High school is hard. Being a teen is probably even harder. We’re growing up mentally and physically, and sometimes all of the changes can be a bit overwhelming. Now, imagine dealing with school, family, drama, and maybe even work. Then add a baby.
Did you know statistics show that one in three teens are sexually active? Did you know three in ten teen girls become pregnant before age 20?
Not many teens are emotionally or financially ready to support a baby. According to some adults, a teen’s biggest worry should be who’s going to be their date to homecoming. As a teen, I know that can be the least of some of our worries. But the point is still the same; even though parents complain, we deserve to act selfish, dramatic, and lazy every once in a while and that’s kind of hard to do when the well-being of a child is in your hands.
- Only one-third of teen mothers finish high school and receive their degree.
- 80% of all unmarried teens end up on welfare.
- One-half of teen mothers are supported by welfare the first year.
- By age 30, only 1.5 percent of teen mothers have a college degree.
Many young girls think a baby will bring them and their boyfriend closer together or stop him from leaving. But the sad truth is:
- 8 out of 10 teen fathers don’t marry the mother of their child.
- Absentee fathers usually pay less that $800 a year for child support, and even then, only 1 in 5 mothers receive child support at all.
- If the mother and the father do manage to stay together, the added stress of a baby can’t be good for the relationship.
For teen boys who either want to have a child or don’t take the proper precautions to prevent pregnancies, studies show that:
- Teen fathers make 10 to 15 thousand dollars less a year than men who wait to have children.
- Like teen mothers, teen fathers are also less likely to graduate high school.
- They are 5 times more likely to get involved in criminal activity, including drug and alcohol abuse.
I personally am the child of a teen mother. My mom got pregnant with me at 15 and had me at 16. My father told her having a baby would mean that she would get to live with him, and they could be together without her parents trying to keep them apart. As it turns out, none of that was true. My father hasn’t paid child support once in the past 10 years without being forced to pay by the court system. I rarely see him, and a few months ago, he cut off any relationship we had completely.
When I asked my mom what it was like, at first, her only response was “hard.” Then she thought for a second and said, “The responsibilities were too hard for someone my age. Babies having babies. You had your days and nights mixed up, and I had school the next day. That was beyond tough, and I was forced to quit school. Don’t really know what you want me to say. That’s why I have always encouraged you to finish school and get your career started before even thinking of having kids. It isn’t all snuggles and kisses. It’s a real job you don’t get paid for; but it definitely has its rewards. I had you!”
Okay, stop for a second.
Now let’s think about the children of teen parents. Research shows that children of teen mothers have a harder time in school than their peers do. Children that have teen mothers:
- have a 50% greater chance of repeating a grade than children that have an older mother.
- are less likely to finish high school and make lower grades on standardized tests, like the ACT and SAT.
- daughters of teen mothers are 3 times more likely to become teen mothers themselves.
- sons of teen moms are twice as likely to end up in prison than children of older parents.
I’m not trying to put down teen moms or make them regret their decision, and I apologize if I made you feel that way. I have good friends that have babies and some that are pregnant. I am the product of teen pregnancy. I’m just trying to show the real struggles many teen parents go through everyday. If you are a teen parent, I wish you the best of luck!
However, despite what some teenagers think, being a parent is not just hugs and kisses. It’s time-consuming and stressful. I know some of you are thinking, “Why are you giving advice; you’re not a teen mom.” No, I’m not, but I grew up with one, and I know that my mom tried as hard as she could, but we both had challenges to overcome due to her having me so young. So my advice would be to wait until you’re married, out of school, and have the time and money that babies deserve.