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Knowledge is Power
My friend is constantly talking to me about how she wants to get pregnant and pressuring me to do the same. Whenever I ask her why she thinks this way, she goes on a rant about how having a baby will help her gain more independence. I try to talk to her and hopefully change her mind, but she always gets upset and comes back with the question, “You don’t know what it’s like, so how can you speak about it?” Time has passed and we still haven’t spoken, but she is right — I don’t know what a teen could lose if they become pregnant. What should I do?
~ Knowledge is Power
Dear Knowledge is Power
You are correct: with the right knowledge, you can make informed decisions. I asked for the help of a previous teen mom, Kysha, to share her viewpoints and hopefully shed some light on this topic. “Getting pregnant is the complete opposite of gaining independence,” says Kysha. “In fact, it makes you more dependent.”
If you’re not financially well off — and let’s be real, there are not too many teens that are — you will depend on the system.
If you don’t have a strong support system, you’ll depend on strangers. If the father isn’t around, you’ll depend on your family and friends. And this is while someone is depending on you. Now, having a child is a lovely thing, but it’s hard to enjoy unless you’re at a good place in your life. Independence is not something a child brings you. It’s something you bring to yourself. When you have a child, you lose and gain a lot of things, but there are so many factors you have to look at beforehand. In brief: young mothers lose sleep, friends, school, jobs, self-esteem, and sometimes their minds. It’s tough.
I took the time to write this because I believe that if teens hear the opinions of someone else who was a teen mom, and not just the statistics, then maybe, just maybe, it will help change their minds about “Teen Pregnancy.” Some say teen pregnancy is a cycle, stemming from parents that have been teen parents themselves. Sometimes teen pregnancy occurs when the teen hasn’t been given the proper information. Some teens are open to the risk of becoming pregnant because they don’t want to go on a type of birth control, due to the fear that they may gain weight. Then there are some who think it will bring them independence. They say teen pregnancy is high in low-income families, and in single parent families, as well. As I look around at teen moms, the fact is that I don’t think they know what they are about to face. Teen pregnancy is not something you should take lightly. Teens need to know what they are up against when they make a decision bigger than themselves! Some teens say they want to get pregnant to have someone to love them. Some say it’s to gain their independence, because their friends are doing it, or worst of all, to prove to their boyfriend they love them. Well, these reasons will not give you independence, and more importantly, they will not help you keep your man. If anything, you will have the huge responsibility of caring for the life of another who is depending solely on you.
On the outside, you may carry a smile while you push your stroller, but on the inside is where the real battle starts. It’s been proven that teen moms get “stuck” in a state of mind, and they are not aware of all of the doors that are closed to them — how opportunities are cut short for them in every area of their life, from educational, social and mental, to emotional, and even physical.
The inner struggle of putting your life on hold hits hard when your “boo” leaves you for someone else who has no children and can hang out more. Or when you see your friends graduate, then start a job or career, or invite you out and you can’t go. Unless you have a strong support system, plus tons of funds in the bank, the “NO” answers keep creeping into your life choices, from going back to school to getting a job. Youth need to know that the rate of teen couples staying together is not as high as they may think. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but remember you both are young, and what might be cool today can change tomorrow. Not to mention, it’s been proven that a teen who has a child will likely have another one by the time she’s in her 20s, so now that’s two kids. And it’s also known that teens who become pregnant are less likely to attend college or continue to complete their grade 12. This is where the cycle starts. You need an education to get a good job, you need a job to pay your bills and put food on the table for your child, you need childcare to look after your child while you work or go to school. With no education, there is a higher percentage of positions that only pay minimum wage. You’ll make just enough to cover your bills, but not enough to cover your transportation or sufficient childcare. Many single moms are forced to go on welfare to support their family. Or, if they do gain employment and their wages can’t cover childcare, they may have to have their kids raise themselves before or after school, leaving room for the cycle to possibly begin again in the next generation. Sure, the teen mom would hopefully call home every day, but there is no substitute for “mommy” being at home. Instead, you’ll be at work or school worrying constantly about your child. Having a child is strenuous and will challenge the best of adults who have been able to utilize all the knowledge they have learned over the years. So to be a child and have a child is even harder. I’m not saying that all these things cannot be overcome, but it takes a lot for that to happen. So I believe more of a conversation with teens about what to expect years later needs to be addressed. What I’m sharing may or may not change teen pregnancy as a whole, but if it changes the thought process of just one teen, then the word is being heard. Now to the teens that say that “It wouldn’t be me,” I can tell you: There are a lot of teen moms, just like me, that said the same thing. So I leave you with this: Don’t be impulsive, know all the facts, and allow yourself time to grow up. Blessings. A great book to check out: The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez.