People who shame young mothers suck. Just because YOU at 20 don’t want to give up partying and your ‘life’ doesn’t mean every other 20 year old wants to be a drunk with no meaning to their life. Get over your fucking self. My child didn’t ruin my life, she gave it meaning.
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.”
Motherhood met me young. Some may see that as a failure. I don’t. I have fully surrendered and succumbed to motherhood, letting it wash over me and smooth out all my jagged edges and shape my unruly parts. It’s healed me in ways I never knew I needed healing, and it all started with those two pink lines.
Being a Young Mom Does Not Make Me a Failure, Lexi Behrndt
To the girl with the pregnancy test in the grocery store bathroom, waiting impatiently to see her results, you will survive.
To the girl with the packed backpack full of clothes and photos, getting kicked out by her parents because she is pregnant, you will survive.
To the girl with the boy who left her because he won’t own up to his responsibilities of being a father, you will survive.
To the girl going into labor who is scared of the change her life will have when she gives birth, you will survive.
To the girl with the life plan who can not bring a child into the world yet, you will survive.
To the girl with the pain in the hospital room alone without an infant to take home, you will survive.
To the girl with the crying infant who has not slept in weeks, you will survive.
To the girl with the scrutiny of society because she became pregnant as a teenager, you will survive.
I will not lie and say you will be ok, because life is a roller coaster and no one knows if life will get better or worse, but I do know you will survive through this journey.
You will come out stronger and wiser than before.
You are not defined by the words and judgments of others.
You are defined by your perception of who you are, not anyone else’s.
Being a young mom just means that we met a little early. But it also means, I get to love you a little longer. Some people say that I’m ruining my life that they are disappointed and even that my life is ruined..But what people don’t seem to realize, it’s that it’s just begun. This has helped me grown up & focus on my future. Its the beginning of a new chapter in my life that I’m willing to take on. You didn’t take away from my future. You gave me a new one. <3