Think Being a Teen Parent Won't Cost You?

3.18.2013


These are the recent New York City Human Resource Administration ads causing a huge uproar in the media. The first time I saw them, I was unable to find words for how they made me feel. I knew theses statistics prior to seeing it plastered on a sign. When I found myself pregnant as a senior in high school, I spent many hours researching birth control, sex education, and teen pregnancy. Granted, it might have been a little late, but I wanted to educate myself on my own situation so one day I might prevent it from happening to somebody else.

I know, without a doubt, that these ads would not have prevented me from becoming a teen mom, and I do not believe that they will help other young girls from following in my footsteps. And that is what really upsets me. We can sit here and argue all day, but what is really important, what really matters, is that we give teenagers a comprehensive sexual education.

Prior to getting pregnant, my knowledge about sex was extremely limited. Honestly, sex was not good for me. I did not even experience an orgasm until after I had a baby, and my reasons for having sex were extremely immature. But I was a teenager who thought that I knew everything about everything. I thought that I was an adult and that I was invincible to all the consequences that came with my adult decisions. I do not blame my teen pregnancy on my lack of education. I got pregnant because of my own choices, but I do believe that informing teenagers (and people of ALL ages) about sex would encourage them to make better decisions. 

A couple weeks ago, I was out with a group of friends from high school. We are all about 22-23 now and the conversation of baby making came up. A majority of us already have kids, but there were a couple guys who do not. One of the guys said, "I was dating a seventeen year old girl, and I always pulled out", to explain why he had never had an unplanned pregnancy. I just kind of sat there and looked at him for a very long time, then I rambled off all my statistics about birth control while he blankly stared back at me...confused.

This is not the first time I have ran into young adults who are still uneducated about sex. A big part of the stigma and judgement associated with teenage pregnancy occurs because individuals of all ages are misinformed. People assume that if you got pregnant, you must have been being careless or promiscuous. 

These ads show me that, more than anything, being a teen parent costs your dignity, respect, and any chance you or your baby might have had to live a happy, successful life. Is this the message that we want to send to young mothers and fathers around the country who are struggling to make a better life for themselves and their children? So they made the choice to have sex which resulted in a pregnancy, but does this automatically seal the fate for two generations? 

I do not think so. I do not let statistics rule my life nor determine my future. Less than two percent of teenage mothers graduate from college, but on May 11th, I will walk across the stage to receive my Bachelor's degree after five years of hard work. I refuse to give up on my dreams, and I know that I am not alone. My son is happy, healthy, and capable of being so much more than just the child of a teenage mother. 

Teenage pregnancy is an important issue that does need attention. I have given presentations at my local high school about the issue, sharing my experience in hopes that maybe I prevent just one young girl from becoming a mother too soon. But as essential as it is to prevent future pregnancies from occurring, it is equally important to foster the growth and success of teen parents and the children that they already have. We should not be stereotyping them; we should not be shaming them. We should be supporting them and their dreams, every step of the way.

8 Responses to “Think Being a Teen Parent Won't Cost You?”

  1. thats right mama! if the aim is to reduce teen pregnancy, the key is EDUCATION about how to do that, and no "just don't have sex" does not count as education. what all teenagers (and younger in my opinion) need is comprehensive sex education, that covers all birth control, STDs, options for unexpected pregnancy and that sex is supposed to feel good!

    it really boils my blood. your impending graduation is such an inspiration!! as well as the fantastic job you do as a mom!

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    1. I am living proof that "just don't have sex" does not work lol. When my parents found out I was having sex, I was GROUNDED. But it was never discussed, even though I opened up and TOLD them I was having sex. I mean, it isn't their fault, but I just wish I had been better informed.

      And thanks for all of the wonderful compliments! I try my best :)

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  2. Can I just say, I am so, SO proud of you for writing this. You are an inspiration. I hope and pray that the ad makers see this excellent rebuttal to their senseless and heartless creation.

    XO

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    1. Thank you so much, Lacy! And thank you for featuring this on your blog! I hope that reading this changes just one persons mind about teen pregnancy.

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  3. I mean NO offense but don't you think these posters are educating? I know they are statistics but they present ne more reason not to have sex as a teen. They won't stop every teen from having sex but if they stop ONE wont that be worth it. I think you are great and inspiring. I hope you keep blogging and educating people and I am sorry you were insulted by the posters.

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  4. I'm a new follower to your blog, and so glad to be here. You are a wonderful writer and mama!

    I agree with everything you've said here. I've been dating my husband since we were 15 (we're almost 30 now) and I was fortunate to have a mother who laid it on the line honestly for us during that time. "If you're having sex, don't be ashamed, it's normal! But tell me, so I can help make sure it's safe." I always knew I could talk to my mom about things without judgment, and to fully understand. When I wanted to be put on birth control, I asked my mother and she happily took me and made sure I understood fully how to take it properly. My only son is only 2 years old, but I hope to be as open and honest with him one day.

    My sister is 16. My mother is the same with her, in terms of being honest and making sure she is educated. However, I've seen such a huge...flaw, in the way so many of her friends parents are parenting -- especially the ones having sex. It's usually taught by them to their kids as "sex is wrong, don't do it" which leads to sneaking out and other dangerous situations, or masked behind a church thing (i.e. "it's shameful, don't do it"). I wish there was some way to have better comprehensive sex education in schools in the cases the parents don't come through, if that makes sense?

    (And, these posters wouldn't have stopped me, either. They just seem like melodramatic scare tactics and usually teenagers are all "I know everything about everything and can disprove everything you say" so in one ear, out the other.)

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    1. Thank you for following and the wonderful compliments! I agree with you so much, and I also hope to be very open and honest about sexuality and sex with my son and future children. I don't think shaming works on preventing teenage intercourse or pregnancy. My parents definitely took the "sex is wrong" path, and look how that turned out! I remember when I told my parents that I was having sex, they grounded me for a month but we didn't even talk about it. I'm not saying it is their fault, but I do think, as you stated, that a comprehensive sex education in schools would be SO beneficial. I think it would have helped me. I really knew NOTHING about sex when I was having it.

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