For several years, our Community Education team has run a program called Teen Success. It offers education and mentorship opportunities to teen mothers so they can maintain their current family size until they complete their high school education.
They also learn how to develop future goals and plans for themselves and their children. The leaders of this program work toward this goal by providing a weekly supportive environment for teens aged 12 to 18 who are pregnant or currently parenting. Participants meet to:
- Learn information, skills and behaviors to prevent an additional pregnancy.
- Develop skills to cope with the challenges of parenthood and adolescence.
- Receive encouragement to successfully finish education.
One of the teen mothers in the program, Ashley, shared with us the difference this program has made in her life. This is her story:
What exactly is motherhood? To me it’s a difficult, life-changing experience. My name is Ashley and I became a mom at age 17. Young right? That’s what a lot of people say when they see teen moms like me walking around with a baby in a carrier.
Being a teen mom is never easy and my journey was worse than most. I come from a very overprotective family. We never talked about sex, or birth control or how to protect yourself.
When my pregnancy test came back positive I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was stuck staring at that positive line. So I went to a clinic to make sure it was true. But it was and I was five weeks and five days pregnant. I honestly couldn’t believe that I was carrying a human being inside of me that long.
And I remember the day my family found out. My dad kept yelling, IS IT TRUE? YOU’RE PREGNANT? I busted into tears because I knew he was disappointed. He was angry, too. So angry that he kicked me out of the house. For reals. But I was mad too, because he was a teen parent, and I thought he and my stepmom would understand.
So I went to live with my boyfriend and his parents. I knew it was for the best. But things were never the same. There wasn’t a normal high school for me anymore. There wasn’t a spot on the varsity softball team, no prom, no school sports games, none of that.
The next month I started at my new school for teen moms. It was there that my new friends told me about Planned Parenthood and how they come to our school to teach us about how birth control works, STDs and how to stay protected. But for me, Planned Parenthood was just seeing Chrissy and Marcy, the leaders of the Teen Success Program, every Thursday. It was like closure to a bad part of my life.
Planned Parenthood taught me how to see life from a whole other perspective and it changed my life in a good way. They’ve motivated me to be a successful mother to my daughter. Today I am a working high school teenage mother.
Chrissy and Marcy have encouraged me to finish my last year in high school and to go to college, because in the end education really does matter. I get up every morning, go to school, go to work and then come home to my beautiful sleeping daughter. It’s difficult at times because I miss staying home and taking care of her, but we have to do what we have to do to make money for our kids.
I’m proud to say I’m a teen mom to my daughter. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to be walking around in public with my daughter by my side.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or an endorsement by Planned Parenthood. Check with your health care provider to discuss what is best for you.