The topic of teen pregnancy scares a lot of us. The possibility of your high school-aged son getting a girl pregnant or your teenage daughter announcing that she’s pregnant can feel unfathomable. No parent wants to think of her child as reckless, and television shows typically depict teen moms as exactly that: irresponsible kids who end up relying on their parents to take care of the child for them. But is this the whole teen mom story?
Circle of Moms member Veronica P., who had her first child just months after finishing high school, doesn't think so. She believes the stigma against teen moms stems from media portrayals that seek to dissuade teens from becoming pregnant:
"Not every teen mother is a high school dropout (I graduated three months pregnant), is on welfare, in an abusive relationship, is a whore, or is a crack head. These are stereotypes — because everyone prefers to look at the bad in teen moms instead of the many great teen moms out there."
So what are the teen mom stories we don't hear about? Here, teen moms explain why they took on motherhood at such a young age, and also why they love it — in spite of what the world thinks and says about them.
"I Have a Committed Partner"
One reason teen moms say they’re willing to embark on motherhood is that they have been in a committed relationship for several years with a supportive partner. Anita H. had been with her partner for a while before finding out she was pregnant: "I’m 19 and have a three-week-old beautiful baby girl. Her father and I have been together for almost three years, so when I got pregnant our friends weren't even surprised. Neither were our parents. They were a little disappointed at first, but they love being grandparents. Being a mother is hard work, but hey, what challenge in life isn't hard?"
Similarly, sixteen-year-old Jaylena G. says she was happy when she found out she was pregnant at age 15, and that she and her partner are still very happy raising their daughter together.
"I Feel Accomplished"
Not every teenage girl has the support of her partner or family when she finds out she's pregnant, but that doesn't necessarily diminish her capacity for feeling motherly love and duty herself. Kayla W., Amy L., and many other Circle of Moms members who are teens says they are working hard to graduate, get jobs and find a place to live in order to become responsible adults, both for their little ones and for themselves.
Kayla was 16 when she had her daughter, and says that she and her boyfriend got a house and everything else on their own. "My daughter is spoiled rotten and always will be. She’s a year and a half and already has more than I ever had, and that’s exactly what I want for her. Yeah, it’s hard sometimes, but it’s so worth it in the end!"
Amy declares: "I was 14 when I had my daughter. It was rough, but I managed to graduate high school early, have three more kids, finish my bachelors in business and (glad to say) at age 27 life just gets better. I'm proud to be a successful teen-adult mom!"
Ashley M. is also proud to have done everything on her own: "I'm 20 and I have two babies. My boyfriend and I have been the sole providers for our children since day one, and I'm proud to say we have never asked for help in raising our children."
Another teen mom, Laura M., had her son at 17. Now he's two, and she has been with his father for four years. Laura graduated high school, finished her accounting degree (which is what she wanted to do before getting pregnant), and plans to obtain a science degree next so that she can ultimately become a pediatrician.
"Motherhood Has Made Me Stronger"
The biggest reward of having a child early, say teen members, is experiencing the love between parent and child. Yes, everything in your life is changes, but it's for the better. Kimberley L., for example, who had her now six-year-old daughter at 19 and has raised her alone, says she wouldn't change a thing: "[My daughter] is a blessing [and] changed my life! Times were hard but worth it to wake up in the morning and see her smiling back. Just wait till she can talk. It’s amazing when they turn around and randomly say ‘I love you Mommy.’”
Another proud teen mom, Nicole H., says that when people ask her why she's a teen mom she tells them that she doesn't know where she'd be if she hadn't had her daughter. "What I do know is that if I were still on the same road I was before I got pregnant, I definitely wouldn't have a job, a house, a car... or any of the things I have today. She gave me motivation to do something with my life. I wouldn't change a thing," adds Nicole.
Maria B. has a similar, yet different story. She was an honor roll student when she found out she was pregnant as a teen, but her feeling of pride is just as strong. "I was 17 and in my senior year of high school. I was excited to be an honor student and get ready to go off to college the following year. My life changed the moment I found out I was pregnant, though. It wasn't something I planned, nor was it something that I thought would or could happen to me. I was kicked out of my mother's house, I had to leave school early and I didn't think my life could ever be better. I went into a deep depression. Today, I have my own home, car and college degree. I am happily married and have amazing children."
Getting through a difficult pregnancy with little support from her baby's father motivated 18-year-old Ashley P. to be a stronger person: "As hard as it's been and as sick as I was when I was pregnant (still got high blood pressure), I wouldn't trade [my daughter] for the world. I almost died for my baby, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I love being a teen mommy. I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Finally, teen mom Lissel S. shares that her pregnancy helped her not only become more responsible, but discover the loving support around her. It took her a full six months of being pregnant before she could confess to family members that she was having a baby. As she shares on Circle of Moms, she eventuallly did so, telling her dad, "I know you're disappointed in me. Trust me, so am I. All I want is to be your little girl and I ruined it."
She was amazed by his heartfelt reply: "You will always be my little girl no matter what you do. We will get through this together, and I could never be disappointed in you."