By Kate Harris, CFF.
Here at CFF I have the privilege of coordinating our Teenage Parent Pathway service. We provide teen parents and teen parents to be with a number of opportunities to receive support, come together to share experiences and gain information.
The young parents I meet are passionate about being the best parents they can be. I get an overwhelming sense from them that they want the best for their unborn babies, babies and children. They really are a joy to work with. Something however that makes me sad is a common concern they share with me and each other: feeling judged for having a baby in their teens.
I have heard many a story about comments made at the bus stop, looks in the supermarket, comments on social media all linked to a general disapproval of becoming a parent as a teenager. The way society still views teen parents is something they all have an awareness of and it weighs heavy on them. Becoming a parent is a life changing event at any age and in any circumstance. Imagine feeling judged at a time that everyone finds daunting and scary, when you are already possibly feeling quite vulnerable.
The pressure some of the young parents then put upon themselves to do well is immense. Feeling they must not fail at any aspect of parenting, for their baby to have nothing but the best. Because they feel they have to prove they can do it, that they were not too young. So that no one can say “I told you so”.
I wonder where this societal judgement comes from? Becoming a parent during teenage years is not a new thing. Having said that, neither is judging parents and the decisions they make in general. Society likes to cross examine every style of parenting. Sometimes it seems parents can’t win no matter what they do.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if all parents felt supported, safe and confident? This is something we feel really passionately about at CFF. I’d like to urge you to think about the part you could play in your everyday life. I’ve asked some of the young parents about this. My favourite reply was “Just give me a smile when you see me out with my baby” How easy is that!
The teen parents we work with are doing a brilliant job. Bringing up happy, well-developing beautiful babies - with the energy that being young brings.