I recently joined cafemom.com, an online site for moms to connect. This site has many groups for different types of moms; Current Events, 20-Something Moms, Full-Time Working Mommas, etc.
One particular group that I've found very interesting is the "Young Moms (16-25)" group. I joined this group thinking that there would be more women in my age range (at the high end of 16-25), but have been surprised with a lot of posts and discussions with teenage mothers.
Now, I understand that shit happens and it's every person's decision (I have a few friends who were teenage mothers - some are doing well, some aren't), but one post really left me feeling disturbed. In this post, a 16 year old was talking about how her and her boyfriend (who is 17) had thought they were pregnant and got very excited but then discovered that it was a false alarm. She then continued to discuss how disappointed they had been that they weren't going to be parents and how they were in love and had jobs and were now trying to conceive.
Just in case your brain couldn't comprehend that last sentence, I'll paraphrase it for clarity: A teenage couple is deliberately trying to have a baby.
When I found out I was pregnant I felt like a piano had been dropped on me. While deciding to keep him was the easiest decision I had ever made in my life, the year following that decision was probably the hardest year in my life (thus far). I was single, waitressing (because of the economy I had difficulty finding a professional job in my field), and barely able to make ends meet. I lost some friends (though I gained some friends as well), and was often lonely. And I was 22, with a college degree.
Being a mother is not something to jump into lightly. It is hard, it is time consuming, it is messy, and it changes your life forever. A good example of how time consuming being a mother is: It has taken me three days to write this post.
So how young is too young? I know plenty of women my age who think they're too young to be parents, as well as plenty of women older than me who think they're too young as well. Yet there is an epidemic of teenage mothers. Most young girls don't plan to get pregnant while still in their teens, but then make the decision to have a baby when they're really still babies themselves. It hardly seems fair for an innocent child to be born into a life where their parents (or parent, as most teenage mothers inevitably become single mothers), will never be able to provide for them as well as their older counterparts.
Yes, I know that every girl who gets pregnant that young says the usual line about how they're still going to go to college and have a successful career, etc, etc. But let's be perfectly honest; that very rarely happens. Most of them end up working in restaurants, or retail, or another such low-paying dead-end job with no benefits.
Before you write me off as a snooty bitch, I do know two single moms who are in college. One of them was 19 when she got pregnant and dropped out of college. She is now almost 22 and works her butt off (both at her job, at school, and at home), and still has about 3 years left until she gets her degree. My other friend is 26, will be finishing her degree later this year, and is exhausted 90% of the time. Her son is three so she obviously can't get any studying done while he's awake, so she waits until he goes to sleep. Often she's up until the wee hours in the morning, and is then woken up at seven every morning by her son jumping on the bed.
So, yes, there are exceptions to the rule, but (as the word exception implies) the majority of teen moms don't progress their education past a high school degree. many times, in fact, because of a combination of having to take "maternity leave" from high school and being exhausted, like all new mothers are, they end up dropping out or getting a GED (which I've heard lovingly referred to as a "Good Enough Diploma".
Why would anybody go out of their way to chose this life for themselves and their unborn child? I am very pleased to say that there was not a single person who commented that this was a good idea; most of the comments consisted of "I love my son/daughter more than anything in the world and absolutely do not regret him/her, but I would never recommend that anybody chose this life on purpose."
Hopefully this poor lost girl will heed our advice and chose to live her teenage years as they should be lived; care (and baby) free.