Tag Archives: teen pregnancy

#ThingsAYoungMomDoesntWantToHear

Across the country (and even over seas!) young mothers are uniting in a discussion on a common topic – their experiences as a young parent. The hash tag #ThingsAYoungMomDoesntWantToHear was started by blogger and former teen mom, Natasha Vianna about her frustration with comments made to young mothers. You can read more about how and why #ThingsAYoungMomDoesntWantToHear started in Natasha’s blog post at the PushBack.

Clearly Natasha struck a chord with other current and former young moms, who have utilized the hash tag and shared their own frustrations and experiences. As a former young mom, I too joined in on the discussion. I was 19 years old when my first daughter was born and by 23 I had two daughters. The stares I received and the comments people have felt the need to share with me have, at times, been appalling.

Shortly after leaving my abusive, dead-beat boyfriend I was at my postpartum check up. My beautiful 6-week old daughter was sleeping in her car seat, as I sat in the waiting room filling out papers.  Two middle-age ladies who were sitting near by “whispered” to one other about how I was, “Just another one of those girls.”  It sadly wasn’t the first nor the last negative comment I have heard.

You’re doing a good job… for a young parent (& why is that surprising?)

Why didn’t you marry your [abusive] baby’s father?

Your life held such potential [it still does]

Really? You have two kids?

Its irresponsible of you to want your own identity and interests

 How unfair that teens are having babies when there are couples who are unable to conceive [no correlation]

I was fortunate to connect with a young mom group in my area at that time called MELD. Once a week several other young moms, myself and our children would meet. For the first hour we shared dinner with one another and our children. Afterwards our kids would be watched by volunteers and the remaining time would be split between sharing and education. As we shared our experiences with one another, there seemed to be an endless supply of rude, appalling things we were being told.  Though I have graduated from the group, I still keep in contact with most of the moms. I have also made amazing, supportive friendships with many young parents online.

Despite assumptions and stereotypes placed on young mothers, we are succeeding. I’ve completed a college degree and am working on a second one to become a social worker (working with young parents and their children). I’m a member of my school’s honor society and my GPA is a 3.549. My young mom friends have also graduated high school and gone to college.

As Katie of A Girl Like Me blogs: “We’re not all on welfare, and we’re not all party animals or sluts or druggies like the girls who give the rest of us a bad name. We love and take care of our kids just as much as ‘normal’ aged mothers do. We’re still intelligent and productive members of society. We grow up with our kids, and I feel like we learn more life lessons that way. The young moms I know are some of the wisest people in my life.”

Natasha Vianna blogs that, “Hearing the success stories of young moms can sometimes anger people even more. If we’re not falling into the ‘stereotype’ and have made something of our lives, we are told we are still a bad example! We are told we are promoting the concept of becoming a teen mom. When we fail, we get the ‘I told you so!”

The stereotyping and judgments placed on young parents is appalling and damaging to their success and the success of their children. General assumptions, such as the ones shared on #ThingsAYoungMomDoesntWantToHear can be truly damaging. We are empowered by speaking out and sharing our experiences as young moms. I encourage all young moms, current and former, to join in the  conversation on twitter #ThingsAYoungMomDoesntWantToHear

Justin Bieber, Sex Education & Informed Sexual Choices

Recently allegations have been made suggesting that teen heart-throb Justin Bieber may have fathered a baby with a female fan. If we can temporarily suspend thoughts on the merit of this claim, we can view Bieber’s possible teen parenthood in relation to sexual education in the United States. Cristina Page of the Huffington Post recently authored an insightful article on the very topic.

In The Sex Education of Justin Bieber, Page states that, “Bieber serves as an allegory for the way we treat American teens: leading them to temptation, unprotected and unprepared, and expecting more of them than we do of ourselves.” Sex education in the US is lacking. An overwhelming amount of US schools do not offer adequate sex education and many that do focus primarily on an abstinence only model.

The temptation that faces hormone-driven teenagers, combined with their embarrassment and lack of education concerning sex is sadly setting them up for potential consequences they are neither prepared for nor often aware of. Contraceptives, such as condoms, are not only important as a form of birth control but also as a method of preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

Recent studies from the National Campaign indicate that nearly half of all teenagers in the US have ever had sex and over one-third are sexually active (defined as having had sex during the past three months). A condom was used in less than two-thirds of those sexually active teens the last time they had sex. Birth control at the last time of sex was used in only one-in five sexually active teens, essentially unchanged from 1991.

With this information its not difficult to see how the lack of adequate, informative sex education may play a role in United States teen pregnancy rates. The US still has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and birth among comparable countries. In 2008 the teen birth rate in the US was 41.5 births per 1000.  Unprotected sex can result in pregnancy, even the very first time you have sex.

Source: The National Campaign

In her article Page suggests that Bieber, “talk candidly about sexual desire and pregnancy prevention” with his fans as, “a single informed tweet from Justin could do more for prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases than the morning after pill.”

Any informative sexual education aimed at teenagers could prove useful, especially coming from a peer-aged celebrity. As for the allegations against Bieber? We’ll have to wait and see how they play out. Regardless, teens deserve adequate and realistic sexual knowledge with the ultimate goal of preventing sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy.

For more information on sexual education, contraceptives and preventing teen pregnancy & sexually transmitted diseases, please visit Scarleteen. Their page, Birth Control Bingo, can assist you in finding the method of birth control that’s right for you.

Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy?

As I was scrolling my Facebook feed this afternoon I came across a new post from The PushBack blog. A project of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, the PushBack is a  blog where young parents and those who work with and for them can present truthful stories of their lives.  The  post, entitled ‘Prevention Campaign Promotes Stereotyping’, and written by Natasha Vianna examines a YouTube video  by the DC Campaign.

Supposedly the video is part of a campaign to prevent teen pregnancy. Instead the video uses ridiculous stereotypes of teen parents.  Natasha accurately states that, “By using a teen mother’s life as a way of scaring people into choosing an alternate life, you are offending and seriously harming that teen mother. You are pressuring her into accepting the failures.”  After watching the video, I was angry and offended. Like Natasha, who is also a former teen parent, it hurts to see teen pregnancy continue to be stereotyped, especially by a campaign that is claiming to be promoting teen pregnancy prevention.

This and other stereotypes are largely inaccurate and based on unfounded assumptions. They perpetuate judgement and prejudices.  Negative stereotypes, like the one portrayed in this video, may even cause people in the targeted group to view the stereotype and it’s behaviors as the norm, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and setting them up for failure. While our goal is to reduce teenage pregnancy, we also need to support and encourage teenage parents to succeed. Presenting stereotypes such as these, only hurts, offends and alienates current and former teen mothers. And is an ineffective way to decrease teen pregnancy.

To check out the blog post, and the video:

Prevention campaign promotes stereotyping | The PushBack