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Teen Parenting on OPB's Think Out Loud

It is not every day that I catch anything on OPB these days, but this morning the stars aligned and I heard an interesting Think Out Loud show on teen parenting.  Here's how OPB describes the show:

What is it like to be a child with a child of your own? In Oregon, between 2004 and 2006, 5,263 teenage girls became moms. One in ten of the babies born were fathered by a teenager as well. This is how we are used to hearing about teen parents -- as unsettling statistics. In the third installment of our As We Are series, we'll explore some of the stories behind those numbers by inviting three teen parents into our studio to share their experiences.

What is daily life like for these teens as they become parents (long before the world considers them grown-ups)? The data tells us that many of them drop out of school, but how and why do they make this decision? If they stay in school, how do they juggle the responsibilities of academics and parenting or books and breastfeeding? Who can they turn to if their own parents can't -- or won't -- help them out? How do babies intersect with the already complicated world of adolescence?

There were two very different guests and some interesting call-ins.  One thing that really struck me was the enormous difference in these young mothers' own parents.  If you weren't listening in at 9 AM, you can hear the rebroadcast tonight at 9 PM or listen at your convenience here.  And of course you can comment on the show's blog any old time.

Did you hear the show?  As a middle-aged parent (there, I said it), it is hard for me to even remember being a teenager, let alone think about parenting during that volatile, self-centered time. 


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I caught the show, completely by chance. I thought it was a very interesting topic to tackle, and yes the two girls seemed to be at the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of their experiences as teen mothers. LIstening to the girl with the involved mom, and how mature she sounded, I would hope to be that kind of mom to a daughter who had gotten pregnant as a teen. Sure the mom was disappointed, but she supported her daughter's choices.

It was a good show...I wish there could have been a few more girls (or boys) to hear from on the topic.

Being a teen mom is hard. I work in MN with pregnant and parenting teens in North Minneapolis and I focus in a school that is only for girls that are pregnant and parenting. My clients ages vary from 12 to 17. 12 is such a hard age and then add pregnancy hormones and it spells trouble. These girls are forced into growing up so fast.....Developmentaly I feel most are not ready. To me, including the extended family is a must. Do I see sucess, of course. Do I have to call child protection, sometimes (which really sucks). These girls know that they have to perform above the "bar" and realize that people are judging them related to their age. They have a hard job. Sometimes I wish that the world could allow these girls to "relax" with their kids. Allow the kids to have messy play and not be judged afterwords. Make more breastfeeding friendly areas that allow for privacy for those teens that are modest. Create more schools with daycares inside the school........

I am curious about schools with daycare. I remember recently hearing about the school that there were so many teens getting pregnant that they were worried about a pact. The school helped the teens sooo much with daycare and support that many girls felt it was okay to be pregnant. Ann, is there a chance that a daycare in school would increase the rate of teen pregnancy? Certainly not my area of expertise, just a question?

As the granddaughter, daughter, and sister of teen parents - - I felt a bit defensive with the interviewers line of questioning. Instead of being part of the village it takes...She seemed to be asking them to defend their choices. Another 'grown-up' saying, "What were you thinking?" Teen Mamas too often have to become second class citizens in order to be first class mothers.

My mom and dad were 14 and 17 when they became parents. They were married for 15 years and had 3 daughters.
Where older parents may have more patience or financial security, my parents had endless amounts of energy, enthusiasm and empathy. I definitely had the 'cool parents'. My mom has been a photojournalist, archaeologist,freelance writer and the editor of two papers. We lived in Europe and Central America. And I still grew up hearing tsk-tsking and tongues clucking.
I think that as a community, the best thing we can do for all of us, is to empower young parents to be the best that they can be.

I have to second Ann and Lea here. Teen parents are young people who have made the choice to step into adulthood early, and I have a hard time with the suggestion that we take away supports that will help them attain the very credentials to be "respected" and considered fully adults by the rest of us.

When a young woman makes the choice to keep her baby and become a mom (a choice each of us has made, in one way or another), she is probably more aware of the stakes than you or I can correctly comprehend.

I felt like the show, while an interesting concept, was in some ways another example of the us-and-themming of our culture, and specifically of the sub-set of mother culture. Sit down with a teen mom sometime, and I guarantee you you will find more common ground than was evidenced on the show.

My younger sister became a mom at 19, and five years before I had my own first. I can't begin to tell you how much I have learned from her, about parenting, about balancing kids and life, about the capacity to get stuff done with a kid around. She spent two years in the work force, got her BA and just recently completed her MBA. All as a single mom. And yes, she had some supports that other mothers didn't have, both familial and financial. When she noticed this, she launched a non-profit to help teen moms without those supports pursue higher education. While she was getting her MBA and parenting a first grader.

Yeah, we do some things differently, and our day to day lives are wildly different, but we are both mamas in love with our babies, with unique sets of challenges and gifts.

I am sort of ranting here, but I just think it's important to remember, as we are discussing this stuff from a safe and sociological distance, that these are families like yours and mine. And our kids might all be friends at school someday.

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