Monthly Archives: April 2015

Teens Raising Babies: Supporting and Assisting Pregnant and Parenting Teens

Psychology Benefits Society

Young teen parents cradling infant daughter

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This is the fourth and final post in a blog series about APA’s ACT Raising Safe Kids (ACT-RSK) program. ACT-RSK teaches positive parenting skills to parents and caregivers of children from birth to age 8. Make sure to check out our first, second and third posts in the series. 

By J. Riley Bailey, PhD (TEEN+ Project Director) & Janon Wilson-Wilbourn, PhD (Lead Social Worker, TEEN+ Project)

Pregnant and parenting teens need support. They have to raise children when they are still children themselves.

They need lots of support, including social, medical, emotional, and academic assistance. The best help (i.e., help that is readily available from entities willing to assist in a reasonable, enlightened manner) generally comes from family, school, and community agencies.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s benchmark report, When Children Have Children, stated a major concern this way.

“One of the…

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How Do I Tell My Parents I’m Pregnant? Top 5 Things To Consider

One of the most difficult moments of my teen mom experience was telling my mom and family that I was pregnant. I was able to lie my way through what was really going on for about three months. To be fair, I was in complete denial and I did not know I was pregnant. But I did know that I had been sexually active, something I wasn’t ready to admit. So How do you talk to your parents honestly and openly, maybe for the first time?

Let us just acknowledge that it’s scary. Talking about your private life and relationships with a parent or adult can feel like there is too much of a gap for understanding. Maybe your parent(s) used scare tactics or fear based consequences when talking to you about sex in the past. Can I tell you from a parents point of view, this was done with your best interest in mind. Adults want to prevent trauma from happening to their children. Your parents have lived and seen struggle. They do not want that for you. Go into this talk knowing their feelings and emotions are rooted in wanting the best for your life. I know some teens may be thinking something like, “You don’t know my father” or “You have no idea what it’s like in my family”. I understand some situations can be harder than others, and I will give you my best ideas for handling those extreme cases. It will be emotional and it may be hard, but honesty is the only way you can move forward for the better.

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Bringing any situation into the light allows for the best possible outcome. Only then can you gather all the knowledge you need to make the best choices.

1. If you fear for your safety or you believe things could become too high stress, plan for the conversation to be in a safe place. Your church, school, or a family members home may be the best place to come clean. This allows for a cool down period knowing your parent will maintain a level of self control while in public.

2. Consider having a support person present. This could be a trusted counselor or group leader or coach. It could be a friend, but make sure it is someone mature enough to be neutral. Don’t turn this talk into sides. This is about being honest with people who are responsible for your provision and well being.

3. Do your research. Look into what support is available for teens/teen parents in your area. Be educated and aware of all your options, then present them to your parent(s).

4. Write it down on paper. One of the best ways to be prepared is to get everything you want to say out on paper and then take a step back. Have you explained yourself? Is there something you said that was unnecessary or hurtful? Be ready by making sure you’ve said what you needed to say in a clear manner.

5. Take a deep breathe and be patient with yourself. Talking to your parents about sex is not easy. You need to have a sense that what you are doing is for the best. Know that like any good choice, once you’ve made it, the rewards will follow.

Resources
http://www.judyringer.com/resources/articles/we-have-to-talk-a-stepbystep-checklist-for-difficult-conversations.php

Judy Ringer is a conflict and communication skills trainer, black belt in Aikido, and founder of Power & Presence Training and Portsmouth Aikido. Would you like free tips and articles every month? Subscribe to Ki Moments!

Who Am I, Why Am I Here?

My name is Jennifer. I am a wife and mother of seven. I was a teen mom, becoming pregnant at 15 and having my first child the summer following my sophomore year. I completed my education, fell in love and got married not long after graduating college. Working in retail management for less than two years, I started my first business designing Christian logos at age 23. I have a love of fashion with a modeling background.

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Homeschooling now for a little more than ten years, my life these days revolves around serving and enjoying my husband and children. I cannot lie, it has been a challenging path. At times I have stopped to question my choices. Dreams can be like that, elusive yet needed. I might have stayed focused solely on our family business and the education of our children, but one cold February day in 2014 – I once again had a life altering interaction with the Holy Spirit,

“Write a book about being a teen mom.”

“Really??” I thought. “Okay?”
Now I always dreamed about being a writer and getting paid to do it, but never did I consider writing about my teen years. Those years were ones I would have rather kept buried in the past. I could never really make sense of all I went through. My family and society had shamed me for becoming pregnant at 15.

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Yet now my spiritual journey as a Christian was leading me back to this dark place – to write about and published it. This is how my journey began. It has now become a passion, not only to justify my own past, but to shed light on a topic that is highly ignored: Teen sex and teen parenthood. This blog was created to share my experience with the purpose of branching out through the internet and social media. I want to reach teen moms and encourage them to accomplish great goals. After all, one bump in the road can’t stop destiny! I want to show them defying statistics is the only way plan for their future, as well as help them navigate the situations I found most challenging. Beyond teen mothers, I hope to touch all teens and parents. To make them think twice about peer pressure and dating, bullying and judging. It’s time to stop looking the other way, then shaming our youth for being victimized by their society and culture.  Its time to rise up, to be a voice for those most at risk. Calling all mentors and leaders, mothers and fathers: Our youth need us more than ever. #PleasingAbba


Dating, Sexting & Teen Culture

When does it begin for most young people? It can be a subject impossible to avoid in social settings. Age can vary from person to person but according to education.com, “As they reach the mid-teen years (age 14-15 years), they start having relationships with peers of the opposite sex”

So how does a fourteen year old “date” a peer? A relationship status change and chatting on Facebook? Texting? (I got notes. Do teens still do that?) Phone conversations? Possibly even hanging out? I remember one of my dates at 14 included meeting up at Subway in a group. As time went on, just like anything else, the stakes were raised. Homecoming, prom, spring break vacations – all things we did with a boyfriend or date. As a teen in the mid 90″s I was into cars and music. I wore a pager constantly in my front hip pocket and used a payphone to keep in touch. Many things were similar to what is still happening today, but two things that have changed dramatically are technology and social media. A simple Google search on sexting quickly reveals the high-profile court cases. Teens to adults are being prosecuted for capturing and sharing inappropriate images.

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I honestly cannot imagine what it is like to be a young girl today facing peer pressure to sext. On one hand everyone knows it’s a risk, on the other hand pressure makes us all do stupid things. In my middle school and high school years, I was caught off guard too many times to count. Boys/male peers would seem to be nice, but then make audacious requests that were always followed with relentless pressure. In some situations I simply ran away or got out of there as fast as I could. Other times I felt trapped and unable to say no. Maybe I had no desire to give in, but a nagging sense to fit in pushed me to do things I knew were wrong. Peer pressure is real. Bullying is real. If you’re a young girl wanting to date, be ready to fight off unwanted requests. Sexting has many consequences I fear young people are unable to consider under heavy pressure. Predators, haters and scorned X’s have the ability to share and pass images around the world in minutes.

Young people, think before you share any image of yourself. Think about your dream job. Would you want this image on your resume? Parents, if you are going to pay for your teens phone or PC then consider viewing their images on a regular basis. No unknown passwords or locked accounts. Teens, be smart and accountable. An adult looking over your shoulder IS NOT the worst thing, even though it may make you cringe. Teen dating means something different in this culture. It means you must be prepared, you must be responsible with technology and you must be mature. Crush on, teens. Dream big dreams for yourselves young people. Just be careful who you let influence you. Make a rule to keep selfies, and all images of yourself, for profile use and applications only.

The Clinic

I do not know if it was fear, self-doubt or the cruel way in which my parents had spoken to me that made me snap, but an unrelenting spirit took over my mind and again and again it began to confess, “I cannot do this, I can’t have this baby!” I thought of my dance team. It was January, basketball season was beginning. I would have to quit.

“No!”

I couldn’t imagine quitting my favorite part of school. My Mother had found out the truth about my pregnancy shortly after I had, at a physical check-up. Life had been filled with panic since that day. My mom and step-father said I would choose what course to take about the pregnancy. I approached my mother at the computer in her office.

“I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to have an abortion.”

The conversation needed to be brief. I felt numb. The need to shelter my thoughts from the stress was instinctual; I was in survival mode. There was no way to make out a solution in my mind. I was fifteen, in the middle of my sophomore year and everything revolved around my friends. I didn’t really understand my body, or sex for that matter. It had been something all my peers were doing. I was longing to find acceptance and sex was a huge pressure for those of us in the most popular circles. Naively, I believed pregnancy would not happen to me. My mother handled everything from there and before I knew it, the morning of the appointment had arrived. When my mom saw I was dressed in jeans she asked me to pack a comfortable change of clothes, some sweatpants perhaps. I was indifferent to my mother’s advice. I could only operate like a machine. I couldn’t think about what I was about to do. “I can’t handle it, I can’t have this baby!” I told myself and angrily marched to the car.

The clinic was across the state line. An average office building in an office park. Once there, I noticed women in nurse uniforms waiting out front to escort girls in. My heart sank into my stomach and I began to panic. “Please don’t let there be protesters!” I thought. “I’ll pass out!” Fortunately, we were able to make our way inside without any event. There were single chairs in rows not secured into the floor and a receptionist sat behind a glass window. Other young ladies were coming and going through the process as I was. Still in the trance of determination to save my “normal” life and image, I tried to ignore them. My mother and I were quickly called back to a private office. A petite women looked up from a large ornate desk. She was thin, dressed in business attire with some type of ID badge clipped to her suit jacket. She stood to introduce herself when we entered, then sat down and began the discussion of payment. Again I found it impossible to engage. I wanted it to all be over with. Like a bad dream, I wanted out. My mom assured the women we were able to pay cash. Once more we waited briefly, this time to be placed into an examination room which resembled the kind you wait in at the E.R.. Each room was really only three walls of fabric ran on a track. I laid down on the exam table. Soon an ultra sound tech entered, pushing a monitor on wheels. The tech said little and made no eye contact. She touched a tool to my belly with a dab of cold lubricant on the end and began to stare intently into the screen. As I felt the mouse inch slowly across my abdomen, I kept my eyes locked on hers. As if on a cliff I waited, hoping for any kind of information.

“That’s my baby she’s looking at..”

A small voice rose up inside of me as a single tear fell down my face. “That’s my baby, right there!” I could not see what the ultrasound tech saw. I could not see the image of my unborn baby on the computer screen, but in that moment my heart ached for my child. She seemed to have seen everything she needed, and abruptly ended the ultrasound to excuse herself. Soon after a nurse returned with the tech. The two women began to inform us that the baby was 13 weeks along and I was already in the second trimester of my pregnancy. The nurse explained how a normal abortion would no longer be possible. I would have to endure a two-day procedure. Her words hung in the air. We sat there in a state of frozen horror until once again we were alone. My mother looked into my face to scan my thoughts. “I can’t handle this! I just want to be put to sleep so I don’t remember anything!” I blurted out what my mind wanted with emotion and began to sob.

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My mom was calm and still. “I know,” she said holding onto to me, “But that’s not an option, honey.” It was as if this was the moment she was waiting for. I had to face the reality of my circumstances. In a peaceful relieved way, my mom seemed to know I didn’t have it in me to abort the baby. This was the break in the insanity were I had a way out. From the moment I had begun the day, I had just wanted it to be over. Now it was. There was no way to proceed as planned. We decided to leave before making a final choice.

I didn’t understand all the terms the nurses had used, but I understood what she had described. I couldn’t do that. It was too terrible! The symptoms of pregnancy and the return to the safety of my own room were enough reasons to go to bed early that day. As I lay in my bed pondering the future, I felt the presence of God.

“Jennifer, will you have this baby?”

The Holy Spirit was direct and to the point.

“But Lord, there’s no father, I’m fifteen…. how can this work?”

“I Will Be There.”

The answer came quickly. It was so clear, so certain,  I didn’t want to argue or question this voice of wisdom. Without any further reasoning, I knew I couldn’t deny God. “Yes!” I answered in my heart. A slow peace rushed over me for the first time in a long time. My thoughts began to wonder at motherhood and having a baby. Just like that my mind was made. No one would change it. No one would control my choice, fate was sealed. I would face many obstacles from that moment. I would lose my friends, social status and almost everything I had know as normal. Yet I would never question my choice to become a mother versus having an abortion. With every disappointment and heartache I came across, I clung to the promise of God. I carried it in my heart. I believed that the God of the universe would be with me and my child. Someday, somehow, it would all be ok.