Being a teenager and finding out you are pregnant can place enormous amount stress on a young woman and her family, especially if the pregnancy is unexpected.
Teenage mothers face many challenges & one of most significant long-term implications is not completing their education. This lack of education can result in an inability to be employed, long-term unemployment or job options that are poorly paid and not secure. This leads to financial pressure and emotional stress that comes with not having enough money, adequate housing and not being able to afford basic necessities.
Unfortunately, there is also still a lot of unhelpful stigma in society attached to being a teenage mother. For some reason we judge teenage mothers so much more than their peers, when in reality choosing to stay a parent as a teenager is one of the bravest decisions a young woman can make. Instead of judgement, we should be encouraging & supporting these young women to get adequate antenatal care, complete their education & learning the skills that are necessary for caring for their child.
Negatives attitudes towards young mothers can erode their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. Having these negative attitudes directed towards teenage mothers does not make it easy for them to continue at high school. There are only a couple of programs set up in high schools across Brisbane that support teenage mothers and mums-to-be and they do an incredible job supporting and mentoring young women. Yet, we need more. Research shows that if teenage parents get the chance to continue their education, it will make life more manageable and successful for them and their children in the long run.
So what can we do?
Judge less and support more is definitely one of the keys to seeing teenage mothers complete their high school education. Let’s remove all judgement and champion young woman on as they navigate the journey of being a teenager, attending school and preparing for motherhood.
If you are reading this and have just found out you are pregnant or you are a teen mum-to-be struggling to attend school, I encourage you to speak to your parents, a teacher, school nurse, or a safe adult that you feel comfortable talking with. Having people in your world who you trust and are non-judgmental is extremely important, as you navigate through the journey of teen pregnancy and parenting.
“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela