This is a topic that is always on the forefront of my mind and in my opinion should be shared.
I had my son when I was 22. At 14 I thought that was the perfect age and it wasn’t until I was actually 22 that I realized how young I really was. I had yet to finish college and most people felt I was too young to be married let alone pregnant. I could agree now that may have been true but if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that life happens and the choices you make when challenges arise are what’s most important.
I’ve touched on this topic before but not in great detail. I do want to address how difficult it has been for me being a young parent but also the stigmas centered around parenting at a young age.
People tend to believe you are incapable.
I’m not sure if anything bothers me more which is why I made sure to place this at the top of my list. I understand that a lot of growth and maturity comes with age but also from experiences and a lot of the experiences I’ve had are quite different than a typical 23 year old.
By the time I was 22 I was more than capable of understanding what it meant and what it took to take care of myself. Yes I was lucky enough to find someone to share these responsibilities with and it makes a HUGE difference but many people assume that 23 year olds are all immature teenagers. It’s not safe to assume everyone in the early 20’s still get financial support from their family or that they even have a family.
There are many who have had to learn to take care of themselves from young ages. It’s also problematic to assume everyone grows at the same rate as you do.
Many people tend to compare their mentality and experiences to others. I get that “No way I could have had a kid at 22” type of comment often and I always think “Well that’s just it, I’m not you.”
Assumptions that it was a mistake
I’ve noticed when referring to young parents some people unintentionally refer to it as an incident or something unwanted. May I add there is a difference between unplanned and unwanted. I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mother but no I did not sit down and plan it out.
Even though I was married I did notice very little excitement, though my husband and I were extremely happy, I got a sense that others did not share that joy. Whether people admit it or not it’s lonely to be excited and not have people willing to sincerely celebrate with you.
I think it comes from the idea that you need to “have it all together” before having children. For some people that never happens and some people have half a dozen children before they are “successful.” Either way it’s important to pay attention to the tone you have when addressing young parents.
You have to deal with proving you are a responsible parent
I believe all parents deal with this to a certain extent but I feel young parents have to work twice as hard to show people they have it under control. You may be thinking what others feel about your parenting choices is not important oh but it is.
If we go to a doctor or a preschool it matters if they believe we are doing our jobs as parents adequately because the last thing we want are people believing someone else should have custody of our children.
I’ll admit this is a fear I’ve had since having my son. I know the stigmas surrounding young parents being immature and irresponsible and I have to be conscious of every move I make. I take those “So you’ve learned to change a diaper” type comments to heart because I’ve made it my biggest priority to be a good mother for my son and there is nothing worse than someone assuming I’m a irresponsible young mom.
This issue hits me hardest when I’m out in public especially if my son is having a hard time and is a bit fussy. Nothing is worse than those judgmental glares.
It’s difficult enough being a young parent without feeling scrutinized.
It’s hard but it’s worth it
It has been difficult learning to care for another human being and learning to balance achieving my goals with having a family. Being a mother has taught me a lot about myself and what I am capable of. I have never been more motivated.
I will admit it’s not the case for all young parents and yes there are some who avoid their responsibilities as parents and put them off on someone else while they do the things they want to do. However, that is not all of us. Some of us have had to sacrifice some of the things we enjoy and put that energy into helping our little ones grow and in the meantime some of us grow because of it.
I never imagined a couple years ago I would be able to work, make good grades in college and raise a son but here I am. It can be done. Being a young parent can be one of the greatest things to happen to some people in terms of growth and I hope others consider this the next time they come across a young parent.