For the Teen Mother;
We know who we are.
We are individuals, each with our own story and our own dreams.
We are women who had our babies in our teens.
We know who we are.

But do you?

We hear people talk about us on the street, in the store.
We read about “teen mothers” in the paper.
We wonder–“Who are they talking about?”

This is what we hear and read:

“Babies having babies.
“I hope you’re babysitting!”
“Your life is over now.”
“How old was she when she had him?”
“They just think their babies are dolls to dress up and show off!”
“They will be welfare mums forever.”

They don’t know us. Do you?
If you did, this is what you would learn…

We are individuals, and our lives are not over.
Many of us stay in our high schools, vocational schools, and colleges, and we intend to finish.
We are confident that we can reach our goals.
We look upon parenting as a challenge, not an obstacle; we are committed to our children and don’t take the job of parenting for granted. We seek information and help when we need it. Of course, we like to show our babies off (What parent doesn’t?). We are rightfully proud of them, not ashamed, and we know they are not dolls. We love the individuals they are, and we are excited and pleased to see them grow and develop.

We are excellent role models for our children because we are working hard to attain our goals. And… our children are not doomed or deprived because we are young. They are happy and smart and loved and cared for very much. You’d see that if you really took the time to observe before you judged us because of our age.

So–please don’t talk about us as we pass. If you are so concerned, talk with us and listen.

If you are a parent, you’ll find we share many of the same concerns, joys, and challenges.

Be role models for us–save your negative comments and your unasked-for advice.

Give us information and good access to birth control. But remember that a high percentage of all pregnancies are unplanned, and some of these will be teen pregnancies. All the posters in the world will not make us go away.

You can help us do our best by continuing to provide us with emotional and educational support–peer support groups and programs that help us stay in school make a difference in our lives.

Support quality subsidized child care programs so that we can work and/or go to school. Support parent education and family recreation programs that are affordable, with child care onsite.

Support temporary shelters for women with children ­as we struggle to become independent we sometimes need a safe place to stay for awhile.

And most of all, acknowledge and appreciate us for our commitment to the challenging job of parenting.

We know who we are.

We are building good lives for ourselves and our children.
We can struggle and do it alone, or you can lend us your confidence and assistance.

You can continue to view us as statistics or as part of an epidemic social problem, or you can look beyond the stereotypes and know us for who we are…

We are young mothers, each of us with our own story and our own dreams.