Teen Mom – 4 Ways to Support

Teen moms have gotten quite the time in the spotlight with shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom OG in the last decade or so. I have always felt conflicted about that exposure because while it was good to expose what being a mother young was like; it also exploited these girls at one of the most vulnerable times in their life.

My concern for teen moms is rooted in the fact that I was a teen mom myself.

Teen mom, African American seated at a kitchen table holding belly and smiling.
AP 17 years old 5 months pregnant December 2002

My experience as a single teen mom definitely shaped who I became in good and bad ways. If there is one thing I can say; I was fortunate to have amazing support from unexpected sources.

Today I’d like to share 5 ways you can support a teen mom on her journey so that it doesn’t have to result in a negative outcome.

Don’t Humiliate The Teenager

One of the things I always appreciated about my mom was that while she was disappointed; she never made me feel horrible for making a choice that led to pregnancy. I can only imagine the hurt she must have felt knowing that my life was altered forever.

However, she immediately made sure to tell me she’d be there for me, she bought me books about pregnancy, she shared her own experiences, and always made me feel loved. That was important because I was not capable of loving myself at the time. I was so depressed and sad about putting myself in the position to get pregnant. Her love and her refusal to kick me while I was down meant more to me than she will ever know.

Help Them Balance Being a Teenager & a Mother

It’s no secret that becoming a mother shifts the trajectory of their childhood. For a minimum of nine months their bodies will alter what they’re able to do. After birth, they will be consumed with learning their new responsibilities.

It’s important for them to learn their new role as a mother, understanding the accountability for their actions and ensuring that they’re capable of carrying out their duties. However, if you can babysit every once in awhile so that they can get out of the house and have a social life, it could really help keep them emotionally and mentally grounded.

Being pregnant as a teen can create a sense of isolation with good reason. If you can provide a teenage mother with some relief so they’re able to sustain healthy friendships and social activities; it can really combat the effects of postpartum depression and beyond.

Reassure Them That They’re Worthy & Capable

Being a mother is hard as an adult; but it’s even harder when you are just a child and still developing emotionally and mentally. Reminding your teen that they’re worthy of love, of support and understanding is so important. They still need to be commended when they do a good job, especially with tasks involving their baby.

Teen mom, African American, holding her 1 year old child at doctor's office. The child is smiling with a pacifier in her mouth.
AP with her daughter at age 19

Be patient with them and try to refrain from throwing the fact they have a baby in their face as a means to discipline them. Positive reinforcement is a way to ensure they’re applying their new skills with taking care of a baby properly. Remind them that they don’t have to be defined by the choice that led them here; but also to learn from this experience so as not to repeat the same choice in the future.

They Still Need You to Be Their Parent

Even though a teen mom is a mom; they’re still a teen and still need you to be their mother! A teen mom will need your guidance and direction just as much now if not more. They still require boundaries, discipline, nurturing and love.

If you are a mother of a teen mom, no doubt you are probably disappointed. However, you still love your child and want the best for them and would do absolutely your best to be their parent as you always have.

In Conclusion

As the mother of a teenage girl, I can only hope she makes wiser decisions than I did as a teen. While I love my daughter, if I could do it again, I wouldn’t become her mom until I was much older. However, the things that helped me be able to be successful at parenting as a teen mom was the things I listed above. I was fortunate to not only have my mom but the grandmother of my daughter as support.

Our young girls deserve to be loved and cherished even when they make mistakes. If you have the power to impact a teen mom (even if it’s not your teen) do it! You have no idea how much you can help them.

Teen mom, African American, all grown up with her teenage daughter sitting next to her.
AP & her daughter present day.

Until next time,

AP Young signature with kiss print.