Category Archives: Teen Pregnancy

Missing The Father of My Child As A Teen Mom

It was the winter of 1995. I was 15 years old and due to have my first baby that summer. Terrified to my core, I knew I had no real relationship with the man who had got me pregnant. I was facing the total upheaval of my life without a partner or even a responsible party. I was deeply ashamed. Everyone seem to be involved in my personal life and the drastic situation I found myself in. As the truth came out about my pregnancy, so the relentless questions followed. Mostly, all had one primary concern:

“Who is the father?”

It was known to most that I wasn’t involved with anyone. It was known to me that the last few months had consisted of a some scattered interactions with men that could basically be summed up in the term One Night Stand. I was enjoying many aspects of being in high school, but finding a serious relationship among my peers, in a town that I was not from, didn’t work out for me. Similar was the occasion when I met the father of my first child. We hit it off right away, but it wasn’t a relationship I was able to mentally maintain. He was a young man juggling college and fraternities. Our worlds were separated. He called for months after our meeting, I never returned one call.

My life from that time went on, slowly but surely. I adjusted. My mom and I moved back to our hometown area only weeks after finding out I was expecting. Just like that, I had a clean start. My mother handled much of our care. She was the real backbone for my son and I those first few years. While I am grateful, I still struggled. I knew I didn’t have what most couples did when they fell in love, got married and started a family; I didn’t expect that. I just desperately wanted the father of my child in our lives, regardless of where that would lead for me romantically. The birth of my son made everything new in a way that went beyond dating and being in love, I was now part of a family. It was a family that felt so very incomplete without the support of a co-parent. Many times over the next decade of my life I wondered and thought about this missing man. After things settled I considered trying to find him, but it was too late. I knew too little about him and we no longer had mutual relationships. I stressed, I suffered, I wept – but I did all alone. I felt as though it was a load to heavy to bear. I hadn’t gotten pregnant by myself, so why was I solely responsible for my son’s needs? I got my first job at sixteen, graduated on time from high school and then college. We moved out of my parents home when I was 18 and my child was 2. We seemed to be coping, but there was always a hole, especially for my son.

The toughest part about being a teen mom was facing those questions. This was never more clearly covering over all my undertakings then on the days that those questions were asked by my child. To be alive and not know who you come from is an isolating pain that I can only imagine. I saw how my son longed to know his dad. My answers to his inquiries were too brief and empty. I could not explain to the heart of this little boy why every else had a dad, but he did not. I could only offer him my faith in God. I could only answer with utter certainty that I knew everything would work out for the best in the end. That God had intended for me to be his mother and we could trust Him for our future. My son is grown now, and I have never once regretted my choice to give him life. I do know now from experience that the role of a father in a child’s life is invaluable and cannot simply be replaced or over looked. No matter how little the involvement, we must instill in our youth the immeasurable value each of us play as responsible adults and parents. We are needed.  It’s time to rethink manhood and what that means coming of age in America. We need to place a higher value on the stability of the family and the integrity of a gentlemen. Sexual liberation in our day in age is costing us something: The emotional wholeness of our children and subsequently the moral stability of our nation. Fatherhood is that profound! With communication and unity we can make that difference.

Author Bio

 My name is Jennifer Hoge. I am a woman of God, the wife of a fearless American and a homeschooling mom to seven. I blog to encourage teen moms and change the negative statistics surrounding teen parenthood. I self publish to fund my adventures, 3rd book due out summer 2016. #Amazon

Body Image

This may have been the most important topic I faced as a Teen Mom, or should I say, I was really into my looks. I think most of my friends were similar, but I had begun modeling school when I was twelve and I had been trained to be very aware of my look, walk, clothing and make up. I studied fashion. I learned how to prepare my mannerisms and voice. I did some work as a young teen, for L’Oreal as a hair model and representing Liz Claiborne’s newest line for a fashion show project. My main goal after graduating was working full-time as a career model once I turned 15. Like most girls in the modeling business, 15 was the age you moved to New York and started working. My path changed when my family and I moved to Jacksonville, Alabama half way through my eighth grade year. By the time I was turning 15 and completing my freshman year, I was emotionally invested in my high school. My dance team and friends were everything to me at that point. I mean, I lived and breathed high school and its social scene. Half way through my sophomore year, I found out I was pregnant. My life was thrown into chaos. Plans changed.

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I barely gained any weight at first, about 10 pounds the first 5 mouths. This changed once I moved back to Michigan and began attending an alternative high school with a teen mom program. I no longer had to hide my pregnancy, I began to use food as a comfort. Pregnancy is exhausting and I was experiencing it for the first time. I was still going to school 5 days a week, I never dropped out. I would usually crash as soon as I walked in the door. My mom and I stayed in a furnished condo while we house hunted, leaving the rest of our family behind in Alabama to wrap up loose ends and sell our home.

I could make excuses about the 50 pounds I ended up gaining as a teen mom, but apart from it being a super stressful season in my life, I was really uneducated about nutrition and weight gain during pregnancy. I was not monitoring my weight, even though I was regularly attending check ups. No one offered me diet help or said much about it. I gained a lot of weight quickly in the end, when hunger was the most intense. I was therefore left with a lot of weight to lose and, of course, I wanted to lose it very rapidly. I had my son in the middle of July and was due back at high school only weeks after giving birth. I was desperate.  I began a very restricted diet, even though I was breastfeeding. One day, walking down the stairs in my parents house, I began to black out. Luckily, I caught myself and sat down before completing my decent. That experience freaked me out and I learned I could not continue with too few calories. It was unhealthy. I could not starve myself and care for my baby. I did lose the weight, I am glad to say, but it took about a year – to a year in a half. It happened when I decided to go on vacation for spring break with some girlfriends to Fort Lauderdale. I joined a gym, gave up fast food and eating take out, and I finally lost that last 15 pounds that had just sort of lingered.

I’m now in a similar position as I battle off yet another round of excess body weight right after having a baby. I am older and caring for many small ones, so losing weight has become a science for me. I have to be smart and I have to find things that work for my ever-changing life and schedule. I did some research for this post recently, which I really enjoyed. I have made managing my weight a lifelong ambition, after all, once a model always a model. I am always wanting to look my best. Here are some things that have worked well for me:


I recently studied up on detoxing the body. The only problem was you can not detox during pregnancy or breastfeeding. But you can detox naturally. Avoid foods that don’t mesh with your liver like high fructose corn syrup and MSG. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water everyday if you are trying to lose weight. I like to use wide mouth mason jars to help me achieve this. I fill one with ice, a squeeze of lemon juice, a teaspoonful of raw honey and a dash of sea salt for electrolytes. It is a treat! The honey comes through in bursts and I enjoy it more than pop, which I have vowed to cut out of my diet. Of all the things that are easy to do to care for your body, drinking enough water has the added benefits of making me feel great and giving my skin a nice glow.

 I find Plus models convey a much closer vision of the real women I see everyday. Be careful, especially when looking at  photo shoots which are airbrushed and edited – selling an image that doesn’t really exist.


I have been a walker all my life. I have been a runner, I have done 2 hour cardio sessions at the gym multiple times a week. Zumba, Dance, weight training class for a year, as well as, Pilates and Yoga. In all my workout searching, nothing has given me the results I crave like yoga. I was surprised, too. I only tried yoga during my second pregnancy on a whim, to pamper myself. I continued in it for the relaxation benefits it immediately brought into my life. Never did I expect it to transform my body in the ways I had been wanting, all those years before! A close second to yoga is Pilates. Pilates has given me quick results! I love Jennifer Kries method Pilates, its my go-to routine whenever I need to trim down my waist quick. For yoga, I was fortunate that my first instructor was from India. She was taught by her father from a young age and she was very knowledgeable. You can pick up some good techniques in a class setting and then continue to practice in your home. Working out at home is a must for me. I live in a region where weather is too harsh for several months out of the year and I need a plan that cannot be sabotaged by money needs or babysitter assistance.

Liver care

I have recently become aware of the powerful role our liver plays in weight loss. Certain foods and toxins regularly consumed can foil attempts to loose weight via exercise. This goes for alcohol, prescription and recreational drugs (never stop taking a medication without consulting your physician). We can care for our liver by numerous healthy foods like garlic, ginger, beets and coffee. We can drink lots of water. We can simply learn about liver care and make it a priority. If you have struggled to lose weight, this may be your problem. Oil pulling, salt baths and dry brushing are all techniques you can google to aid in liver health, All are safe for breastfeeding mothers, too! I have been doing all three for a month in preparation for this article, as well as drinking half my body weight in water. I can say that the most dramatic difference is the appearance of my skin. It glows, especially after the oil pulling. I have also lost five pounds, and do to a hectic writing schedule, I have barley had time to exercise this past month. I really credit the weight loss to the liver care regiment I have begun.


Cardio burns calories and fat and feels amazing AFTERWARDS (NOT DURING). Cardio oxygenates every internal organ! Cardio activates the lymph by invoking gravity. Our bodies were made to move.The latest science in health care is linking muscle atrophy (not moving a muscle for extended periods of time) to a majority of diseases that plague humans as they age. Get moving and keep moving. Throughout your life, cardio is necessary.


Keep a Food and Measurement Journal

I have learned this over the years. Just like anything, being organized and informed is key.

We hired a midwife for my second pregnancy, and it was my first experience with a midwife. They offer a much more personalized care plan than I was used to receiving and I loved it. One of the first things my midwife required of me was a food journal. She told me I could take a vitamin, but it would be better to get nutrients from my food. I wrote down what I ate everyday for a month and, WOW, did I eat better when I had to put it in writing! Using a scale and taking measurements are the same, in that you are tracking your progress and being aware. The times I gained too much weight in my life were times when I avoided the scale or didn’t own one altogether. Measurements are important for properly ordering clothing online, which I do a lot, and it has been helpful to keep track of my changes over the years. I always record my bust, waist and hip, thigh and upper arm. (I learned this in my weight training class). My measurements have generally been the same through all my postpartum months and I can see how long it took me to lose inches in the past. Knowing I have been successful before encourages me I can do it again!

Limit sugar

I have had great success by simply measuring my daily sugar intake. 40 grams per day is the standard consumption for sugar. This breaks down into 4 teaspoons equal 10 grams of sugar & 16 teaspoons equal 40 grams. 16 teaspoons is a lot of sugar, by the way. When I measured out my sugar for coffee and kept ingestion strictly under 40 grams per day, I lost weight and kept it off.

All of this equates to my main message of this post: Love Yourself! Now. Right Now. Just as you are. Because as women that have babies, our bodies are going to change. You can love yourself and take loving care of your body. You will feel better for it and you will look better, too. People will notice! Embrace your body. Love your body. You are a one of a kind stunner. Have the right body image by being the best version of you and not looking to society or media to dictate true beauty. True beauty is right in front of you, staring back from that mirror! #fight #love #TeenMom


Disclaimer: The previous tips are my opinions.They should not replace medical advice.

Breastfeeding Normalized

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To be a teen mom In 2015 means it is more convenient than ever to breast feed.  America has put breastfeeding through the ringer and history tells of many agendas or cultural norms that dictated whether or not a woman nursed her newborn baby. I myself was fortunate to give birth as a teen mom during a time when nursing was encouraged in the delivery room. I was actually really uncomfortable breastfeeding as a teen. I was feeling very humiliated about being pregnant. I really didn’t understand much about what I was going through. My body was still foreign to me, in so many ways. How could I share my breasts with my new baby? It scared me and made me uncomfortable in a way I just wanted to run from. I was selfish and brand new to motherhood. Yet when my son was born and the attending nurse prompted me to try breastfeeding for the first time, I didn’t resist. I had been told how important a mother’s breast milk is to a newborn. I knew that even if I only nursed for days, it was greatly beneficial for my son’s immunity. So I yielded. I nursed my son the best I could for about a month. Unfortunately, that first lesson I received in the delivery room was the only one. Once home I never developed the technique of a good latch. Healthy newborn babies have what I call the death grip latch. It is intense and you have to understand how to properly latch your baby to your breast. If not, the pain can be unbearable. That was my experience. I nursed, but when I experienced pain I gave up. I was planning on continuing my education after I had my son. I was due to return to high school 5 weeks after giving birth. This in itself was stressful. As a teen mom I had the option of nursing my baby at school. I would be called out of a class to nurse as my baby required. My high school had a teen mom program for girls like myself. They made it possible for mom and baby to be on location together for different parts of the day and cared for by childcare professionals the rest of the time. Girls could get a high school diploma even though they were going through pregnancy and motherhood. Me, personally, I could not handle the embarrassment. I was so awkward as a teen mom breastfeeding,

but I really want young moms NOT to feel the way I felt at 16!

I say this because breastfeeding is such a profoundly beautiful experience. To be snuggled together as mom and baby; warm, soft, perfect. Your body makes the perfect food for your newborn! It’s as supernatural as the baby forming within you. You should continue to be healthy and exercise and take vitamins and watch your weight – just as you did when pregnant. This means sacrifice, but it is sacrifice you will be most glad you made. Especially as you watch your child grow into a healthy, secure being – you will treasure the time you spent breastfeeding.

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I have since had the privilege of nursing all 7 of my babies, the longest time frame being 18 months. As with my first, I have transitioned to formula with some at different points when I could no longer breastfeed. I also simply supplemented a meal for the luxury of having a break due to exhaustion. (Sometimes my teething babies would prefer to stay latched on for hours to comfort there growing mouths) As with every aspect of your mothering, do not allow people to shame you for however you choose to feed your child. I strongly recommend joining a Le Leche League support group in your neighborhood. You can attend during your pregnancy to build friendships and a support system before you give birth. This was one of my favorite experiences as a mother! I will always treasure the time I spent with other breastfeeding mammas, It was that awesome! Breastfeeding rocks! Go for it! #teenmom #pleasingabba

Where Are The Boys?

A recent article I read reminded me of an important truth I faced as a teen mom. It was this really cool article in Lens on – “Teenage Motherhood in Latin America” written by David Gonzalez. Really interesting, to me, because it was research from the field on a topic I am most passionate about – teen moms and their real life stories. As I looked through some of the photographs shown for the article from the collection entitled “Teen Mom”  ( I was saddened. I felt compassion for these young girls. I recognized the look in their faces and behind their composure: They were experiencing the unknown, they were in a struggle. This gifted photographer, Christian Rodriguez, spent time capturing images of birth and then the following day. He also wanted to shed light on the poverty some girls were coming from by photographing them in their homes. It is a powerful work that shows the reality of teen sex. This story reminded me of a detail I had overlooked in my own writings, a fact many of these young mothers are combating alongside stereotypes and poverty. It was noted in this article that,

“At a Montevideo hospital where he photographed the girls in labor, the majority showed up with their mothers, as the boyfriends had long left the scene.”

As I read the words I was overcome with the familiarities of my own background. I knew I faced birth alone, but the thought never occurred to me that the majority of teen moms do the same. I was so moved by the sheer poverty and lack of support these girls were facing in Latin America; giving birth in a plastic bed with plastic sheets, a line of nursing students watching their every contraction and pain induced cry. Alone. No boyfriend or spouse, just their mother. I too walked into labor and delivery with my mother when I was only 16. She was the one who went to Lamaze classes with me. She waited on call those last days and she was there as I gave birth. I saw this in my teen mom program at an alternative high school as well. Out of all the teen moms, few still had contact and support from the father of their baby. The boyfriends/fathers were long gone.


Over the years I have had the opportunity to have some men talk frankly with me about this topic. More than one have confessed that after sex a man walks away free and clear, only the females are left to face the consequences of a child. That perhaps it was unfair, but that this is the way it is. I always thought these types of attitudes that dismiss the male role in caring for an unplanned pregnancy and child to be a complete cop-out.

Anyone can walk away, but we are still ultimately responsible for the life we create

How can anyone have a child in this world and just not care? How can the majority of boys and men really believe it is not their concern, or that it is okay to simply have sex with a female and leave aftermath behind? I believe many do care. It’s time to stop using the excuses and demand more from our boys. It’s time we raise them to understand sex creates life and it’s a huge responsibility. Lifelong issue can come with sex and we can no longer afford to cast the full load upon our teen girls, their families and the government. This may mean having more difficult conversations and holding our young men accountable. This may mean taking a more active role in who are daughters spend time with and holding those individuals liable if an unplanned pregnancy occurs. Where are the boys, free world? More importantly – where are their leaders?

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.


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

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.


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.”


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.


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:

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.


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.


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!