By Lauren Mann of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
For Kailyn, Chelsea, Jenelle, and Leah, being a teen parent has been anything but easy. We’ve seen them struggle since the beginning, but we’ve also seen how lucky they are, especially with regard to the people in their lives. All four of these teen moms have friends and family around them who provide support to both them and their kids.
Chelsea is overwhelmed with school, parenting and finding a new place to live, and even though she’d love to leave town and make a clean break from Adam, she knows she’s not ready right now to move away from the friends and family that help her with Aubree. Similarly, whether she admits it or not, Jenelle relies heavily on her mother to be the primary caregiver for Jace, and will continue to do so until she earns back custody of him. As she’s recuperating from her surgery, she’s lucky to have people in her life who can take care of her until she’s on her feet again.
While Leah also has a supportive family, she’s truly fortunate that her kids’ father is so involved in their lives, and that she has a fiancé who is also fantastic with her girls. Kailyn doesn’t have a family to help her out, but Jo is devoted to Isaac and Javi is a solid and reliable guy. Many teen mothers aren’t as lucky. Most don’t marry or live with the father of their child, and one in three either don’t get along with their children’s fathers or they avoid each other completely.
But most teen mothers need more than just emotional support. Nearly nine out of ten teen mothers aren’t married when their child is born, less than a quarter receive any child support payments, nearly half of teen mothers live below the poverty line and nearly two-thirds of teen mothers receive some sort of public assistance within their child’s first year. It’s incredibly challenging to raise a child as a teen — physically, emotionally and especially financially.
+ Have you ever thought about who you’d be able to rely on if you had an unplanned pregnancy, or how you could support yourself and a child? Make a plan to protect yourself and delay getting pregnant until you’re ready. Check out bedsider.org or stayteen.org for more information.
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