A few months ago I put out a call to a few of my networks asking to connect with current or former teen moms. I know they are out there and they are successfully parenting. Several were kind enough to answer my call and even kind enough to answer a few questions for me. This post is from Gloria. Brief (as she rightly advised me to be) yet powerful and oh so on point.
S: Tell me a bit about your story. When you got pregnant, how family, friends, baby’s father and most important, you, handled it?
G: I became pregnant at the age of 15 and had my daughter 4 days before my 16th birthday. Somehow her father and I just knew I was pregnant. We were talking on the phone a few weeks after having intercourse and he said “You’re pregnant aren’t you?” We just knew. My entire family was in shock I was the extra curricular involved honors and AP student. Teenage pregnancy doesn’t happen to girls like me. But it does.
S: Did you consider adoption for your child? Do you know anyone your age that has surrendered their child to adoption?
G: I did not consider adoption. One of my sisters suggested it just as a mere suggestion and we all basically asked her if she was fkcn crazy. I do not know anybody my age that gave their child up for adoption.
S: How did you find help and resources (or did you)?
G: I just had to ask around and hope something would come up. Mostly nothing did but there were a few services I received.
S: What resources would you suggest today to a teen facing an unplanned pregnancy?
- First and foremost — seek out emotional help. Mental/emotional support is not a bad thing and I really wish I had more of it.
- Know your legal rights like Title Nine which states your school can NOT kick you out and several other amazing things you need to know.
- Look for a community whether it be a physical one or one online that provides you with REAL support. Not the back handed “I will help you but not that much because remember YOU did THIS to yourself.” Google for your future. Look for daycare help, breast feeding help, young mom groups. Use Google to help you find a world of support. It might not be on the first page results but it’s there if you look for it.
- HOLD ON to your dreams — you know the ones you had before becoming pregnant because you can still achieve them.
- Last but not least: become your own best advocate and be confident in yourself. No one will take you seriously if you don’t yourself.
S: Do you believe we can prevent teen pregnancy and if so, how? If not, why not?
G: Absolutely prevent teenage pregnancy? No. Greatly reduce it? Yes.
I have so many ideas on how we can achieve this goal but first and foremost we need federally mandated comprehensive sex education.
Second, support the Real Education For Healthy Youth Act.
Third, talk to your children about relationships, sex, their bodies, good touch bad touch and everything else society is already doing but not contextualizing for them.
S: Anything else you would like to share?
G: Realize that YOU are responsible for your body, future, and sexual health and you alone. If you feel your school isn’t teaching you the sex ed that is relevant to you and your peers speak out. If you feel pressured to have sex speak out and most importantly realize that sex and relationships are not one in the same.