Teen pregnancy has the potential to completely change the lives of teens and those around them. Well-informed teens can be confident when making a decision to remain abstinent.
Empowering Youth Through Education
North Star Youth Partnership, a program of Catholic Charities, engages youth in recreational, leadership and service-learning opportunities to help them build confidence and choose healthy lifestyle behaviors. North Star’s Youth Task Force empowers 8th-12th grade students to contribute to their schools and communities in ways that educate others about teen pregnancy and other risky behaviors like using drugs and alcohol.
Youth Educator Lori Regnier, leader of the Gilbert Youth Task Force, wondered what her students wanted to know about teen pregnancy. After diving into the topic, her group decided to interview a teen mom.
“I love the real and raw questions that they asked and appreciate our mom, [who] was able to…make this experience life-changing for our students,” said Regnier.
The Story of a Teen Mom
Jessica* looked forward to the future ahead of her. She planned to finish high school, go to college and become a psychologist.
When Jessica found out she was pregnant, she experienced a mix of emotions. She felt excited because she knew she could be a capable mother but scared because she didn’t know how she was going to do it.
“I’ve always loved kids but the idea of having my own little human I was 100% responsible for was a little scary and intimidating,” she said.
Transitioning from Regular Teen to New Mother
Her parents were shocked and disappointed to hear the news, but she knew she had their support. Giving birth to her son was a type of pain that no one could prepare Jessica for, but her resilience surprised her. Jessica felt apprehensive for her new journey but comforted knowing she wasn’t alone.
Jessica’s mom quit her job and stayed home to help with childcare. Unfortunately, she didn’t receive any assistance from her son’s father. She had to rely on her parents’ financial support to pay for everything her son needed.
For the first year of her son’s life, Jessica felt torn between wanting to be a normal teen and needing to be there for her son. She went out a lot more than she wishes she had. She realized her son had to come first, so she picked up extra shifts at work and spent all her free time with him.
Advice on Abstinence
Although Jessica is grateful for her son, she struggled physically, mentally and emotionally as a teen mom. She also finds it difficult to co-parent with her son’s father, who chose to be a part of his life later on. Jessica is happily married now, and her son has an amazing stepfather, but she has some advice for teens.
“Remain abstinent until you are married. Once you share a child with someone, it’s forever, not just until the child is 18. The things I went through were tough, but they also shaped me into the mother that I am today. However, I would have respected myself more in choosing who I let into my world,” she said.
*Name changed to protect privacy.