Monthly Archives: May 2015

What A Teen Mom Needs To Hear

So many things going on in the head of a new mother, how much more a teen mom? Teen moms have to combat stereotypes, negativity and sometimes the stress of being a single parent. It is a lot to carry around for a teen. Many may find themselves isolated from peers and circles they used to belong to. Because they are now caring for their child, it can feel like they just don’t belong among former friends or other teens. I felt this way. I felt a strange sense that I was different. It was always with me. I still went to parties, I still went to prom and other social events, but the fact that I was now a parent never really left me. If I went out at night, I still had this lingering feeling in the back of my mind that when I got home, my son was waiting. In some ways it was good for me. I avoided heavy drinking and drugs thinking,

“What if my son needs me? I can’t be high unable to get sober. I can’t afford to end up in the hospital or worse.”

Although I sometimes benefited by default, being a teen parent isolated me from the majority of same aged peers. Unfortunately, adults and teachers can also cast a judgmental light on a young parent. Even within my own family there was such a high level of ignorance and apprehension. They didn’t see what I had faced at school and the pressure I was under. They simply judged and held the assumption that I was bad. I must be. I got pregnant at 15 – good girls don’t do that, right?  Even though some people in my family and society never made a rude comment while managing to fake a smile at me and my child, their opinions were crystal clear. They lacked compassion and the ability to sincerely support me, a young lady, who had endured being victimized by her peers and culture. People on the outside did not know nor understand my story, yet they felt sure I was worthy of shame for the sake of tough love and being taught a lesson.

beach2

So there I was, feeling all this. Different. Isolated. Hurting in so many ways with no real loving wisdom to commune with. The reality of growing up was still on me. I still was experiencing the pressure to be successful and make something of myself. I still had competition in my family and fellow teens. They were all making plans to graduate and go onto college. They were getting jobs and talking about moving out on their own. I was thinking about my future also, but I was doing it as a young parent. It was a lot. Priceless how as human beings we have the ability to survive and find a way.

I distinctly remember one of the ways I stayed encouraged. It was going to visit my Grandfather on Sundays. Ever since I was very young, my mother’s family had gotten together on Sundays after church for lunch. It was a casual get together, you never had to call ahead. Every single Sunday, my Grandfather opened his home to all of us. There was always a simple lunch of sandwiches or hot dogs on the grill, and there was always coffee with cookies for dessert. We talked and visited.  I was grateful for the familiar faces and to be fed, but that’s not really why I went.

At the end of every visit when we said goodbye, my Grandfather would give me a big hug and say, “You’re doing a great job!”

My Grandfather was known for his bear hugs. I had been receiving them as a parting right ever since I was a little girl. When we were small, we would all giggle in his arms after a giant squeeze and his “good-bye – I love you!”. But his message to me changed after I became a teen mom. I love you was still implied, but now he made sure to speak these words of power over me every time we met, “YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB!”.

I do not know if I can convey in this post what that did for me. I am not sure if my skills as a writer are up for the task, because when he spoke it, I didn’t believe it. I was so broken and overwhelmed, so isolated and alone; I really could not accept that I was doing a good job. This is true even though I had never given up and was doing my best. If I was doing a good work, why didn’t it feel better, easier?  I needed to hear his words. I went back again and again, Sunday after Sunday, just to hear that steady voice of optimism over my situation. I went just to hope he was right, just to be assured one more time. It was like a life line. It was like if someone in my world doesn’t believe in my chance to make it out, I won’t. Thank God for my Grandfather. Thank God for others like my Teen Mom mentor at school, who was another powerful voice I had to speak hope and confidence into our lives. This is what a Teen Mom needs to hear:

You’re doing a great job!

You can do anything you set your mind to!

There is hope for you and your child!

Keep going and keep chasing your dreams!

1 in 3 American girls will become pregnant by age 19, do you think you might come across a Teen Mom in your grocery store or at the local library? 1 of 10 babies born in the U.S. is born to a Teen Mom, do you think your children and grandchildren will have companionship with these kids as their peers in school? What about at your Church? If statistics tell us you will likely have a connection with a Teen Mom in society, can you make a conscious choice to support her with one word of encouragement? I hope so America – Together we can change the risks to these vulnerable families. #PleasingAbba

In Case You Missed It – May 22, 2015 – Racial double standard in Waco coverage, suicide increases in Black children

I am a supporter of the decriminalization of all recreational drugs. The science coming out of Columbia University unwaveringly supports the need for drug law reform. Please take a moment to view this brief lecture by Carl Hart, it is priceless to the American people.

Psychology Benefits Society

In Case You Missed It header

In this week’s In Case You Missed It (a roundup of articles related to psychology, health, mental health and social justice collated from multiple news and commentary websites) we cover the racial double standard in media coverage of the Waco shooting compared with Baltimore, launching of a new Police Data Initiative, the sharp increase in suicide rates among Black children and more.

Make sure to also check out these APA publications:

Waco coverage shows double standard on race – CNN.com

What could be an iconic photo in the making drew some sharp contrasts between law enforcement treatment of perpetrators in Waco (potentially guilty of the murder of 9 people) and treatment of individuals in Baltimore following Freddie Gray’s death, contributing to conversations in news outlets, blogs, and social…

View original post 992 more words

Date Rape & The Top 5 Ways To Avoid It

Victim unaware of plan, predator has a plan

    I was so unaware I was being set up. I was so ignorant to the gossip of the young men at my high school. I had no idea how entering high school would expose me to more people than I had ever managed before in my social life. I was unaware that the popular crowd of guys actually planned and boasted about which girls they wanted to have sex with; that they had a bet going on who could get to me first. I was a virgin. I was 14 years old. I had no way of understanding or competing with the mindset of my male counterparts. I was innocent to all this. I was an adolescent, still a child when in came to sexuality and what that even meant. This is normal. The real issue is that I was being exposed to sex and I had no real understanding of it.  Middle school was my first introduction. It was a limited word I had heard from my peers, but it was still happening around me. Entering into High School in a new town only increased my level of contact with peers who were sexually active.

I was alone, without the company of a trusted guide to help me navigate something I did not understand but I was facing daily. My parents had abandoned the time they would’ve spent with me, preparing me to face this world of peer pressure. I, in turn, abandoned them and the so-called respect & honor I was supposed to give their rules. I threw myself into school and my social life. I enjoyed most of what school had to offer apart from sitting at a desk for long periods of time. It had been made pretty clear to me that school and good grades were very important. Building my college resume was pretty much the pinnacle of my existence for high school. No one told me I was one of a kind, created for good works. No one explained to me I was more than a body with a soul, but that I was a Spirit destined for eternity. The repeated lecture that I was simply to remain a virgin until marriage, just because it was wrong not to, wasn’t enough information for me to stand my ground against multiple predators. And once they realized I was an open target, lacking a protective hedge of a watchful guardian, it was over for me. My fate had been sealed, their game had begun.

sad

Date Rape is real and I am going to say it happens a lot more than we know. I experienced date rape when I was only 14, the summer before my freshman year. I never talked about it. I never told anyone. For over a decade I believed it was my fault. That simply because I said yes to a date with a graduating senior, that somehow what had happened was my doing. So I sank into silence. I hid what happened down deep in a dark place in my heart. I was ashamed. It made me feel awful. I had simply been used and victimized by a guy from my high school. I saw myself as unworthy of respect from young men, simply because of the way this one person treated me. I needed counsel and help, yet I really didn’t feel I had any adult I could confide in. My mother had tried to shame me into not having sex. I love my mom and I get why she did it. I believe she really did want me to remain pure and abstinent, but the shame theory proved more lethal in this regard then at all helpful.

When I really need unconditional love and open arms, I felt sure I would receive anger and shame

Even from my own parents who were responsible to teach and train me. To be fair, there really wasnt this type of adult at my high school or church setting either. I needed to be told I could be a target. I needed to be told that some guys would ask me out just to try to have sex with me and that was the only reason they were asking me out. This fact was alone not enough, I then needed a plan on how to respond. I needed an adult helping me to decide which dates I should say yes to and which ones I should say no to. It’s too much for a new teen to manage. I needed counsel.

The really sad part of date rape for young ladies like myself, is that if somehow I could have told a responsible adult, the outcome of the next decade of my life could have been much better. If a caring person could have heard what happened to me that night, they would have helped me understand it was in no way my fault and in no way OK. I accepted being raped and it in turn affected how I allowed men to treat me for years afterwards. I do not want this to happen to anyone else.  Always know that no matter what has happened to you, bringing it into the light will cause healing. In telling your story you are yourself saying what happened is unacceptable and wrong. This is the first step. This is why I am telling my story and choosing to combat date rape.

 Top Five Tips for preventing Date Rape:

1. Stay in a group

 If this person is a total stranger or you are new to knowing someone, only agree to go out with a group of people – the more the merrier! Even if this is the most well-known individual in your high school and you have known each other for years, I still recommend Group Dating until you are of legal age. We all act differently in public and staying accountable should be a top priority if you want to achieve success.

2. Stay in populated areas

Busy restaurants, venues, movie theatres; think crowds. If date rape is the intention, your date will be trying to get you alone and seclude you from others.

3. Avoid alcohol and using recreational drugs

You are going out to meet another person and get to know them. This is definitely worthy of you keeping a sober mind. According to the University of Sciences: “74% of the perpetrators and 55% of the victims of rape within a nationally representative sample of college students had been drinking alcohol (Koss 1988)” Keep this in mind when you’re dating.

4. Always tell a trusted friend who you are going out with and where you are going.

Even in a world of GPS and technology, nothing compares to having a reliable friend or family member hear from you what your plans are and when you will be back. This person can be a safety friend that you can call in case of an emergency during the date, one that is willing to come and pick you up. So many times if I had only take this step, I would have had an immediate out for bad situations. Always tell someone where you are going and who you are going with.

5. Have a trusted mentor you can confide in about dating and turn to incase of rape.

I hate to say expect the worst and that is not what I am promoting, only that you have someone you can talk to. Never keep silent if you are the victim of rape. If your believe that you are mature enough to date you need to be mature enough to be accountable to the people who value and love you. Parents, teachers, mentors: They are doing what they do because they care. Find someone you can trust and open up to – this may not be your parents because you feel too intimated.

 

Facts about date rape:

From National Studies Of College Women

* 84% of women who were raped knew their assailants.

* 57% of rapes occurred on a date.

* 25% of men surveyed believed that rape was acceptable if: the women

asks the man out; if the man pays for the date, or the woman goes back

to the man’s room after the date.

* 33% of males surveyed said they would commit rape if they definitely could

escape detection.

* 84% of male students who had committed acts that clearly met the legal definition

of rape said what they had done was definitely not rape.

* 75% of male and 55% of female students in an occurrence of date rape

had been drinking or using drugs.

* Only a quarter to a third of women whose sexual assaults met the legal

definition of rape considered themselves rape victims.

* Many women do not report or characterize their victimization as a crime for reasons

such as embarrassment, because they do not want to define someone who assaulted

them as a rapist, or because they do not know the legal definition of rape.

Many women blame themselves.

* Nearly 5% of college women are victimized in any given year, meaning over 4 years

one-fifth to one-quarter of a cohort of women may be assaulted. Similar numbers

experienced attempted rape.

* The majority of rapes occur in living quarters–60% in victim’s residence, 10 %

in a fraternity, 31 % in other living quarters. Off campus victimizations also took

place in bars, dance clubs and work settings.

* 50% of high school boys and 42% of girls said there were times it was

acceptable for a male to hold a female down and physically force her to

engage in intercourse.

September 2005

References

http://www.usciences.edu/shac/counseling/daterape.shtml

http://www.k-state.edu/media/webzine/Didyouhearyes/daterapefacts.html

How Do You Cope?

Coping. We all do it. Some off us face more challenging situations than others. I find myself in a room with my adult peers and I can’t help but wonder, “How would she have faced motherhood as a teen?”. As we grow we face more and more difficulty in life. Experiences change the way we think. You learn how to cope with what life throws at you. You begin to wonder, how do others cope, or how would they have handled what I went through? So much stress can ensue a teen pregnancy. A young person may have to shut down mentally and not really process what is happening. Unable to work out frustrating feelings, a teen can become angry, isolated and even self-medicate through a variety of options. Food, alcohol, drugs, pills: all can be used to escape the pain that reality has now become.

 In high school I was very much focused on my social life. Starting a family was never an immediate want or desire. I was really into my dance team and everything that was up and coming for a teenage girl. I did not want the responsibility of caring for a baby, or anyone else for that matter. I was self-focused, pretty normal for a young teen. For those that choose to get pregnant because they are wanting a baby, it still may be a shocking experience to go through pregnancy, birth and care for a new life 24/7. Looking back, those first weeks were the hardest. Close friends from my teen mom class at school confided in me they also had similar frustrations. I was so tired after having my first, I was alone in caring for him, and waking up with a new baby was very difficult. I had never gone without sleep. I had no idea how maddening it is. Had I talked with seasoned moms about caring for a newborn, I would have at least know my feelings of helplessness and exhaustion were normal. That is of course why I’m writing about it now, because over the years I have learned some things about coping with stress – what works and what does not.

I will always suggest educating yourself on a subject. Read up on postpartum. Get familiar with the stages you and your baby will go through. Take a class. A local organization in my area offers infant massage classes (for free!). I need to check this out and write a post, because it is a great example of a tool you can use to cope. Once you have learned about the stages of your baby, you will be better equipped to recognize what’s right and wrong. Be prepared for the no sleeping. Set up help if you have it available through family or friends. Ask a friend if she would consider spending some nights at your house to give you a break or plan for sleep time during the day when help is more available. Nap. Naps are so key. You may not want to hear that taking a nap is now a part of your life and success story, but learn from me, they do you so much good as a mom. Proper rest keeps you balanced and calm. You can avoid so many stupid regrets sometimes simply by realizing you feel off and need to rest your body before you try to tackle something else. Nutrition goes hand in hand with rest. I’m sure you will get plenty of reminders on nutrition throughout pregnancy, just be sure to continue healthy habits after you deliver. You can cope with the stress much better when your body has the nutrients it needs to function. I recommend smoothies. Keep extra fruit around by purchasing some frozen. I also keep dry milk in the pantry. It adds extra protein to the shakes, and is inexpensive compared protein powders. Just like the right things do your body good, toxins do your body bad. Staying up all night to hang out or party, binge drinking, heavy drugs/pills:

All these things may offer escape, but ultimately will make you weak.

 Being social and networking among the right people will benefit you. We all need relationships to feel whole. Excessive partying is a waste of time and will absolutely affect your ability to parent and be successful. Wouldn’t you rather invest your time and energy in something that will bring you life long benefits?? How about developing a strong bond with your child, one based on love and trust – or putting in long hours of hard work to get your dream job? Be smart with coping habits because what you choose now will most likely set the stage for how you handle future stress.

Joy? Bliss? Simple. Starbucks, my man and all my children strapped in their car seats.

Joy? Bliss? Simple. Starbucks, my man and all my children strapped in their car seats!

Now that you’re thinking about taking care of yourself, let’s talk breaks. I am still shocked by my feelings and emotions some days. I can feel completely happy playing with my kids and enjoying life one day, and then become totally overwhelmed and hyper sensitive to stress within 24 hours. My point is that never trust your feelings as your reality and sometimes you just need a break. I have good news for young moms, while having a responsible sitter rocks for some time away, you can take a break without a babysitter! I have a large family now and it has been a challenge to find one person to care for all my children. It takes a very special individual or multiple adults for me to have time away. Needless to say, I do not hire a sitter often. I do, however, have regular coffee dates. My husband and I strap all the children in their car seats and go for coffee. My favorite is Starbucks. I get out of the house, I don’t have anyone climbing on me, I play some good music and it stimulates my joy. I got some good advice from a mom of 4 when I was sixteen. She told me that she regularly would feel overwhelmed when the baby was crying loud and long. Whenever she began to lose it, she would put the baby in the crib and walk away for a few minutes to calm down. She would get her favorite drink (her’s was Coke) and give herself a moment to compose before going back to care for the baby. It was her way of coping and keeping everyone safe, without yelling or losing her peace in front of the kids. Sometimes, I have learned, simply changing your scenery can change your outlook. Taking a walk or getting out into nature by going to a park, keep these ideas in mind if you are feeling irritable or depressed. You can do this! If nothing you seem to try is helping, be sure to reach out to a your doctor or family for more resources. Never Isolate! #NoTeenShame #PleasingAbba

Public Education in America: Raising a Nation Without Morality

Martin Luther stirred the world with his bold stand against the Pope and the known leaders of his time. With one letter, the reformation had begun. Christian against Christian – the war was bloody, brutal and long. Most people know and understand that this was the beginnings of migration to America. Europeans were in search of a land that offered a chance to worship and live as one saw right in their own heart, instead of the experience of religion dominated by government. Fast forward to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Religion was such a touchy, personally discerned topic among the many colonists, that our forefathers’ knew they could not give any one church authority over education. Education was not even mentioned in our first governmental documents. The revolutionary war had left the newborn United States $75 million in debt. It would be the 1830’s and the industrial revolution that would spark a mass movement towards free public education for every American child.

State copied state and one by one communities with public schools emerged. Laws were written and taxes were assigned. From the beginning, and for over one hundred years after, the Bible was a part of the curriculum taught across the country.

school

Today we have come so far as to ban the Bible and most religion from public education. This is all done in the name of “separation of church and state”. Interesting that we as Americans fall for that one.

—Jefferson wrote, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

A simple read on the first Amendment to the Constitution will again show my earlier point, the goal of the document’s authors was to eliminate any one church from having power over the state, not to completely do away with the tolerance of religion in daily life. This was to assure all citizens the freedom of Faith.

Not without consequences do we bring up generations of children in a system that is forbidden to teach and debate morality and spirituality. I can’t help but think of the large numbers of school shootings and terrorist attacks on home soil we have seen in the past ten years; have we forgotten to mention the value of human life to our young people? Have we missed this important lesson, are we not making it clear in public education? I propose that children survive what is forced upon them to the best of their ability. I purpose that we are failing to prepare our youth if we cannot train them to have a moral compass. Because I myself grew up in this system. I was exposed to my peers becoming sexually active when I was 12 years old and in the seventh grade. I was exposed to drinking and drugs, simply because I took the bus to school like I was told. Then when I became pregnant at 15, everyone turned on me like I had really blew it. When I became involved with the use of alcohol and drug as a part of my high school social scene, my best possible future was compromised. Statistics of failure were attached to me everywhere I went. It’s wrong and I’m telling you it’s wrong. Those who possess the authority must also take up the responsibility. We must be willing to help our children through peer pressure and bullying by offering them an understanding of good and evil, right and wrong. The youth of America need a solid sense that choosing good pays off. I am not against public education, by no means. I am asking for parents and educators to take a good look at what children are facing. What I’m calling for is better education. An education that treats the whole child: body, soul and spirit. We have advocates for proper nutrition and parents would shudder at the thought of sending their children to public school without some type of planned source for physical nutrients – Yet no measures are in place for their spiritual needs? With all of our modern technology, resources and the progression of our understanding, how can we not advance? America, how can we not respond to the call for help from our youth? #pleasingabba

“About 77 percent of teen pregnancies are unplanned. In other words, they are unwanted or occurred “too soon,” according to a national survey of adolescents.[6] In 2010, the majority of pregnancies to adolescent females ages 15-19 in the United States—an estimated 60 percent—ended in a live birth; 15 percent ended in a miscarriage; and 30 percent ended in an abortion.”

References

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_church_and_state_in_the_United_States

https://archive.org/details/publiceducationi00cubbuoft

http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-health-topics/reproductive-health/teen-pregnancy/trends.html

Combating Shame and Other Akward Questions

Maybe you are like me. Perhaps finding out that you are pregnant and you want to keep your child has turned your life into chaos. You’re not sure how things are going to work out and maybe you are feeling some regret – or a lot of regret. I really wanted to escape the consequences of my actions. I had been pretty careless doing whatever I wanted. Now that those voices of “sex can wait” were right, I was really hurting. I was embarrassed, overwhelmed, even scared. But I have to tell you, all of these feelings were different from shame. See, I felt remorse because I couldn’t perform under the pressures I had faced, and I had let my mother and family down. This is a natural response when we make a mistake. Yet always remember this point, mistakes are a part of being human and living. No one escapes this. When people try to shame you for making a mistake, it is just flat-out wrong. If you are facing teen pregnancy, rejecting shame from your peers and society may be something you have to confront often.

shame

It was hard enough facing my new world being pregnant, but being judged and questioned felt unbearable. I didn’t want to talk about my situation. I definitely didn’t want to explain myself either. People are curious and gossip is enjoyed, but this was definitely one of the worst parts of being a teen mom: Facing rude people with nosey questions. To tell you the truth it still happens. When people ask the age of my children, I usually get some kind of further probing questions that follow when my first answer doesn’t satisfy.
In many ways I have gotten used to it, but I definitely carry myself differently then I did when I was a teen mother. As young mothers, be prepared and know your worth. Own your current situation with responsibility and self-forgiveness for any mistakes you have made. Know that when people come at you with rude put downs or demeaning questions that they have no reason to ask, they are in the wrong. You have every right not answer questions that make you uncomfortable. Truthfully you are more than worthy of love and support. Do not feel bad about giving yourself time to adjust to your new life as a mom. Maybe you will not get the kindness you deserve from everyone in your reach of the world, but you can choose to embrace it where it is available. Support groups, social media, your family or friends, a teen mom community where other moms get what you’re going through – all good sources to fuel up on love. Soak up all the support and positive material you can find. Be ready for stereotypes and judgment, just never accept them for your life.
I heard a wonderful speaker from the civil rights era give a talk recently. She had lived and worked in a time when she had good reason to fear judgement and cruelty. She pursued her education and, step by step, she had lived a successful life. She said something that day that struck into my core,

“Never let others make you feel inferior, let someone else wear that label.”

How many times as a teen mom did I put my head down and wear what someone else said I was? I was hurting and overwhelmed, unsure and stressed out. I needed support, not judgement. Let’s strive as a culture to end the hurt. #Youngmamas, keep your head up! #pleasingabba

Need some suggestions on how to respond to rude questions or people? I found this post to be helpful:

 http://www.levo.com/articles/lifestyle/12-comebacks-for-dealing-with-rude-people

Juggling Education with Teen Motherhood

You are a teen and you are having a baby. What about your education? I had my 1st child in the summer time in between 10th and 11th grade. My mother had done some research and found an alternative high school which catered to young mothers. (Even if you gave birth during the school year, moms were allowed 2-3 weeks of absence.) A teen mom program at a high school location provided on-site day care for our children with the opportunity to continue our education and complete our high school diploma. This was an opportunity I was willing to embrace because not becoming a drop out was very important to me. I truly believed with all my heart the best thing I could do for my son and myself was obtain an education. I knew how harsh the world was. I really didn’t want to lend any help to our defeat. I would get a diploma, not a GED, because it really meant something to me.

I realize not everyone will feel the same about staying in school. To be honest, once I became older and started a family I questioned if I had made the right choice to pursue my education instead of taking time off to just be a mom. (So) What are the important things to consider? Will you be solely responsible for the provision of yourself and child? Even if you have help from a partner or family, as you get older you likely will need to earn a living. Maybe you will only need part-time employment. Most young mothers have to consider providing at some point. Focusing on your education while you are young will be a great investment for more $$$ sooner. I think it motivating to stay in school with peers of your own age. It helps to feel you are on time and on schedule. With online schools available, it really is easier than ever to get a basic education while you are still a teen and earn a diploma. This is a point you will hear me repeat often:

Once you complete your education, no one can take it from you.

Its yours! What you invest in yourself and mind will always be there within you. So even though it may be hard work, I believe it is worth the effort while you are still young. Life will move on. You will too. This is the time to focus on your education. There are so many resources available with the internet! Local libraries will allow you to use their computers, printers and scanners for free. When you have access to YouTube, Skype, Google hangouts and online classes – there really isn’t a reason to skip educating yourself. I had a hard time staying at my high school after I became pregnant. My friends and peers were not dealing with the same things I was. I understand walking away from your current situation for mental stability, and to get some space from bullying and gossip. Yet I would still encourage you to go forward as planned with completing your basic education; Then considering more formal job training afterward. Trade, skill, craft, business all have mentors and internships. Maybe a formal classroom setting won’t work best for you and your new baby. I’ve found that when I put myself out in the world looking for options, I tend to get a lead. If you are a young mom interested in being educated and responsible, that is bound to open up doors. I want you to see yourself able to be both a young mother and financially secure. When you have that sense of stability, it creates the best environment to parent in.

juggling

I cannot talk about continuing your education without discussing the care of your baby. In order for you to work on your skill sets and ability to earn money for living, you will need to place your child in the care of others. This is the most important aspect of your new life as a mom. No one can look out for your baby and love them the way you can. I think mom and baby staying together as much as possible is the best. But because most young moms will need to earn money to support their child, even if only for a season, you need to take special care for their safety and well-being while you are away. Look for options. Be willing to think outside “normal”. You can manage most of your education and you can access a world of opportunity from the comfort of home. When you begin looking for childcare look for a safe place that has checks and balances. Are there video cameras on site? Are they always functional? Do other adults come and go throughout the day? Is there more than one adult available to keep an eye out for your child’s safety? I used several different styles of care. The place I felt best about was a teaching facility with large tinted windows available in every class room for parent viewing. This school also had and used cameras in the classroom as well as on the playground. I felt that at any point during the day I could show up and I was welcomed to see my child. Because I was a young student/mother, I also qualified for financial aid which paid most of my son’s tuition. Do not be intimidated by the cost of good child care! Simply ask about grants and aid for every place you research. Again, now that you are a parent you must juggle multiple responsibilities that cannot be compromised. You need to make money, and you need to get your education, but the care of your baby must come first. When I was going through this, I got caught up in being young. I was running around for my social life, my education and part-time job. Almost twenty years later, I do not see or hang with ANY of my friends or peers from that time frame of my past – Yet my son is still my son and one of the most important people in my world. Learn from my experience and spend as much time as possible investing in your relationship with your baby. Make your education a priority, but always keep your child first. Aim high, young mommies, you have what it takes to succeed!