When we think of a teen mom, most of us TV show junkies think of the reality series of the same name. We've all seen (or at least heard of) the MTV reality series 16 & Pregnant and the spin-off Teen Mom. Part of the struggle that we have seen is having a baby in high school when the mother is still a baby herself. Many people believe in the whole "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage" idea, and agree that it seems easier to start a family when a person is older and has a more stable lifestyle.
Is teen motherhood as hard as it looks on the show?
Regardless of age, there are many things that parents go through and can relate to. A newborn is always going to cry and needs lots of love and care. Likewise, a toddler is going to be toilet trained, learn to talk, walk, and figure out how to handle their emotions. But, when it comes to being a teenaged mother, there some aspects that are more specific.
Like all things in life, there are pros and cons to having a child in high school. While most would suggest teenagers to wait for parenthood, life is unpredictable and there are pros and cons to both.
20 Advantage: Stronger Than Yesterday
We all go through different experiences and would rather not be judged by others, but we know we're going to hear some rude comments somewhere down the line. That being said, one advantage of being a teen mom is that the experience can make you stronger.
A teen mom shared their inspiring story on Reddit: "It really impacted my self-esteem as you can't help but believe that everyone is judging you. I would not change it though, I think needing to overcome that and prove to others and myself that I could make me stronger in the long term. My son is awesome (as are his brothers) and I have no regrets about having him."
19 Disadvantage: Free time? What's that?
One disadvantage of being a teen mom is they're not finished with school yet; whether that's high school if they're under 18 or college years if they are 18. And since they have to make some money to take care of their new family, they could end up working and going to school at the same time.
As this teen mom shared on Reddit, "I got pregnant at 17, had him when I was 18 (and his dad and I got married at 18). My son just turned 20 and I often think back on the early years." She continued, "It was hard, we both worked and went to college when our son was first born."
18 Advantage: When mom and dad help out with your kid
Having the support of our parents can make a situation better or worse. For teen moms, whether or not their own mom and dad supports them and are able to help out can really affect their experience of young motherhood.
That was the case for this teen mom: she posted on Reddit, "I'm sure money would have been a larger problem had it not been for supportive parents. We never had to live on scraps or be homeless. Having the safety net of supportive parents also let us live less stressfully."
17 Disadvantage: Nobody wants the mom with the baby at a slumber party
High school is an innocent time where you want to hang out with your friends, go to the mall, see a movie, eat junk food, and just be young. That definitely changes when you become a teen mom, though. It seems like many teen moms feel like others are judging them and saying mean things, and it can really affect your friendships.
As Seventeen magazine reported about a now 23-year-old's experience with teen motherhood, having a baby that young can really change your social life. She wrote, "It's the amount of stress, the lack of support, and the stereotypes that come with being a teen mom and trying to prove people wrong. Nobody wanted the mom with a baby at their slumber party."
16 Advantage: You Have A New Purpose
A blogger mom talked about being a teen mom on Mom Babble and her words are so inspiring. She wrote, "At the end of the day, after wiping snotty noses and endless nights of listening to a crying baby, it’s worth it. My daughter gave me purpose. She helped me figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life."
One advantage of being a teen mom is just that: it could make you think about your future and maybe you're able to make those kinds of decisions earlier than you would have if you hadn't had your child.
15 Disadvantage: High School Hardships
Did anyone have an awesome time in high school? Many people say that it's anything but the best years of your life, Students may come into their own after not really knowing what their purpose was, but those four years are typically filled with drama, stress, and puberty.
For some teen moms, high school is tougher than the norm (being pregnant can be part of the problem sometimes). That was this teen mom's experience; she wrote on Reddit, "I've been a mother since 13 (21 now). It was hell. High school is bad enough, but add being the first one to be a parent to the mix and I was harassed most my time in school."
14 Advantage: When people think you're siblings, not mom and child
"My all-time, absolute favorite part of being a young mom — and my dear, sweet daughter’s least — is when folks assume we’re sisters rather than mother and daughter," wrote this mom on CafeMom. When you're a young mom, you might get mistaken for being sisters instead of parent and child. This can be seen as an advantage because, most mothers want to appear young, and a teen mom doesn't really have to worry about that!
She continued that it's "a little, bitty silver lining, even if it takes a couple years and a lot of retrospects to see."
We know that this does happen; all we have to do is watch Gilmore Girls and see how often Rory and Lorelai are mistaken for sisters.
13 Disadvantage: Love, Interrupted
Relationships are hard, and having a child in the mix can make date nights impossible to schedule.
Being a teen mom can mean not having much time for your marriage or relationship. That's what happened to this teen mom. They wrote in a Reddit thread, "The worst part is I feel like it's taken an impact on our relationships. I've lost all my friends because I've been so busy between work and school, we never get to spend any time with just 'each other' because we have two small children now aged 4 and 2. We're so busy with work, kids, and higher education that I think if we were not careful, we could forget about each other altogether. For me, that is the hardest part."
12 Advantage: Becoming wiser than most your age
Everyone has hard times, and teen moms know that raising a kid at this age might be tougher than if they had started their family a few years down the road. But this can be a good thing; staying strong and doing your best is definitely something to be proud of.
That's the perspective that this young mom shared on Thought Catalog. She wrote, "At 26 years old, I have had more hardships then I care to explain, but I can always rationalize that things could always get worse. The experiences I face that are the hardest are always the happiest days when they are overcome."
11 Disadvantage: The Dating Game
We often hear that dating as a divorced parent is tough. You have to make sure that you are really serious about someone before introducing them to your children and that they would be a good *possible* step-parent. Because sometimes, the person that you're interested in doesn't want kids, and that can be tough to deal with.
Dating as a teen mom is another disadvantage because, since you're so young, your peers might not be ready for that responsibility yet. This teen mom wrote on Reddit, "The only thing I really hate is the fact that I'm raising my daughter alone. I'm young and no guy my age is interested in the girl with a daughter. So its looking like it'll be the two of us for awhile but I can't really complain."
10 Advantage: It helps you get your life together
Some teen moms found the experience to really motivate. They worked harder in school to graduate and succeed because they absolutely had to. They knew they had to be the best for their child, so they had no option but to succeed.
A now 36-year-old mom said in Seventeen magazine that becoming pregnant led her to pursue her education in a way that she hadn't before. She wrote, "When I found out I was pregnant, I had a profound and sudden paradigm shift. I realized my actions not only affected me, but that of the unborn child I chose to keep. I pulled myself together, started going to class, and making up credits. I ended up graduating on time with the rest of my class with a 4.0. I went on to receive a B.A. and a Master's degree."
9 Disadvantage: Food (And Money) For Thought
One woman was a teen mom in the 1980s and shared her story on Reddit, bringing up a very important point: being that young can mean not having enough money to buy food. It's a reality that many of us don't want to think about, but many have to face.
She wrote, "The biggest thing I remember is how hungry I was all the time. Toward the end, we were making a pot of black-eyed peas and cornbread and we would eat that freaking same pot of black-eyed peas for the whole week. Sometimes we would splurge of fried salt pork and fried cabbage."
8 Advantage: The help you get from the government
Many couples want to be in a stable situation—financially speaking—when deciding to start a family. It helps to have a steady income and some money saved aside. When you're a teen mom, this is just as important.
A dad whose girlfriend got pregnant in high school shared his story on Reddit, saying that they were able to get benefits which really helped out. He wrote, "The whole thing has had a massively positive effect on me, it made me determined to create my own success story I could tell my son. We had a lot of help as the benefits system here in the UK allowed us to live at a fairly decent but basic standard. Me and his mother separated by mutual decision but have shared custody and get on very well."
7 Disadvantage: Having to grow up... ASAP
We would all agree that when you become pregnant in high school, you grow up fast. You don't really have a choice in the matter; you're bringing a child into this world, so it's time to be responsible. That can be tough to deal with, however, since high school comes with its own bag of worries. As someone noted on Circle of Moms, "By becoming a teenage mom you have entered the realm of adulthood, you now have to make grown-up decisions and expect people to treat you a bit harshly."
6 Advantage: Growing Up Together
"We grew up together and I wouldn't change my son for anything," wrote a teen mom on Reddit. What a beautiful thing to notice.
It makes sense that if you're really young when you have a baby, you would be in the process of growing up. And since you're helping your child grow up, too, you can think of it as the two of you going through that experience together. That seems like a really nice way of looking at it. Maybe because you're young, you can approach things from a different perspective.
5 Disadvantage: A Feeling Of Wishing They Were Older
Every parent wants to be good enough for their children. This is true no matter how old they are when they learn that they're expecting.
It seems like many teen moms know that while, yes, they're good parents and have done the best they could, there is still that deep feeling... that wish in the back of their mind that they wish they waited until they were older.
A teen mom said on Reddit, "Also, even though my kids turned out great, I know I would have been an even better parent if I had been older. I had my son 3 1/2 years after my daughter was born when I was 22, and I was already a much better parent by that point, mid to late 20's would have been more ideal IMO."
4 Advantage: That Thing Called Sleep
There are two things that everyone knows about newborns and young children: their parents aren't getting the same amount of sleep that they were before starting a family. Kids are also very busy, always running around, playing, and having fun.
As Raising Children puts it, being a teen mom could mean being okay with the sleep issues and also having a lot of energy to burn: "On the upside, you might find that parenting comes to you quite naturally as a teenage parent. You might be better than older parents at getting used to the changes that children bring, as well as dealing with little or no sleep. And you’ll probably have lots of energy to keep up with busy children."
3 Disadvantage: Too early for all the work and responsibility
Are you ready to have a baby when you're still in high school? Even if you know that you want to become a mother one day, the chances are that you would like to wait until you're a bit older. Maybe you want to be a young mom but still figure that waiting until you graduate from college or are in your mid-20's is a better time.
One disadvantage of being a teen mom is definitely not being ready or prepared for the responsibility. One teen mom said on Reddit that this was their experience: "Obviously some social aspects were affected, def not mentally ready at 14, but have awesome family that helped a lot."
2 Advantage: Learning to make the best of the situation
Raising Children mentions the different ways that a teenager could stay in school and make some changes in order to finish their high school education. A teenager could finish at home, take fewer classes, or not attend the entire school day.
It might not be something that we think about, but a teen usually has options. After all, it's going to be really difficult to go to school every day and have a newborn at the same time, and if you're the one looking after your baby all of the time, and your parents or other family members aren't able to look after them during the school day, that's something to take into consideration. While it wouldn't be easy, it seems that there are ways to make it work.
1 Disadvantage: Too Young To Understand
Many teenagers might beg to differ with this statement but it's true: teens are still so young. They're still figuring things out and learning on their own. Becoming a teen mom can be difficult because you're not an adult yet, and that really sums up the experience of not having graduated high school yet but learning that you're pregnant.
"Looking back I think I was crazy. I was such a child myself," wrote a teen mom on Reddit. "I wasn't always a very responsible mom, and I wish I could go back and do many things differently. He wasn't neglected or anything but I could have done better."
Sources: Reddit.com, Seventeen.com, Mombabble.com, Thestir.cafemom.com, Thoughtcatalog.com, Reddit.com, Circleofmoms.com, Raisingchildren.net.au