Have you ever overheard, or been part of conversations that gets you a bit miffed? Do you sometimes have to bite your tongue, change the conversation or even leave, just in case you say something you might regret? Teen parents, is one of those subjects that is likely to get me white knuckled and digging my nails into the palms of my hands before I hastily make my excuses.
Before you get miffed at me thinking I’m slating teen parents, please read the entire post!
Let me explain.
Being a teen parent isn’t an excuse for being a bad parent.
Being a teen parent doesn’t give you an excuse for feeding your child crap all day, then complain that they won’t eat real food.
It doesn’t give you an out on looking after your child.
It doesn’t make you any less responsible for your child than an older parent.
It doesn’t give you the excuse to say ‘So and so happened, but I was only seventeen when I gave birth….’
Let me explain a bit more.
I often hear parents excusing themselves for not knowing any better purely because they are young parents. I also hear older people say things like ‘Well what do you expect? They are only teenagers!’
I’m sorry but, especially in this day and age of instant information, there is no reason for using your age as an excuse for bad parenting decisions unless you are 13/14 maybe 15, when you are still your parents responsibility and can’t legally make decisions for yourself let alone a baby!
All first time parents struggle, we all question ourselves, worry we will break this tiny little creature who is our sole responsibility. No matter how old we are. But we all have to step up to the plate, take a deep breath and just do it.
Okay we might not get it right the first time, or the second. We might spend all day, every day, in our pyjamas with unbrushed hair and teeth, a kitchen full of dirty dishes and vomit drying down our backs.
We might be afraid of bathing that squirming little being for the first time or pulling those (not so) fragile little arms and legs into miniscule items of clothing, with even smaller arm and leg holes.
We might feed our toddler a bag of wotsits and a biscuit for their lunch just so they have eaten something. Anything.
But our only excuse is that we are parents. Age is irrelevant.
For the first few weeks after giving birth to our twins I had my husband or my mum here through the day to help. But they both had to go back to work and so I was on my own. I had to learn to pick up, feed and cuddle two screaming babies simultaneously. I had to learn to get two babies and a double pram onto a bus before they had the ones that you could push a pram on and off. Tip: One baby to the driver, one to any little old lady sitting in the front, pram in, baby off driver, pay for ticket, baby off little old lady, or sit next to her if she wants to keep a hold. Repeat on the way off if nobody offers help. Done!
I had to find out what they were allergic to myself at eight months old because our GP wasn’t interested in helping us one jot.
I had to learn how to hold two chubby toddler hands with one hand so we could walk home while carrying a bag of shopping in the other.
I was 18 when I gave birth.
Okay, I was married and a legal adult but I was a teen mother.
Now I’m not writing this post in an ‘I could do it aren’t I great, why aren’t you?’ sort of way. I struggled, I cried. It was REALLY bloody well hard! The first six months of their lives were pure existence. We weren’t living, we were just trying to survive. But we did it, we fought through the endless sleepless nights, the piles of dirty nappies and constant washing and making of bottles! We rolled our sleeves up, learnt what we could do to make our lives easier and eventually emerged from the fog. We did all of this without the help or Dr Google, mumsnet, baby centre and whatever other parenting websites are out there nowadays. We didn’t even have a phone, let alone a computer back then!
What I am basically trying to say that everyone struggles, but everyone gets there in the end and I really wish people would realise that how old you are has nothing to do with it. I know young mums who are absolute naturals from the instant their child is born. I know older mums who really struggle to get into the swing of being parents for months, even years.
Please people, stop using your age as an excuse. If you don’t know something, google it or speak to other parents. If your confused by, or afraid of something, ask advice. Not to knowing something doesn’t make you a bad parent, as long as everything you do for your child is to the best of your knowledge and abilities. Nobody can ask more than that.
But please, above all else, stand up, be a parent and be proud of what you can do, learn to do what you can’t and stop hiding behind a number!
How old were you when you had your first child? Were you a teen parent?