Published on May 31st, 2017 | by Ezra Stone0
Advice from Teen MUTHAs!
This spring, I’ve gotten to work as a counselor and support group facilitator with some teen moms at a local high school. These groups have been some of the most fun I’ve had in my career, and also the most challenging. The students have pushed me to share myself and my own parenting experiences, genuinely listened to my advice (when they asked for it), and talked openly and frankly about race, parenting, trauma, and family. It was a privilege and an honor to hear their stories and hold their extremely adorable babies.
What I loved most about working with these young moms is how much knowledge and information they shared with one another, so I asked them to write and illustrate some advice for parents. And even though most of our conversations were confidential, two students, Karla and Virginia, agreed to answer some questions for MUTHA Magazine as well.
MUTHA: What was it like when you found out you were pregnant?
Virginia: It was a shock. I was scared, but also happy.
Karla: I was scared and happy at the same time. I didn’t want to tell my parents.
MUTHA: How did you tell other people?
Virginia: For me it was hard. I told my closest friends first and they understood. My mom was easy to handle. My dad was disappointed but he got over it because he realized it was already done.
Karla: My boyfriend took me to get the pregnancy test. He was shocked too.
MUTHA: How do you balance parenting with school and work?
Virginia: I do all my schoolwork at school or email the teachers for help. They see me trying and are willing to work with me. [What about work? Is it hard leaving Will?] Yeah. I thought he must have cried the whole time [my first day of work]. He was crying in the car when they dropped me off and he was crying when they came to pick me up. I missed him. My breasts were hurting. I didn’t get my break but I went into the bathroom and let a little milk out. I have a pump but it won’t fit in the locker in the little breakroom. [One of the other girls offers to bring her a manual breast pump.] Thanks, I’ll take that. Yeah, it’s a little rocky.
MUTHA: What do you wish people knew about teen parents?
Virginia: It’s hard to take care of a baby but we get the job done!
Karla: It’s not all bad. People don’t see the inside story.
MUTHA: Where do you see yourself and your babies in five years?
Karla: I want to be in college. I think Karlo will be a smartass, cause he already thinks he can do anything.
Virginia: On my own or with my sister. Saving money for a car. William will be going to school!
MUTHA: What’s the cutest thing about your babies?
Virginia: his laugh! I love making him laugh.
Karla: his smile. Oh—and his toes—I love his toes!
For more teen mamas’ stories, check out Jendella Benson’s Young Motherhood project, Nina Packebush’s We Have Raised Presidents, and Teen Mom NYC by Gloria Malone.
And these stories, here at MUTHA.
Pbotos by Amanda Allen