Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

The importance of amniotic fluid Amniotic fluid is essential for pregnancy and foetal development. Amniotic fluid is a watery substances residing inside a casing called the amniotic membrane or sac. ...

Choosing a pre-school

Becoming a parent is a momentous; life-changing event filled with hopes, expectations and naturally some fears. Parents often learn and grow alongside their children, as they face the challenges of pa...

Newborn reflexes

Although newborn babies are physically helpless and vulnerable at birth, they have a number of amazing innate abilities or reflexes. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions, designed to protect ...

Mastitis

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can lead to infection. The word “mastitis” is derived from the Greek word “mastos” meaning “breasts”, while the suffix “-itis” denotes “inflammation”. Ma...

Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...

Colic

Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...

Strap-in-the-Future

The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

The challenges that teen moms face

teen_mom"From the first day of those 9 months I realized I was single in the sense that the father was never going to be around but I was not single in the fact that I would never really be alone again."
~ Ashleigh Abels

As with all life experiences, being a single mom has both its joys and its hardships. Add youth into the mix and you might be faced with stigma, financial difficulties, loneliness, uncertainty, lost youth, and accusations of neglect and the abuse of child support grants. As Tracy Engelbrecht, author of "The girl who couldn't say no" points out; today's young unmarried moms are not only faced with "ignorant people flinging generalizations around"; but the political implications of "abusing" government grants and services.

Teens may face the practical problems of where to live and how to take care of their babies, the experience of changes in their bodies and hormones, the loss of friendships and the father of their child, teasing and harassment at school, and biased judgments from outsiders.

Termination

Young girls, especially teens may be pressurized to give up their child either through abortion or adoption. Being a child about to have a child brings the potential issues of age and the perceived accompanying maturity, financial security, ability to take responsibility, education and societal stigma to the fore. Shizelle, a mom at the age of 15, described herself as "scared to death confused" and despite familial pressure to have an abortion, decided to carry her baby to term. At the age of 19, Shizelle rejoices in the beauty of motherhood and advises other young teens: "... it's your choice, but let it be your choice, because after all it's gonna be your responsibility".

Support

Teen moms, who have a roof over their heads and a safe place to raise their child, have more options and opportunities for choice, than those who have to struggle for the basic necessities of life or those who are involved in unhealthy or abusive relationships. Being able to stay with family and have their support makes education, emotional care and parenting assistance more accessible. For teens, just like any other parent- parenting is hard work. Some teens may feel the added pressure of wanting to prove their parenting abilities due to stigmatization and may find it difficult to ignore judgmental types. This may translate into self-recriminations about past choices, low self-esteem and self-doubt concerning current life decisions. Laura Haskins-Bookser former teen mom and motivational speaker, inspires teen moms to follow their dreams and puts single, young motherhood into perspective. One of her goals is to enrich the lives of single young moms and change the idea that creating life can be considered a "mistake", "because no matter where one came from, every life can be amazing".

Lifestyle changes

As a teen mom, your friends may be unable to relate to your change in lifestyle or experiences as a parent. Your priorities shift from "me" to "we" and this may be accompanied by loneliness, especially in the absence of a strong support system. From being a teen who was possibly interested in partying, boys and fun; your focus moves to taking care of a tiny human being, who needs to be nurtured, loved and cared for 24 hours a day.

Childcare

With good quality, affordable childcare often being difficult to find, young moms may struggle with finding suitable work or returning to school. Even with a strong support system, being a mom and a scholar/ worker simultaneously is heavy going.

Attitudes

The discriminatory and unpleasant attitudes of some individuals, communities and people in charge, may leave many moms feeling unworthy on both a human and parental level and reluctant to seek help when they really need it. Unfortunately, parenting skills are sometimes judged on the basis of age instead of individual merit. A teen's role as mom may be negated due to societal perceptions of what parents "should" look like and what is an "acceptable" age for parenthood. Ashley, mom at the age of 16, gives the example of being referred to as her child's nanny, despite her repeated introductions as her child's mother.

Single young parenthood sometimes gives rise to religious and moralistic issues. Heather (young mom to a 10 year old) focuses on the lack of support for and shaming of teen moms. "I hid my pregnancy from a lot of people because I was an "unmarried teen mother and I felt like I was a whore. This is NOT the way to support a teen mom." Ashley echoes this lack of respect and moral support by relating her experience of being mistaken for her baby's sister and on correcting the misperception, being accused of condemning herself and her innocent child to hell.

Moms are moms

Although teen moms may be younger, they still share the same love for their children as other moms. Although they may not have finished school, they still have the same intuitive feelings regarding the wellbeing of their babies. Although they may have become pregnant "by mistake", they still need support and help, so that they can function optimally and be the best mom to their children. Although young moms may not have as many years of experience as older moms, some may surpass with an abundance of wisdom:

"Young moms, might face many different challenges to other moms, but our children are all the same. Regardless of how old mommy is, all babies cry the same, poop the same and all mommies worry the same. We all need the same encouragement and reassurance that we are doing ok".
~ Tracey Engelbrecht

References
Flores, V.B. Young Mamas Need Support, Not Stigma. Ms. Blog Magazine. http://www.msmagazine.com/blog/ Published May 11, 2012. Accessed May 23, 2012.
Moja Media. 10 Questions for Writer and One Time Teen mom Tracy Engelbrecht. Portfolio Collection Travel Blog. http://www.travelblog.portfoliocollection.com/. Published February 24, 2011. Accessed May 21, 2012.
Single family Voices.com. Single Parents forum. Singlefamilyvoices.com. http://www.singlefamilyvoices.com/. Published March 10, 2005. Accessed May 21, 2012.
Teenmomincollege. You can do it. Teenmomincollege. http://www.hasbooks.com/go-to-college.html. Accessed May 26, 2012.
WordPress. The Girl Who Couldn't Say No. Tracy Engelbrecht. http://www.traceyengelbrecht.com/. Published January 26, 2012. Accessed May 20, 2012.