Posts Tagged ‘teen mom’

[Lessons From A Student Mama] The Mistake Of Trying To Do Too Much While Balancing School And Family

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For years before I graduated from college in 2011 I imagined my graduation day.

I’d wrap myself in a long gown, and attempt to fight back tears, tears of years of sacrifice and struggle. Trying to steady myself on the seemingly long walk to the stage to accept my diploma I’d search in the crowd for my loved ones and my daughter waving frantically wanting to ensure her Mommy saw her. I’d close my eyes, hear my name and slowly walk on the stage, praying I wouldn’t fall. With a frantically beating heart I’d smile wide all while thinking I did it. I did it. I finally did it.

My graduation day was a dream I had ever since I re-enrolled in college two years after my daughter was born.

Every student dreams about their Graduation day, a day of celebration and excitement. It can seem out of your reach when you’re in the midst of studying for exams and burning the midnight oil. And for those who juggle parenthood and employment alongside being a student the journey to securing a degree can at times seem daunting. That image of walking across the stage to accept my college diploma was, at times, the only thing that kept me from walking away from pursuing a higher education.

As I look back at the five total years I spent being a student, I’m in complete awe that I was able to prioritize my education. Though I had two older siblings that were in college, it wasn’t something that was ever pushed on me or encouraged. I figured I should go because I didn’t want to be stuck in my small town forever, but I didn’t take it seriously. It wasn’t until after I had my daughter that I realized having a degree would open more doors and could help me provide a brighter future for us.

 

Read the rest of [Lessons From A Student Mama] The Mistake Of Trying To Do Too Much While Balancing School And Family over on The Young Mommy Life.



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Pursuing an Education while Parenting Young

Walking across the stage last September to accept my diploma was the 2nd happiest day in my life. The first being the day my daughter was born J Few people truly understand the struggle it was to complete my education, work full-time, and be the best parent I could be – alone. Prior to having my daughter at 19 I had completed a year of college, but was convinced it wasn’t for me and waited until my daughter was around a 1½ before returning back to school. Sacrifice doesn’t even begin to explain it. When I first re-enrolled my life was a mess, I was living in an illegal apartment, and then I moved over two hours away. I woke up at 5am with my young daughter and commuted over two hours each morning and afternoon with her to fulfill my responsibilities at work and school. Many mornings she cried the whole train ride. Many mornings I cried along with her. But, I was not meant to break, I was meant to succeed. So I stuck with it, often with no support, and never once did I think I would actually make it to graduation day.

So when I was approached by my friend Natasha from STEPPS Boston about hosting one of their weekly Twitter chats on pursuing an education while parenting young, I was nervous! STEPPS (Summit for Teen Empowerment, Progress, and Parenting Success) is a phenomenal organization in Boston working with teen parents with the goal of increasing the communication between young parents and the organizations and agencies that serve them. Reflecting back on my challenging education road, I didn’t think there was much I could share with young parents, why would they listen to me? Then I thought about myself during the six years I struggled being a student. I thought of the countless nights and weekends spent studying, shutting down from the world, wishing I had someone to talk with, someone who understood. I thought of going to bed late after an all-night cram session and seeing my daughter sleeping so peacefully, reminding me of my purpose, of my mission. I thought of my daughter’s face as I nervously walked past her on the way to the stage to get my diploma, saw her million dollar smile. I remembered her telling me how proud she was of me. I then realized I had something to share with other young parents.

There is no motivation but you when considering higher education being a young parent. You can want it, can dream about it, but if you are unwilling to put in the work you won’t ever get what you want. What was really important to me during the chat was to be REAL, it ain’t all roses, it’s hard and you are going to want to give up, just like I did. I felt extremely guilty not being with my daughter the days and nights I was at school, thought I was a terrible mother. But, you’ve got to stay focused on the bigger picture. What do you want for you and your family in the future?

I was so thrilled to hear so many people taking in what I was saying in the chat, they asked questions, they shared, and I think hope they felt inspired. The same frustrations that were shared about juggling and financial aid felt so familiar to me, because I felt the same, but by even having the opportunity to come together over twitter and talk and build community is crucial, and something I wish I had while in college.

Thank you to all of the wonderful young parents who joined the chat and were so open about sharing their experiences. Click HERE to learn more about STEPPS Boston. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter. And if you are in the Boston area be sure to check out their Summit on June 27th!



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Interview with Nicole Lynn Lewis

I came across Nicole Lynn Lewis’s site last year, and ever since then I’ve been a huge fan of hers. Shes a mother, author, wife, businesswoman, public speaker, and former teen mom. She inspires me and continues to pay it forward everyday. 


Below is a part of my interview with Nicole:


I think you have to turn setbacks into challenges. Don’t let them stop you in your tracks. Look at the problem and try to think of a solution. You can either accept your situation or you can decide that you want more for yourself and work your way out of it. It’s going to be difficult and embarrassing at times and people are going to doubt you, but if you are able to turn your story into a testimony, the rewards are great. Not only do you change the course of your life, but you inspire others, and that’s an amazing feeling. It’s special. 


Head over to The Pushback and read my entire interview with Nicole!


http://www.nicolelynnlewis.com/
http://www.supportgenerationhope.org/



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Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy’s 2010 Teen Pregnancy Institute: Expecting Success for Youth and Young Families

As a former teen parent, I love to hear about and get involved with organizations in my area whose mission is to support teen parents especially on the policy level. When I heard about the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, I knew I needed to get involved somehow. I’ve recently been added to the contributors on their blog The Pushback.
More about The Pushback:
We know the stereotypes and prejudices that teen parents have to face — but we also know the truth. We know that teen parents can be capable caregivers and fabulous role models for their children. We know that, with support, they can achieve academically and professionally. We know young families can be successful.
This space is to push back against all that ignorance, bitterness, and prejudice and show what young parenthood really looks like.
When I heard about The Alliance’s 2010 Teen Pregnancy Institute: Expecting Success for Youth and Young Families I knew I had to attend. The Alliance’s 12th annual conference was a full day event packed with information, workshops, collaboration, and advice on how providers can better serve and aide the youth and young families they serve. The majority of attendees were those that work directly with youth and their families in teen parent services, teen pregnancy prevention, family planning, education, and early childhood education. There was also a special screening of The Gloucester 18. Remember the highly publicized suspicion of 18 girls in Gloucester, MA making a pregnancy pact to get pregnant around the same time and raise their children together? The documentary was truthful, honest, and dispelled all the rumors regarding the supposed pregnancy pact. It’s a must watch for all teens and youth and family workers.
I signed up for the following workshops: 
 
A: Helping Young Families Access Emergency Assistance Family Shelter, Prevention, and Re-housing Resources
B: Youth Activism: A Tool for Self-Empowerment
C: Teen Parent Panel
All were amazing and extremely informative and enlightening. The workshop I enjoyed most was the Teen Parent Panel. The panel of 4 former teen mothers was asked questions that came from the audience about their experience being a teen parent. The 4 all come from various backgrounds and experiences, and one, Natasha Vianna, a fellow blogger at The Pushback, has recently become a friend. I cringed hearing some of their stories, because I had such similar stories hidden away. The panel discussed reactions from their parents when they told them they were pregnant and the weight of outside influences during and after pregnancy. They also offered some advice to other teen parents, and the one I really bonded with was when one stated that we have to seek out help and become our own best advocates. We are the ones able to change ourselves and our circumstances; we cannot expect someone to change our life for us. We have to speak out for what we want and be willing to work and sacrifice for it. When asked what is the first step to a successful teen mom they agreed that an education is what is most important. 

Natasha and I at the end of the conference
There is sooo much more I can post about the workshop, but I wanted to give a brief overview of the conference and some of the information that was shared. I may write another post focusing on the workshops themselves and what I learned from them. The Massachusetts Alliance is a phenomenal organization and I encourage you all to visit them on the web and follow them on Twitter and/or Facebook.
Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy Contact information:


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Domestic Violence is Never The Answer

As a younger mommy I try to stay in tune with other young mommies. But, when I heard about all these shows on MTV like Teen Mom and 16 & Pregnant, I honestly didn’t care. I think I’ve maybe watched 10 minutes of each of these shows and turned the channel, it’s a “reality” show that I just wasn’t able to connect with.
There seems to be a lot of positive and negative support regarding these shows and the younger moms portrayed in them. I’ve recently seen them cover magazines, but the latest buzz around these shows is extremely unfortunate.
It started when I was over visiting Tara at The Young Mommy Life, she wrote a post Is domestic violence ever entertaining? Apparently one of the teen moms has been engaging in violence with her boyfriend/daughter’s father Gary. And to answer Tara’s question: NO, domestic violence is NEVER entertaining. EVER.
Then today I came across an article written by Tracy Clark-Flory titled Domestic abuse on “Teen Mom,” Again. Apparently, the violence between Amber and Gary has continued and from what I read has escalated, with their innocent daughter often having to witness their parent’s fights. Now, Tracy brought up an EXCELLENT point when she said,
“I can’t help wondering what the public reaction would be if the direction of the violence in their relationship was reversed. It’s hard to imagine comparable male-on-female violence continuing to air, season after season, without major outcry or intervention.”
When I hear and think of domestic violence it is always a man engaging in violence against a woman. As a society, men are (generally) taught that you should never lay your hands on a woman! But, are we women taught to keep our hands off of men? I honestly feel that it is more socially acceptable for a woman to beat up a man than for a man to beat up a woman. Maybe it’s because women are categorized as weak and dainty and men are thought of to be strong and aggressive. But I can guarantee you that if Amber’s daughter’s father was the attacker and aggressor (maybe he is, but from what I have read he’s not) than MTV would.not.air.those.episodes. And that makes me question society’s value system.
According to A Hidden Crime: Domestic Violence Against Men Is a Growing Problem violence against men is a widely growing problem, but there is a lack of research on this growing trend. Yet, “half of all domestic violence cases involve an exchange of blows and the remaining 50% is evenly split between men and women who are brutalized by their partners.” Hmmm, funny how we, the public are usually only told or outraged over a man victimizing a woman.

What is also interesting to note is that when domestic violence against a man is brought to light, “as in the case of actor Phil Hartman — the focus tends to shift to mental illness.” Whattttt!!!!
Violence against women is wrong.
Violence against men is wrong.
Violence is never the answer.
We as a society have to stop viewing domestic violence as an act solely aimed at abusing and hurting women. Violence happens everywhere in all types of interpersonal relationships, and each should be treated seriously.

What are your thoughts? Why do you think society has an easier time showing violence towards men but not towards women?


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