A place of empowerment and encouragment for teen mothers

Monthly Archives: October 2013



When I was 15 years old, I dreamed of changing the world. I don’t know what I was going to do—or how—but I knew that I’d make the world  better one day. I was a great student, and teachers always said I had a bright future ahead of me…until I got pregnant. I was in all honors classes, had a 4.0 GPA, but I was pregnant, and all the dreams I had were no longer going to be possible according to the adults in my life because well, I was going to be changing diapers instead.

Fast forward 11 years: I’m a 26-year old college graduate raising two amazing children. I’m employed by one of the most respected nonprofits in the world, and I’m pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Over the last decade, I’ve been busy working with organizations that specifically work to support young parents. I’ve become an advocate about the issues affecting women and girls, and I have taken part in the development of campaigns that seek to raise awareness of the discrimination that teen mothers still face.

Enter my most recent involvement: speaking out against the disgraceful campaign PSA’s developed by the Candie’s Foundation.

Recently the Candie’s Foundation released a few ads that seek to shame teen parents—especially teen mothers. I’m not a stranger to these kinds of ads. A few months ago, the City of New York released posters all over the city with images of children that were so inappropriate, the campaign sparked much debate. The Candie’s Foundation is doing the same thing by assuming teen mothers have reached the end of the road and have no future. A slogan in their ad, “You’re supposed to be changing the world, not diapers,” has raised a lot of controversy—and, in my case, much disappointment.

I was told that exact same thing by a person I love very much. She didn’t believe in me and felt so sorry for my situation. But contrary to this dismal outlook, being a teen parent meant that I was going to need a little more support and encouragement to meet my goals. I was going to have to take a different road to reach the same destination as my peers without children: success. It is frustrating to me to see adults, as our role models, set this precedent of judging others because of their situations. It saddens me that despite the fact that there are laws in place (like Title IX), people still look at these ads and forget that teen parents are people, too. The Candie’s Foundation and its approach are shameful because the message is that teen parents will not make any valuable contributions to their communities. If anything, these young people will be loving parents to another human being and that is an accomplishment on its own.

I will continue to work with a group of young mothers who, like me, are working hard in their communities to support teen mothers. These young women are bloggers, professionals, and community activists who, like me, had their children early in life. There are thousands of us all over the country and we’re all leaving our mark. As far as the six of us, we’re working hard to deliver a petition to the Candie’s Foundation and ask for these ads and these tactics to be stopped. We’re doing all this gracefully because after all, that’s what leaders do.

Lisette Y. Orellana is a Blogger, Girls & Young Moms Advocate, and Public Speaker


In 2003, I graduated from high school; my son was 11 months old when I crossed that stage.  As an 18 year old high school graduate there was pressure to grow up and pursue the endless possibilities that awaited me.  The difference between myself and most of my classmates was that by age 17, I already had to grow up because life was no longer just about me.  When I became a teen mom, the possibilities were different but they didn’t completely go away.  I knew I would be faced with more challenges than my peers but those challenges are what made me truly appreciate life and the goals that I have achieved.  Ten years later, I now have two children that look up to me, to give them strength, guidance and most importantly, love.  Today, I have logged out of school for the last time as an undergraduate student and I’m proud to say that I am a college graduate of Southern New Hampshire University.

It wasn’t an easy journey.  My priority role was to my children with additional responsibilities as an Air Force civilian employee and SNHU student.  My family and friends often took a backseat in my journey but always continued to encourage me throughout these years.  As each semester passed, I often struggled with seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and sometimes got discouraged because the light didn’t always seem bright enough.

The light is shining bright on me today!  As I prepare for graduation, flying to New Hampshire to be with my fellow classmates and my family, I can’t help but get emotional.  The odds and statistics are constantly against teen moms.  Only 2% of teen moms finish college by age 30 [1].  Despite all of the statistics that I was classified as at the age of 17, this is one statistic that I’m proud to say I’ve accomplished.  I became a college graduate at the age of 28.  I achieved my dream, I received a degree.

Thank you to my husband Joseph for encouraging me to go back to school and caring for our children while I was studying.  To my children who didn’t always understand what I was doing but who loved me no less.  To my mother for knowing that I could and would get a degree no matter what obstacles I faced.  To my grandparents and extended family for being proud of me and believing that I would do great things in life.  And last but certainly not least, to my friends for always encouraging me, especially my best friend Natalie.  Our 21 years of friendship is unlike no other.

Don’t ever give up on a dream, even if it seems unreachable.  My dream was to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and it finally happened!


1. How old were you when you got pregnant and what was it like when you told your parents?  When I got pregnant I was 15 years old. My dad has never been in my life so I still haven’t officially “told him”, he knows from my family. I was terrified to tell my mom so I went to my school counselor first. She told me to try and tell my mom or we could call her into the school and tell her together. I decided that I would tell her myself so she didn’t think that I thought I couldn’t talk to her. She was very angry at me, but she was very supportive and told me she was going to be there for me and my precious baby.

2. What kind of obstacles did you face as a teen mom and what did you do to overcome them? Being a single teen mom I had to get a job, a car, and grow up since I was on my own. I was a huge partyer before I got pregnant and all of my friends no longer speak to me since they were partying all the time. This was hard on me because they said they would always be there for me. My mom has many illnesses and is always in and out of the hospital. I am home alone with my son and taking care of my little brother, working, breastfeeding, and had to graduate high school.

3. What kind of education (HS Diploma, Some College, Bachelors, or Masters) and career do you have now?  As of right now I work hard and plan to graduate high school in December. I only have 4 classes a day because I took so many extra ones my junior year. I plan to attend our local community college in the fall so I can stay close to my family and keep my job.

4. What advice do you have for current teen moms? I want to tell teen mothers to always try your hardest. My journey has been extremely hard but it has made me into the person that I am today. Don’t drop out of high school because it is possible, hard but possible.

5. What’s your definition of success? My definition of success is having love and support near you and doing what you want to do. You don’t have to have designer clothes or the best of everything, just as long as you can find happiness in your life.

You can find Christyn here on Facebook


The night was one of beauty
and she knew it would be great.
The thoughts of fun and laughter
and most of all her date.

Her appearance was amazing
when she opened the front door.
A beautiful dress of blue and white
and the pretty jewelry she wore.

She was an attention getter
and with kindness she was known.
she was among the popular crowd
and yet she felt somewhat alone.

Perfection was expected
with the make-up and good looks.
She went beyond her limits
after reading romance books.

She thought, ‘Everybody does it! ‘
but it put her life to shame.
She struggled with the choice
and knew she’d never be the same.

Her hopes and dreams had vanished
after she broke the common rule.
It should have been after marriage
not as a curious teen in school.

She wanted to graduate
and go away with friends to college.
She had big dreams to be a nurse
and gain the proper knowledge.

Every day she pushed the stroller
of the bundle in her care.
She had much to do on her own
because the father wasn’t there.

She rose up with strength of heart
and she knew it would be right.
to make a better life for her baby
she went to school and worked at night.

Her baby was placed in good care
even though the cost was high.
The mother did all that she could
and she barely made it by.

The days and years passed
before she got her nurse degree.
Hope was not lost after all
and from debt she would be free.

There are many hardships
for teen moms everywhere.
Babies go up for adoption
but some stay in teenage care.

Whatever happens don’t give up
when everything goes wrong.
Accept the challenges ahead
with the courage to be strong.

Shelley Williams









PREP: 20 minutes
BAKE: 30 minutes
YIELD: 6 servings

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 (10-oz) can tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • Pinch chili powder
  • 1?2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup grated monterey jack cheese



For topping:

1 (8.5-oz) package corn-muffin mix

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray. In a large skillet, sauté onion and garlic in oil for 2 minutes.

2. Add chicken and brown, then add tomatoes, corn, chili powder, salt, and pepper to skillet and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into the pie pan, and top with grated cheese.

3. In a mixing bowl, prepare muffin mix according to package directions. Spread evenly over chicken mixture, and bake for 30 minutes, or until corn-muffin topping is lightly browned and filling is bubbling.


HOW KIDS CAN HELP: Sprinkle cheese; spread the corn-muffin batter on top.
PER SERVING: 376 calories, 15 g fat (5 g saturated), 1,082 mg sodium, 83 mg cholesterol



As they see me walking
With my son in my arms
They glare, insult, and fail to see the whole picture
They don’t see the dedication I have
Towards raising my boy
And making sure he knows, just how much he’s loved
And they don’t see the sacrifices I have made
To be the best mother I can
And make a good life for us
They aren’t there for every scraped knee
Every tear shed
Or anytime my son needs a hug….. I am
They don’t see how much I care
That I’m doing things right
They don’t see the unconditional LOVE
I have inside
For my son and the person he has made me
They don’t see how parties and a weekend out
Have turned into trips to the park
Baby feet kisses
And bedtime stories
They don’t see how school dances and the carefree days of my youth
Have turned into watching cartoons on a cloudy day
And knowing the constant worry that being a mother brings
They don’t see the quiet times
The cuddly times
Early in the morning
When I sing ‘good morning to you’ softly in his ear
They don’t know how
I see the world
Through a mother’s eyes
Every day I see something new
Something I was unaware of before
They don’t see how
My son coming into my life
Has changed me into a better person
A happier person
Happier than I’ve ever been
Its sad…..they fail to see the whole picture
Still, I am ridiculed and judge
Because I’m a teen mother
Its sad…..they fail to see me

midnight butterfly

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