By Lauren Mann of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
On the latest episode of "Teen Mom 2," the day finally came for Chelsea to graduate. She had worked so hard to complete her aesthetician program and was excited to start the career she’d always dreamed of. We felt like proud parents ourselves!
Finishing her education and starting a new job isn’t just good for Chelsea; it’s also important for Aubree to have a role model to look up to. When Chelsea became a mother, she had to grow up fast and place Aubree’s needs in front of her own. That meant putting school and her career goals on hold indefinitely. For the first few seasons of "Teen Mom 2," we saw Chelsea struggle to earn her GED, something fewer than 1 in 5 teen mothers who have a child before age 18 can achieve. But it was important to her to defy the odds, and eventually, she made it happen.
Chelsea also realized the importance of having a career and providing for her daughter. Research suggests that teen motherhood has a negative impact on employment and future earnings. It’s a sad fact that nearly half of mothers who give birth before age 20 live in poverty within the first year of their child’s birth. Given that fact, it’s not surprising that nearly two-thirds of teen mothers receive some type of public assistance within the first year after their children are born. Having a “real job” may make Chelsea feel old, but a steady source of income and financial security are crucial parts of being a parent.
As for being a good role model for Aubree, studies show that children of teen mothers tend to struggle more in school, have lower performance on standardized tests and are less likely to earn a high school diploma compared to the children of older mothers. By demonstrating what she expects of her daughter -- to get her high school diploma, continue her education and set career goals -- Chelsea’s behavior sets a standard to help Aubree also beat the statistics.
It may have taken her a little longer than non-parenting young adults, but it’s great that Chelsea feels like she’s finally on the right path and doing everything she dreamed of doing, all while being a mom and positive role model. For more on unplanned pregnancy and sexual health, check out the resources at MTV's It's Your Sex Life website.