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Smother of the Teenage Mother


I was pretty appalled the other day when I tried to catch the bus home from school with my 18 month old son. Upon presenting my student ID to the driver I was told that I had to actually be attending school to use it. Ha! What a joke. Students who are wagging are able to use their IDs but I can’t? “I do attend school,” I reply matter-of-factly.


“But you have a baby.....”


Story of my life.


I have a child so I must be the “typical” teenage mother – sitting around all day bludging off the taxes of other hardworking people while I raise my child poorly with no values whatsoever.


Why is it that people are so quick to judge a teen mum? They instantly assume that we’re all bad mothers who couldn’t raise a child even if they came with instructions (they don’t, by the way, if any of you were unsure). It’s like my head teacher once said, “Assume only makes an ass out of u and me.” In all honesty I would actually think that assuming only makes an ass out of you. But hey, it’s not my saying.


In our society today, teenage mothers are often portrayed negatively. God forbid any of them would be able to juggle attending school with a job and raising a child. Apparently only older mums can do that. Oh how I would love to burst the bubble of ignorance that some people live their lives in. “News Flash! Teen Mums are Not All the Same!”


I am in my final year at Eden Campus, a teen parent unit that gives young mums a second chance at their education. It is one of four units in the Auckland region. From this school a number of girls have completed their NCEA studies. Many have gone on to do great things. Shona Tames, an ex-Eden Campus student, is now a registered midwife, and other ex- students are studying health science, business, law and nursing at universities and institutes across Auckland. Now, who said young mothers never make anything of themselves?


I do agree, to an extent, that some mothers (not all young I might add) do take advantage of being able to claim a benefit and then sit around all day feeding their children things low in nutrients. But some of us actually want to make a life for ourselves and our children. Not all of us want to be struggling to make ends meet in the future, nor do we want to be relying on a guy (who may or may not be in the picture) to “bring home the bacon.”


Speaking of guys. For some reason I always thought it took two people to make a baby. Apparently society overlooks this because I can’t recall ever hearing teen dads being subjected to the degrading and insulting things that young mothers are forced to put up with. Why not? I mean, my partner is a great father to my son and I wouldn’t force any of the opinions people have of me onto him. But why is it that only teen mums are portrayed negatively? Society really has it in for us, doesn’t it?


I guess it doesn’t come as a surprise in the politically correct world we live in today. Abstinence is what we were taught at school. Come on now. Do you really think a bunch of hormonal teenagers are all going to wait for “the one” when it comes to sex? Thank goodness they’ve moved on to talking about prevention and protection (although this does fall on deaf ears sometimes).


Anyway, back to the point. Most of us get ourselves into this situation, but for others it isn’t always the case. I’m not saying we should embrace the situation we are in, but it would be nice if we were acknowledged for at least trying to make a life for our children and giving up our teenage lifestyle to put them first. I’m not sure how many ways I can put it but NOT ALL TEEN MUMS ARE THE SAME.


I can’t stress that one point enough. There are teen mums out there who have stepped up to the plate and are great mothers. For others, there’s always time. But it is clear that society’s views need to change. Maybe then, teen mums like myself and others at Eden Campus will be the rule rather than the exception. Until then I guess I’ll have to feed my child innutritious foods, teach him inappropriate language and neglect him whilst I apply for a benefit and check my facebook page – all in the name of fitting in with society’s expectations of a “typical” teen mum.



Kelsi

EDEN CAMPUS - SCHOOL FOR YOUNG PARENTS

16 NGAURUHOE STREET, MT EDEN, AUCKLAND 1024, NEW ZEALAND

KAREN DONNELLY, HEAD TEACHER - kdonnelly@aggs.school.nz

KATHLEEN RUSTON, ADMINISTRATOR ELC - edencampuselc@aggs.school.nz

PHONE: 09-638 3412

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