NWI Parent

On being a teenage mother

October 10th, 2011 - By Julia Huisman

I finally watched the MTV show Teen Mom for the first time. I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about that show. On the one hand, I think it’s great that it reveals the unglamorous reality of raising a child at such a young age. But on the other, I don’t like that it’s celebritizing these young girls. They and their children have enough to deal with already, and now they’re also subjected to the grueling pressures that so many reality stars face.

Plus, what’s going to happen when they’re no longer “teen” moms? Once they enter their twenties, their celebrity status will likely fade away and the world will forget about them. For someone like Catelynn Lowell, one of the teen moms who had a large feature story in US Weekly last week (right alongside Jessica Simpson and Kate Middleton), I imagine that such a drastic rise and fall of public attention could cause quite an identity crisis.

But maybe I’m just being dramatic. I hope so.

I wasn’t a teenage mother but I was a single mother in my early twenties, at a time when the rest of my peers were exploring the young adult world with a freedom and sense of possibility that I would never fully know. What I went through is only a fraction of what teenage mothers go through—the social isolation, the burden of being an adult before you’re mentally prepared to be, the relationship struggles, the difficulty of handling your education and career at the same time you’re handling dirty diapers and sick toddlers… I could go on and on.

While watching Teen Mom that night, I just wanted to run up to each girl and give them a hug, tell them to keep their head on straight and assure them that everything will be okay.  I wanted to tell them that they don’t need to be on a TV show to feel important, that what they’re doing in their own home already makes them brave and courageous. I wanted to encourage them to keep their children first; that their kids care more about being loved than being famous.

Because this is such a strong passion of mine, I help out with a group called Teen MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) at Faith Church in Dyer. I don’t normally plug anything on this blog, but I feel very strongly about this group, so here goes… If you or someone you know is a teenage mother (up to age 21) living in Northwest Indiana, I strongly encourage you/her to attend Teen MOPS. It’s every other Wednesday, 5:30-7:30 pm. Dinner and childcare are provided, and you’ll meet other moms like you, learn more about parenting and also have a chance to earn household items for you and your little one. Click here for more information.

I don’t know if Teen Mom is helping to increase or decrease the teenage pregnancy rate, but at the very least I hope we parents can use that show as an educational tool for our young daughters, so that they might choose youth and innocence over premature adulthood.

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