Thursday, April 4, 2013

Domestic Enemies of Teenage Mom

Ever since we started this series, we've been getting requests for this post. There are a lot of young moms out there who deal with a lot of Judgey McJudgersons. Please remember to keep your comments respectful, even if you don't agree with the author.

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People often say to me, upon finding out that I have a teenager, “You look too young to have a teenager.”  And they are right, I am.  I had my daughter when I was 16.  However, even after all these years (my daughter is 16 now), I still feel a bit of shame when I see the reactions of strangers finding out I was/am a teen mom.  


And I know I have nothing to be ashamed of. I have raised a beautiful, responsible, funny, intelligent, compassionate daughter. And I wouldn’t change that for anything.  What I would change though, are people’s perception of what a Teen Mom is really like.  

Below are some of the most common things I’ve heard over the years.

“You threw your life away!”
I did miss some typical teenage moments by having my daughter so young, like my high-school prom, senior week, and teenage parties.  But I also escaped the drama of my high-school prom, senior week, and teenage parties!  Yes, while my friends were packing for senior week, I was packing a diaper bag for a trip to the store.  

And it may have been harder to me than my classmates to finish my education, but she made that hard work all the more worthwhile…because I wasn’t just doing it for me, I was doing it for her too. So, looking at my daughter, I know I didn’t actually missed a thing. Instead, I gained so much.  

Do you know who the father is?
After careful calculations I narrowed it down to only five guys.  Then, we all went on
Jerry Springer and Jerry told me who the Baby Daddy was!  

Seriously though.  I was with one boy (he will never qualify as a man) in high school, and we just happened to get pregnant. And as for the typical follow-up question, we tried to make it work, but it didn’t--just like married couples try to make it work but sometimes still end up divorced.  It wasn’t the easiest thing to share custody, but I doubt it is at any age.

Are you on welfare/state assistance?
Yes, before I turned 18, my daughter was on state-funded medical insurance. We also received the help of WIC. However, the first day I was able to, I got a full-time job with benefits and cancelled the WIC and insurance. People seem to look down on others who receive state assistance, and I’ve never understood why. Everyone has hard times and need help getting back on their feet - that is why the state programs are there. 

The question implies more than that, though. Maybe that I'm not capable of taking care of myself or that I'm lazy or dependent. That I'm somehow taking advantage of the system or a burden on you, the taxpayer. All of those assumptions are insulting. None of them are true. I was 16 and I needed help. I accepted the help that was offered to me so that I could finish my education. 

And honestly, it's bad manners to go around asking people how they provide for themselves and their kids. Did you ask that lady over there if she's having trouble paying her mortgage? Did you ask that random dude over there if his parents helped him buy his car? No. Because it's really not your business and it's kind of rude and disrespectful. But you'll ask me if I'm on welfare. Here's the thing - I deserve the same basic courtesy you would show anyone else. Anyone who can't see that is a domestic enemy.  

It was really irresponsible of you to get pregnant
Yes, I suppose it was irresponsible. I took birth control every day. I’m not trying to dismiss the way this changed my life; I’m just trying to make the point that unplanned pregnancies don’t happen only to teenagers. And while it may have been irresponsible for me to become pregnant – that was the last irresponsible thing I did regarding my daughter.  From the moment she was born my world has revolved around her.  I didn’t “pawn her off” on anyone else – yes I had help from my parents – but at the end of the day, she was and still is my responsibility.  


(Quick note: Because I'm a huge public health nerd, I thought I'd add that according to a 2011 CDC report, 49% of all pregnancies in the US were unintended. That's a lot, right? - Lydia)

Wasn’t it hard taking care of her as a baby, when you were so young yourself?
This question has always bothered me. Of course it was hard at times. However, I don’t think at any age you want to get up with a screaming baby three times a night. What I’m saying is that for a parent of any age there are challenging moments to being a parent.  The hardest part though, if you really think about it, is that because I was 16, there was no T-Box for me. Keep that in mind when you look down on a teen mom, at least after a long stressful day, you can curl up with a glass of wine… She can’t!

And one last note/dedication to my “Peanut”
As my daughter has grown, I’ve decided that I am grateful for having her as young as I did. I certainly had more energy when she was a baby than I do now; we have a friend with a toddler and he exhausts me after just a few hours. Also, I can remember and relate a bit more to what she is going through in life now. 

But the best part?  Overhearing her tell her friends that I am her best friend and that, in fact, she believes we are soul mates and were meant to be brought together. I am her friend, but I'm her mom first and I know for certain we were meant to be together and don't regret for a second bringing her into the world. 

I’d say, overall, that even though I had her “when I was a baby myself”, we’re doing alright.

(c)Herding Turtles 2009 - 2013

71 comments:

  1. My partner and I are going to have our baby boy in July. We are both 21, looking maybe slightly younger, and still get those comments. We had to use a sperm donor and spent thousands of euros at our fertility center, so yes - he was planned. Really. And no, we are not interested in college parties. We don't know what we are talking about? Maybe, but nobody knows before their first baby is born.

    Dana
    (from Germany, so please excuse any grammar/spelling mistakes)

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    1. Congrats on your baby boy! What a blessing. I hope you are spared as much judgment as possible.

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    2. Good for you!!
      -signed a young mom who was never into partying either

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    3. Wow, thank you! We do not get such nice answers very often! :-)

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    4. Congrats on your successful pregnancy!

      By the way, your grammar and spelling are impeccable. English is a strange language, so congrats on mastering it (I suppose it helps that it has some Germanic roots, no?)

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    5. Alles Gute!

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  2. I had my oldest at 17, and my next at 19. I feel so blessed, because I wasn't supposed to be able to have children at all. But both times, I got every single one of these comments, along with "You do know how that happens, right?" when I was pregnant with my second.

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    1. I had twins at 21 and my third at 24 and while I was grocery shopping with the youngest an employee asked me that same question. I could barely keep the sarcasm from bursting out of me like red hot, hilarious lava. I guess my two pregnancies offended him.

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  3. I love these teen mom posts. My parents and grandparents are all very young & I spent a lot of time as a teenager explaining that the "hot" guy who dropped me off at school or took me to the grocery store was my DAD. Not my brother, or boyfriend, or whatever. MY DAD. My grandparents married & had kids in their teens. My parents married & had me right out of high school. Youth and maturity are not always opposite terms.

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  4. Awesome! Such a beautiful story! Way to go momma!

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  5. I haven't been able to relate to a post EVER as much as I do with this one!! I had my first child at 17, and I had five by the time I was 24. I have heard every question that there is to hear..and then some! Now, at 37, with five teenagers, all that I hear is "you look too young" to have five teenagers"...Well, trust me, I do. That's not something I would make up.

    Since I divorced young as well, I spent many years as a single parent. That didn't make me any less of a mother. I have five wonderful, intelligent, well behaved children that make me so proud...some parents cannot even say that when their child was born to an "acceptable aged" parent!!

    Like you, I couldn't imagine it being any different. I just don't have the energy that I did then...I don't know how I did it, but here we are, and we are good!!

    I am now married to a great man that accepted all of my children from the start (he wouldn't be around if he didn't..lol) - and we are living in perfect harmony....UNTIL THE NEXT TEENAGE CRISIS ARISES!!

    God Bless!

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  6. Basically, people,especially people who claim to be educated, are pigs. I was 25 when I had my first daughter, but because I wasn't married I was labeled, too. I was asked more than once, 'You're not married, are you?' and I would just reply, in an elevated whisper for effect, 'No. I sure wish I knew who the father was, though.' This did not go over well with the busy-body biddies in the office. AND 3 of those busy-bodies suggested that I should give the baby to one of them since I was not married. Yeah. That would have happened. This is nothing new of course. My husband's parents were married at 16. He proposed in the first grade. They were married just shy of 50 years before dad passed away. When Bill was a teen, he was sitting in the bleachers behind his mom, hanging on her like teens can do, and the women around them were whispering how 'horrible a woman her age was fooling around with such a young man.' She informed them it was her son and told 'em to go to hell. lol Way to go mom-in-law!

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing your story!! I am grateful for posts like these so I can share them with others---so many people have fixed preconceived notions that are just B.S..That said, YOU ROCK!! I had my kids when I was turning thirty, and let me tell ya I am a bit jealous of younger moms---I am tired!! It sure would be nice to have that energy!! :):):)

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    1. Had my first baby at 35, and I am so tired! 28 would of worked for me. Guess I shouldn't complain, he is a gift.

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  8. I had my first when I was 20 years old. I had many people tell me that I should just give her up for adoption. - another domestic enemy for teen moms, pressure of adoption or abortion. I am not an advocate of abortion. and adoption is not me at all. she was not planned but I knew where babies came from before I had sex and so she wasn't really an accident. and she most certainly was not the worst thing that could have happened.
    3 years later I had my second and very shortly after was a single mom. They were the reason I had the courage to get out of a bad relationship. they deserve the best.

    my oldest are 18 and 15 now, I have 4 more children, I love each and every one of my kids the same, but my oldest two and I are terrific friends. they tell me that my husband (of 11 years) and I are the coolest parents they know. :)
    they are smart, funny, and wise beyond their years. I think we've done a great job raising them and I think we probably did a better job because we are younger parents.

    having a new baby now, at 38, I am definitely doing some things a little differently, but I sure hope my little ones turn out to be just as confident and courageous, smart and witty as our oldest two

    Rock on dedicated teen moms

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    1. I am a young mom, I am 26. My first daughter was born when I was 19. I had people ask me all the time about adoption. Even a long term family friend. It has been a big challenge, and a lot of people ask me a lot of questions. I was not married with my first daughter, then married him and had a second. People were still judgey but less so since I was married. Then we got divorced and now I am getting a lot of that again. I really appreciate this domestic enemy.

      I just wish that people would butt out of other's business!

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  9. I was a teen mom, just short of my 16th birthday i had my son. I do get a LOT of people asking me the same questions and asking me if i had help, and oh i look too young... here i am, 34 years old, still answering questions for people. How many people have people questioning them 18 years later on how they handled their life situations? Not a lot, i imagine. Everyone is curious, and i understand that, but sometimes curiosity crosses over into rude territory. I'm very open about myself when it comes to these things, but my cooperation means nothing to the level of rudeness coming at me. It just means i learned to cope with it. =)

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  10. This is SO beyond awesome! You "made a mistake" (in that you didn't INTEND to get pregnant, but that's not an age thing), but from then on you have done nothing but build a wonderful life for yourself and your (very lucky) daughter. Anyone that judges that has some serious issues. What's obvious to me is that you worked harder than most 16-year-olds have to, and that's impressive.

    And can I just say that one of my favourite parts is where you said you're her friend, but her mother FIRST. That's exactly the kind of relationship I aspire to with all my kids.

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  11. It's nice to see this from the perspective of a REAL teenage mom. Unfortunately, a few bad (and glamorized) apples tend to spoil the bunch, and as is true for anyone who isn't smack dab in the middle of the bell curve, people who think they fall in the middle tend to generalize. MTV doesn't help this situation. I applaud you for being a good mom, period. I applaud you for using state services to help you and your daughter until you could help yourself (again, the bad apples come into play here) instead of becoming dependent on them.

    I am pretty much your age (give or take a year) and I had my first child a year ago. I wish I had the energy that I had when I was 16 or 17, because it IS exhausting. It is interesting to see parenting from others' perspectives, how the pros and cons change with age and experience. Honestly, the only bad mothers are the ones who abuse or neglect their children. The rest of us are just trying our best, whether we're 16 or 40, and judgment isn't going to help anyone.

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    1. Bravo!
      "The rest of us are just trying our best, whether we're 16 or 40, and judgment isn't going to help anyone." clap, clap, clap, clap!!!!!!

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  12. So well said! You even brought a few tears to my eyes before my morning coffee (don't worry, i forgive you for that)

    I wasn't quite as young as you when I had my first, I was 20, but I still received a lot of stares and comments. I also knew at the time that I was missing out on a lot: parties, bars and trips with my friends, etc. And while sometimes it was disappointing to miss out on making memories with my friends, I always knew that someday those things wouldn't be important, but my girl would always be my priority.

    Being a constant for her was always more important than any of the things I passed up.

    I have 4 kids now: 3 girls and a boy. It's so natural now to pass things up to spend time with them. I'd much rather be at a soccer game or a dance recital that go out to a noisy bar. Those are the things that help turn them into the great people they will become and I don't want to miss any of it.

    Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work! It sounds like you are raising an amazing person :)

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    1. This...."And while sometimes it was disappointing to miss out on making memories with my friends, I always knew that someday those things wouldn't be important, but my girl would always be my priority."

      And this... "It's so natural now to pass things up to spend time with them. I'd much rather be at a soccer game or a dance recital that go out to a noisy bar. Those are the things that help turn them into the great people they will become and I don't want to miss any of it."

      Made me cry into my morning coffee! As a now-28 year old who had kids at 18 and 21, I can relate so completely to this.

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  13. People ask if you're on welfare?! That is the rudest question I have ever heard. I'm sorry you had to deal with that. Good for you for writing this post and for raising a fantastic daughter.

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  14. I had my first baby at 38 and my second at 39. At 45 I'm exhausted every. single. day. and have high school classmates announcing the births of their grandkids. While there were advantages to waiting so long, there are definite drawbacks of having kids both very early and very late in life. Great job, mama.

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    1. Heh, I have friends that are grandparents at 37! Heck, one friend became a g-ma, then had a baby herself a few months later. She's got ger hands full, that's for sure.

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  15. Thanks for representing the young moms! Reasons I'm glad to have become a mom at 19:

    1. I'll have more time to enjoy my kids, grandkids, and if I'm lucky, great-grandkids.
    2. My kids have more time to enjoy their grandparents. My parents wouldn't have chosen to become grandparents in their 40s, but they wouldn't change that now!
    3. I can relate to my kids. My mom friends are all older and aren't into video games or Disney movies (90s ones) the way I am.
    4. I look forward to focusing on my career and traveling when my kids are grown without having a baby interrupt things.

    I have had all kinds of "feedback" from people over the years. I'm 29, but look much younger, so I get lots of comments walking around with my very tall 9 -year-old son. Add to add to that, that my husband is much older, so my life is judgement central. But hey, we just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. Yes, I was pregnant at my wedding but the engagement ring was on my finger before I got knocked up.

    To show both sides, Reasons young motherhood has been hard:
    1. I didn't finish my college degree and chose to work instead. In hindsight, I didn't need to do this and should have stayed in school. I'm finishing my degree now, which is very difficult with kids and a full-time job.
    2.Not having the financial stability that I hope to have in my 30s and 40s (though moms of any age can say the same)
    3. My son has autism, so this made being a young mom even harder. I knew nothing about motherhood, let alone autism.

    All of my mom friends are in their 30s and 40s (this is NYC and women get started with motherhood later here) and I am very grateful at how warmly they have accepted me into their circle and don't look at me differently. Judging other moms for any reason is not productive; banding together with other women is.

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  16. Tina, don't worry, being a younger mom is exhausting too! I don't know why everyone things I had/have so much energy. Sure doesn't feel like it! ;)

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  17. Please don't take this next comment as disrespect for older moms, because I think it's fantastic that women in their 40s are having babies. If being a mom is a dream, go for it. Love hearing about even older parents who adopt.

    That said, let's not forget that older motherhood is only a recent phenomenon. Biologically, women are primed for motherhood in their late teens and early 20s, and that's why it's been done this way since the beginning of mankind, and why it's still this way in most of the world.

    The reason women wait nowadays is because they are focusing on their careers, and on waiting for the right partner. These are obviously great reasons to wait, and I support them wholeheartedly. The point is, we have a CHOICE. For this we are fortunate.

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    1. Elyse, it is a pleasure to read both your comments. You are fair and insightful. Rock on, mama!

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    2. How nice, thank you!

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    3. As much as I appreciate your comment (and I do), for me, becoming a parent for the first time wasn't about intentionally waiting. It was not meeting my husband until I was 31, followed by many years of infertility. The only point is, just as much as teen moms might deal with an unexpected pregnancy, sometimes the 'waiting' is unexpected too. In the end, hopefully we're all the best moms we can be and supportive of one another.

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  18. I will admit, I used to be a pre-judger. But time and experience and growing up a bit has put a lot of things in a different perspective that we all have hard times, and judgement from others, and desperation. You sound like you are not only surviving, but thriving!

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  19. Teem Mom here... Well, I'm 25 going on 26 now but I guess I will always and forever be a "teen mom". I could have written this post myself. My daughters at 9 and 8 now and I know that they were brought into this world to save my life. They are the reason I breathe, the reason I get up and go to work, the reason I live. People will always judge. It just really helps to know that they could never possibly know what I've been through and it really helps to know that despite what I've been through, I am a stronger, happier, all around better person. And I owe it all to my two angels.

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  20. When I had my first at age 25 it was about average for the area I lived in, so mommy groups came easily. Then I moved to an area where the average is about ten years older. That ten years makes a lot of difference- I'm the "baby" of the preschool mommies and often have to deal with a lot of the same questions and insinuations that I don't know what I'm doing because I'm younger. Excuse me, my daughter is the same age as yours, we have the same amount of parenting experience (though I worked with kids for years before I had one). Young moms are not bad moms.

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  21. This author, if I did my math correctly, is 32 if she was 16 when she got pregnant and her daughter is now 16. She is not the typical teenage mom that is glorified these days on shows like 16 and pregnant. Or Teen Mom. She seems to have had a level of maturity then and now that is sadly lacking in current depictions of te en moms. So props to her.

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  22. Elyse, that's not true. Older FIRST-TIME mothers is a recent phenomenon, maybe, but before the era of birth control women started having babies young and often kept having babies well into their late 30s and 40s. My grandmothers started having kids in their 20s and finished in their early 40s, for example. That was once quite common. Talk about being tired!

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    1. Ah, good point, thanks for clarifying!

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  23. Love you, post-er lady :) Keep being the awesome Mommy you are!

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  24. My parents even after 48 years of married life, still tell people they're married one year earlier to cover up the unexpected blessing that was me! My mom was 17 when I was born and we have an awesome relationship. She is my best friend, my cheerleader, my biggest fan, ect... She had all three of us before her 21st birthday and we all grew together. Now I on the other hand, after 26 years of marriage elected not to have any children but not because of my "parent's mistake" It just wasn't something that hubby and I ever felt a desire for and we have the most awesome nieces and nephews in the world!

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  25. As someone who has been a teen-mom judger - thank you for this. And you're right. It's not easy at any age and you're not going to "be doing it right" at any age either. Thank you for loving your child and raising what sounds like a wonderful girl.

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  26. Fantastic post. I was raised by a "teen mom" who is a dedicated, smart, accomplished woman with an amazing family. Because they had their kids early, my folks are enjoying early retirement and visiting their grandkids, while the kid who who skipped a generation (me), is chasing toddler and changing diapers in her late 40s. We all take the trade-offs that come with parenthood at every age. Life throws curve balls, we all do the best we can with the challenges. The trick is taking responsibility for our actions at any age, in whatever way is best for us at the time.

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  27. I had my son at 19. I'm only 20, so I still get asked all of these questions. I look very young so I get mean glares when I'm out with my son.

    I've had a very hard time, but I'm doing it. Thankfully my boyfriend and I had already been together three years so he's still around (and we'll eventually get married). I still do almost everything on my own. I rarely have a baby sitter, and when I do, it's not for free time, it's for getting chores done or work done.

    I ended up losing my job, stayed home for 6 months, then found a great job with benefits and pays well. Even if my boyfriend wasn't in the picture, I could do it. It's hard, but it's hard at any age. Younger mothers just get looked down upon because of the image society has put in our heads.

    The best time to have a baby is actually 16-18. Your body is in the best condition for it then, you have energy, and a lot of life ahead of you. Things have changed. People used to get married and have babies at a very young age.

    I love this post. You sound like a great mother. I love hearing from other teen mothers about thier experience. Thanks for sharing.

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  28. Using an actual teen mom would have been more appealing to your younger readers. I'm sure the issues are similar but its not easy to find mom blogs written by someone more in their 20's so to give a younger mom a chance would have been a nice change.

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    1. Have you read this blog? Amazing stuff. Written by a teen mom for teen moms. And she's young. Hope you like it!

      http://www.teenmomnyc.com

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  29. I could have written this post!!!! I had my daughter when I was 17. She is now 14 and just the best. It is time for the misconception of teen parents to change!! I was out on my own at 17 and taking care of a child while finishing high school!! Not pawning my daughter off on my parents and living a "normal" teenage life.

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  30. My very best friend in the whole world was born when her mama was thirteen. I was always proud of MY mama for being sweet to Mrs. Ivy; a lot of other moms were not so nice. It still makes me cringe to think about it.

    My little girl was also an unplanned gift to an unmarried couple, although we were 24 and 28 when she was born. We were planning on getting married anyway, and she kind of sealed the deal for us. I have no idea how single moms do it. I had help and I still felt way out of my league. So, kudos on being badasses, you guys.

    Thanks for the post!

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  31. Like you, I had my son at a young age(18) & got the usual "Oh is this your little brother" type questions. I loved telling them that he was my son because he was always such a well behaved boy(I think they expected him to be a hellion or something). I can not get over how rude people can be though!! My son is 23 now & we basically grew up together. I have always been mom first but hearing him call me his best friend - BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD! And it made me laugh when he first noticed the other moms in his class(during school function) & said, "Mommy, you're the youngest mommy here." I was very thankful for the energy I had to keep up with him!(Now at 41, with a 16 month old, I know I'll probably hear - Mommy, you're the OLDEST mommy here...:-/ hahahaha!)

    Be proud of what you've accomplished - it is tough but you done good Momma!!

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  32. I had my kids at 28 & 30, but I'm 16 years older than my SIL who looked just like me when she was little. Since my hubby and I started dating when SIL was not quite 2, I got tons of stares and questions when I'd take her out in public. I think jerks are going to be jerks regardless the situation.

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  33. I am a stepmom to 2 wonderful children now ages 19 and 14 that live with myself and dad majority of the year.

    I hear alllll the time how I do not look old enough to have children their ages. I know people mean it as a compliment, but, wow, really? It is uncomfortable b/c 1)now I might have to say I'm really their stepmom 2)I might have to disclose I'm 39, so yes, I can have a daughter in college and 3) even though I don't have to say anything, I'm feeling odd b/c I know that their mom is indeed a teen mom (esp if the kids are around, c'mon, people! think before you speak!!). If I disclose I'm the stepmom, then there's often more questions about their mom or there's the "knowing" look given to me... which means what, exactly?? And, again, when the kids are around? C'mon, people!

    If I feel awkward, I can't imagine how much worse it must be to hear as the actual teen mom.

    Well, written point of view. Thanks for sharing. There were actually times in the middle of the night with our younger two that I would think of my teens' mom and wonder how the heck she did it AND studied for/finished high school with honors (they married back then and still went to prom after baby, too!). I know they worked hard for their children, theirs just wasn't a marriage meant to last.

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  34. What a fantastic post, I want to share it with everyone I know. My daughter just had a baby 7 months ago at age 16. I raged, cried, begged, pleaded through her pregnancy. Finally I just gave it up to God and my granddaughter arrived. She is an absolute joy and has brought so much love to our family. My daughter is a concerned and compassionate mother, finishing her education and constantly being judged by others, including her father and his family. (we are divorced). I have learned so much from this experience and I am so proud of my daughter. She is a wonderful mother to her little girl. Thank you so much for writing this, it should be required reading for everyone. Congrats on the wonderful job you have done raising your daughter.

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  35. "Are you on welfare?"
    "Why? Do you think they gave me your check by mistake?"
    Keep up the good work, all. And don't let the Nosy McJudgersteins mess up your day!

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  36. I had my first child at 18 and my second at 28. While my first son was not planned, I do not regret it. We have a great life! I worked hard. Sometimes 2 jobs. I now have a bachelors degree and I am in a position where I am married and able to stay home with my younger son. Not all teen moms fit into the stereotype many people have in their head. I will say though that I can't even tell you the number of times I have been asked if my son is my brother. Um no!

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  37. Pregnant at 18, I suppose I qualify as a teen mom. I got the stares and the glares and those absurd questions that no mother should have to hear, let alone answer. Yet, I was married for 6 months before we got pregnant. Which got us even more glares. "What about your life, your education, etc" I married straight out of high school. So what? I didn't miss anything. The few friends I had pretty much disappeared from my life as soon as I got my diploma, anyway. We moved out of the area to start a new life and decided (yes, my son - both of them, in fact) were planned. I gave up working to be a stay at home mom. Who the hell wants to pay 3/4 of your paycheck to daycare? Why is it so damn expensive? Besides - how much of my childrens lives would I be missing if I slapped them in daycare? We can afford me to be a Stay At Home Mom, so that is what I do. Now, my oldest is starting Kindergarten this fall and while I know he needs this, you can bet your ass, I will miss him during the day when it is just his younger brother and me at home. I've gotten to experience every part of their young lives to this point. Now, I have to throw him into the big bad world and hope he can cope with kids that will tease him and hope he doesn't become the bully, instead. I trust him, though. It will take adjusting. I may have been young when I had him, but I'm not stupid. And neither are my children. My age doesn't matter. So long as I am teaching my children to be respectful and disciplined when times call for it and to have fun and enjoy everything they can.

    Next time you see a young mother, don't judge her. Maybe she isn't as young as you thought. Maybe she actually has her shit together. Maybe she is a great mother that made a mistake and is now doing everything in her power to be the best mother she can be. And that is all we ask for. Don't judge us. Don't glare. Smile at us and wave at out kids - but don't give us the 3rd degree about what you may or may not see wrong.

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  38. I think it is great if you had a child and things worked out. I do not think we should focus on the age of the mother. We should focus on supporting the people bringing the next generation into the world. One day I hope to bring my own child into the world. Since I do not have a child of my own I am able to see the joy and beauty of having a child. Teen mothers have things very hard, but they are also blessed. As a society we should work hard to support all mothers. Just two cents from a highly educated woman deliberately choosing education and work over having a child, while dreaming about having a baby to rock in my arms.

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  39. This was lovely. Kudos to you; you and your daughter sound like you're doing fine.

    I have had similar experiences with being judged for being a teen mom (although I never was one).

    I am the oldest of three and am almost 13 years older than my brother. If all of us were together (at the playground, library, etc), I was a "good big sister looking after her siblings." If my little sister wasn't with my brother and me, I was a "horrible, irresponsible teen" who shouldn't be out in public. It actually got to were I wouldn't take him certain places for fear of being judged/hearing hurtful things.

    Fast forward to now, I have my son (born when I was 33) and somehow I still look like a teen mom to certain judgmental folks. One of the more pleasant experiences involved an older lady at a restaurant who started talking to me about my baby and veered into odd territory when she started talking about how "of course, my husband and I waited until we were older to have kids...I was almost 23." At least now, I can laugh about it and not let it prevent me from going places/doing things.

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  40. Thank you so much for writing this! I've read a lot the "Dometic Enemies", and am so happy to see this as a subject!!! I also had my daughter at 16, and with the help of my parents, and government provided health insurance for 1.5 years, I graduated high school on time. I don't feel like I faced parenthood any differently than a 23 year old would have. I am the oldest of 5 children, and that gave me a certain advantage, but nothing can ever prepare ANYONE for parenthood.

    I'm so tired of answering the questions you listed above, and want to remind people that no matter what the age, if you see a well behaved child, the parents are most likely were the driving force behind that.

    I wouldn't ask a woman in her 40's why she waited, and what made her think that being nearly 60 when her child graduates high school is a good idea. So I still struggle to understand why people feel it's acceptable to ask me about my life choices.

    My daughter starts high school soon, she's in advanced classes, National Junior Honor Society, and is a volunteer at our local animal shelter. And yet, at the most recent "Meet the Teachers" I was told I shouldn't be asking questions about my "sister's classes" without our parents. My daughter and I have learned to laugh it off, but the judgment has affected her as well, because they have no right to question either of us.

    Please don't make assumptions. A teen parent does not always equate to an inexperienced screw up, and being an older parent does not always equate to being a good parent.

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  41. I could not be more proud to say that the Teen Mom posting this blog is my wonderful daughter. We are all so proud of her. She was and still is a wonderful Mom from day 1. She was always mature and intelligent and it carried her in great stead. When she told us she was pregnant, naturally it was a surprise but I knew she was up to it and knew she would be handle it with grace.

    What she failed to mention is that she earned a college degree while working full time and has a wonderful job with great benefits. BTW, her daughter is planning to attend college.

    Remember, if you wouldn't want a question asked of you, don't ask it of someone else!

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  42. This post and the wonderful comments make me so happy to be a RFML stalker, I mean reader, I stopped when the judge told me to! As much as Lydia and Kate deserved their "fame" and attention it did bring some new elements to the readership who didn't know we were all about doing our best. And then laughing at ourselves and inviting others to do the same when it all goes to schmidt. And I loved the comment about having more choices about child bearing now. Although sometimes I think that just makes others feel they have more opportunities to run off their mouths. Congratulations to all you lovely moms out there!

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  43. Congratulations on a life of dedication and service. What it really comes down to is that every one of us here is a mom first. Regardless of what path brought us to that point or the paths we've followed since then, we're all trying to do right and what's best by our children. Those to insecure, insipid, and idiotic to see that are inconsequential in the grand scheme of what really matters.

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  44. I am 24nbut I have been "blessed" with VERY youthful looks....as in I look about 16 :-[....so when I am out with my year old daughter I get TONS of the judgey-McJudgerson stares and "whispered" comments.
    The hilarious part is that my husband is 3 months younger than I am, but LOOKS about 40...awkward assumptions follow us everywhere lol...I find myself trying to work the phrase "my husband" into just about every conversation I have with any stranger ever hahaha.
    And then I also get the puzzled looks because my daughter is abnormally well behaved, and has been since she was born, also she's quite the cutie with curly red hair and dimples ^.~ So then strangers sit there thinking *how the heck does that dirty-unwed-slutty-teenage-mither do it?*
    Umm...magic? No, really....it's magic, she just came out that way, all cute and sweet and non-screamy ^.^
    And being on state assistance is nothing to be ashamed of...I and the baby are on state insurance and without them we would be in over 1 million in personal debt...yeah, an extremely high risk pregnancy and a 6 week preemie who had to stay in hospital 2.5 months and 4 surgeries between the 2 of us and we would never see the end of that debt without state assistance. I am forever grateful.

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  45. I've been very fortunate to so far have very supportive family and friends. I'm 19 and I've suffered two miscarriages so far, and am 6 weeks pregnant currently. I know I'm too early to receive as many rude comments, and this is a very hurtful topic to me as me and my partner desperately want a baby that wont pass on us. But I'm proud to be pregnant and I know being a mum is my life goal. I am so happy I've got the support group I do. My family, especially my mum has really been there for me.. My friends have been the best. And my coworkers really are such great support <3

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  46. I am the product of a teen mom - she was 17 when I was born. She has always been my role model and inspiration. She worked her ass off to make sure I had everything I needed, and a lot of what I wanted. I always loved that she was young enough to keep up with me on the playground, and that she truly understood what I was going through, because she still remembered it clearly.

    I am proud of my mama for being awesome, regardless of her age.

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  47. I am so ashamed of myself: a few years ago, I met a new neighbor who had an adult son. I joked, "He's your SON? You must have been a child bride!" thinking I was complimenting her on her youthful appearance. Welp. Apparently she was raped when she was 13. Yeah. Foot firmly in mouth.
    Fortunately, she just sad that all very matter-of-factly, and I apologized for being thoughtless. We get along fine now. (whew)

    But I have NEVER said that again.

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  48. I must admit I often tell women that they look so young to have a child of *insert age here.* I always meant it to be a compliment on their appearance, but now I can see how it might seem that I'm being a judgy mcjudgerson about their child bearing age. I will be more careful about that from now on.

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  49. I am 36 with a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old. I continually get the side-eye because people are pretty sure that I'm "not old enough" to have young adults.

    The truth is -- I cheated. They are technically my step-children. But I'm the only Mom they've ever known. I have made all the sacrifices except for gestation and labor (which aren't possible for me anyway).

    You are right, I am so glad I was young when they were. There was always energy and adventure. They never complained that we didn't play outside together.

    And if other parents get a bit judgy, I just remind them that by the time I'm 40, my kids will be well out of the house, and I can catch up on anything I may have missed.

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  50. You're a good mom and that is all that counts. Rude people will always have something to say. I got married and pregnant at 19, became a mom at 20. For me strangers were always polite, I've never had so many doors opened for me, but hey it's the south. My family was pissed, pressured me hard to have an abortion. But my baby was planned, and VERY wanted. Oh well, you have to ignore the negative ones because they'll never be happy. Loved your article.
    HC

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  51. Really enjoyed your post. You have a voice for a lot of teen mommies out there. I am a beginner blogger, please check me out http://hopeloveandbeingateenmom.blogspot.com

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  52. thank you so much for writing this. i have been trying to word a post like this for years now. i, also, am a teen mom. 16, 18, and 20. i absolutely don't regret it, but i am still shocked when people feel completely comfortable asking my age and when i had my child compared to other mothers.

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  53. I got pregnant with my daughter when I was 18 and gave birth to her when I was 19. Her father and I got married when she was 4 months old, and five years later, we are still together and expecting our second child. I don't regret any of it, and I am very happy with the choices/decisions I have made. My mother had me when she was 35 and passed away from breast cancer when she was 52 (I was 16). I would never want my daughter to have to go through that kind of loss at such a young age, so I am glad that she will be all grown up by the time I am old enough to potentially get cancer (knock on wood). I am also glad that my mother-in-law was 18 when she had my husband, because that means that my daughter actually gets to know her paternal grandmother, and her paternal great-grandmothers (I never knew mine). Thank you for writing this post!

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