become a parent when you are financially and emotionally stable, which isn’t typically during your teenage years. It truly is the most difficult job in the entire world, and it is hard for anyone to grasp this concept until they are actually living it. Then again, an unplanned pregnancy shouldn’t sentence you to a life of shame. Those of us who have selflessly chosen to raise our children shouldn’t be punished and made to feel like failures. We should be uplifted, supported, and pushed to succeed for the sake of our children and ourselves.
Shaming isn’t the answer. Inspired by Boston activist and former teen parent Natasha Vianna, my nine-year-old daughter, Hayley, and I are ready to speak out. Hayley might be young, but she isn’t immune to the shaming and stigma that come along with having such a young mom. She has been told more times than she can count that I look far too young to be her mother. It doesn’t matter that I’m now 27, a college graduate, married, and financially stable. The shaming never ends. When she sees these ads and realizes that she, a beautiful and thriving young girl, is the “problem” they are trying to “solve,” it is hurtful. She isn’t a problem; she is a human child.
Becoming a teen parent doesn’t seal your fate. If I had listened to The Candies Foundation when I was a teen parent, I might not be where I am today. You aren’t destined to a life of poverty and shame. We all have the power to work hard and better ourselves, parenting or not. The Candies Foundation says, “We should be changing the world, not changing diapers.”
Teen parents already go through enough as it is, I personally suffer from anxiety and depression and all of the people out there shaming pregnant teenagers and their partners into feeling so terrible about them selves needs to end. Nothing they say is going to make me un-pregnant. Nothing is going to help me so why even say anything?
“In 1971, Bossier City, Louisiana, there was a teenage girl who was pregnant with her second child. She was a high school dropout and a single mom, but somehow she managed to make a better life for herself and her children. She encouraged her kids to be creative, to work hard and to do something special. That girl is my mother and she’s here tonight.
And I just want to say, I love you, Mom. Thank you for teaching me to dream.”
Just let an ignoramus have a taste of intelligence on a Facebook discussion about “irresponsible teen moms” and how we have to pay for them to suck on the government teat for no reason.
Too bad he spit it out. I was hoping he’d get at least a little down his throat. Oh well.