I’ve mentioned about being a teen parent in previous posts, but for those of you who don’t know... I became pregnant with my first child while still in high school. It probably wasn’t the smartest life choice for me, however, I don’t feel like I have been held back from anything important. I still managed to finish all my high school exams and get into a fantastic university. I also managed to graduate with a 2:1 degree and secure a place as a PhD student.
Nevertheless, I thought I would share with you some of the more inconvenient aspects I have encountered after deciding to raise a family at a young age:
Firstly (and most obvious) - the negative stigma associated with being a teen parent. When my daughter was still a baby, I would travel by bus a lot in order to do my shopping or visit different people. Time and again, people (mostly the older generation) would stare and tut under their breath. I would get comments such as ‘Don’t you think you’re too young to have a baby?’ and ‘How old are you then?’ I would often wonder what makes these people think they are entitled to an opinion on my choice to have children?! If they say these things to me, are they saying them to other young mothers? They have to understand that their comments only result in vulnerable young women feeling hurt and angry. Your words are not encouraging these mothers to achieve and are instead, isolating them further!
It is not often that teenagers can stick together once a baby is introduced into the relationship – I was no exception. My relationship broke down not long after my daughter was born. It was easy to see that we were not meant for each other once we attempted the task of parenting. After another failed relationship with a uni friend, I turned to online dating in an effort to find my soul mate. I was lucky – after my second date, Paul appeared in my life and we now have another child together - others are not so fortunate.
Isolation From Friends
While a couple of my high school friends have also had children, my friends from uni are only just embarking on their parenting journey - ten years after I started mine! A couple of my uni friends had a wee girl not long before Christmas (find out more here) and I now finally feel like I have people to share my problems with. It’s very difficult for those who don’t have children to understand the general stresses that come with raising them. Only other parents will appreciate the funny side of dealing with a ‘poonami’ at 3am!
When I was born, my Grandma retired to look after me – when my daughter was born, my Mum was 20+ years away from retirement! Now, I don’t see our parents only as cheap babysitters, but it would make our life easier if they weren’t working! At approximately £1000 per month for childcare, we'd jump at any chance to reduce our costs!
Finally – The ‘soon-to-expire’ Provisional Driving License
I had every intention of learning to drive as soon as possible, but something always seems to get in the way. The only use my provisional has seen was as an entrance ticket to the various clubs I frequented during the start of uni, and now I don't even need it for that! I’m pretty sure I would have passed by now if it wasn’t for the kids, perhaps I can make it next year’s resolution!
Despite these downsides to my parenting experience, I would not change any of it! Parenting is going to be a challenge whatever your personal circumstances, but the important thing is learning how to cope.
Have any of you encountered any similar challenges on your journey? I'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments section :)