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.
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!