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Teen Moms - A Persecuted Population?

The knock on the door surprised me. It was the middle of a sunny weekday afternoon, and my 6-month-old son slept peacefully in his crib while the toddler I cared for was playing with blocks on the floor.

When I opened the door, I knew that something was wrong. A woman dressed in a suit with a clipboard in hand identified herself as being from social services. They had received a report about my son, and she needed to see him right away.

My heart was in my throat as I woke my baby and carried him down to this woman, who undressed him, looking for evidence of abuse. Of course there was none, and fortunately my charming baby flirted and cooed and completely melted this woman.

No charges were filed, which was somewhat miraculous because a doctor at the clinic where I’d taken my son for shots had filed the report.

The clinic was not a good experience. Once the doctor learned I was barely 19, she became rude and condescending. She asked me to undress my son and place him on a metal examining table that didn’t even have a paper cover. The table was cold, and my son began to cry and shake a little. In a very patronizing tone, she said his shaking was a sign of a neurological issue. Though stunned by her words, I knew deep down that she just didn’t like me.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been judged for being a teenage mom.

Fortunately the incident with social services ended well. The social worker was able to prove that the doctor had lied by reporting that my son had deep scratches on his body. I emerged with a permanent desire to defend young mothers, who so often face judgment, disdain, and even false accusation.

Years later, as a successful professional who has been married to the father of that baby for 28 years, I still feel my heart in my throat when I remember that knock on the door. It makes me acutely sympathetic when one of our girls shares a story.

I was volunteering at Hope House when I passed out and had a seizure. An ambulance took me to the hospital. The doctor told me that I was abusing the system by going to the ER for a minor illness and sent me home. -Kelly

I tried to join this support group for babies born with the same birth defect that my son has. Everyone treated me different. I thought if I helped with their fundraiser they’d be nicer, but when they accused me of stealing, I just quit. -Christine

I hate my landlord. He keeps coming around to “check on things,” and then he gets all creepy and says stuff to me. I know he just thinks I’ll sleep with him because I’m a teen mom. - Abby

The next time you see a 16-year-old pushing a stroller in the mall, take note of your reaction.

Do you assume that the poor little guy in the stroller doesn’t even have a chance? That you can’t imagine he’s well cared for?

Even the kindest of us make assumptions about teen moms. Promiscuous. Irresponsible. Going nowhere. My tax dollars at work.

If you’re reading this and have an opinion, please make a comment. Maybe your sister, or a friend, or even you, yourself, were a teen mom, and you have your own story of harassment or discrimination.

Maybe you disagree with me completely, and you think that teen moms should be treated with a little suspicion… at least until they prove they are taking good care of their little one.

Either way, I’d like to start a dialogue and hear from each of you!

By Lisa Steven, Executive Director, Hope House of Colorado


Trisha and Brenda, thank you for your comments! I am so excited to start a conversation that will reveal the misconceptions many people believe about teen mothers. I want to shine a light on the tremendous strength, perseverance and positive attitudes many teen moms possess - making them amazing employees, students, and mothers!
Posted By Lisa | 4/28/14 05:58 PM
Thanks for sharing this, Lisa. I have a family member who is very discriminatory towards teen moms.I have come to dread holidays because I have such a hard time being around him when I get so passionate and he is so narrow-minded about it. I would love to hear what other people do when they feel they have to "defend" teen moms to people like this.
Posted By Trisha | 4/28/14 03:49 PM
This is so true Lisa! As a teen mom (pregnant at 17) I was told all the things I'd "never accomplish", how I'd be on welfare, my baby girl would grow to become a teen mom herself, etc etc. The list was long and came from many people I'd loved and respected most in my life, many in position of authority at our church. I'm proud to say that none of them were true. I am a successful professional (VP at a global company) with a beautiful 26 year old daughter who is a degreed professional herself. We made it, because of the few who chose to show me kindness and helped me prove the others wrong. It is for this reason that I love Hope House and will help in any way I can, for as long as I am able. For the people that loved me when others chose to look down on me, I am eternally grateful.
Posted By Brenda | 4/28/14 01:32 PM
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Blog Archives

January 2018

Organizational Growth Cycles: Stages that Lead to a Mature Nonprofit - 01/23/2018

November 2017

Knowledge Share #19: Creating Unity: The Power of Mealtime - 11/20/2017

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Knowledge Share #18: The Power of Networking - 10/12/2017

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Knowledge Share #16: Personalized Learning - The Cornerstone of our GED Program - 07/18/2017

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Knowledge Share #15: Special Needs and Special Moms - 06/08/2017

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Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children - 04/18/2017

March 2017

Knowledge Share #13: Managing Volunteers: Benjamin Franklin had it right! - 03/13/2017

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Knowledge Share #12: Advocacy and Self-Sufficiency: Finding the Balance - 02/14/2017

January 2017

Knowledge Share #11: Effective PR and Spot On Communications - 01/18/2017

November 2016

Knowledge Share #10: I Walk the Line: Creating Deep Connections While Maintaining Professional Boundaries - 11/15/2016

September 2016

Knowledge Share #9: "Fundraising for Non-Profits: An Insider's Perspective" - 09/22/2016

August 2016

Knowledge Share #8: Breaking Out of Poverty - 08/18/2016

July 2016

Knowledge Share #7: Creating a Home - 07/11/2016

June 2016

Knowledge Share #6: The Power of Mindset - 06/14/2016

May 2016

Knowledge Share #5: College or Bust! - 05/17/2016

April 2016

Knowledge Share #4:Understanding Addiction - 04/07/2016

March 2016

Knowledge Share #3:Mentoring Empowers Teen Moms - 03/21/2016

February 2016

Knowledge Share #2: Healthy Relationships - 02/11/2016

January 2016

Knowledge Share #1: Brain Development - 01/12/2016

December 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #8: Communicating the Barriers - 12/16/2015

October 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #7: Homelessness - 10/09/2015

July 2015


June 2015

Teen Mom Barrier Number #5: Domestic Violence - 06/03/2015

May 2015

Teen Mom Barrier # 4 The Challenges of College - 05/12/2015

April 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #3: The Unexpected Bill: Car Repair, Doctor's Visit, Broken Pipe - 04/03/2015

February 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #2: Childcare - 02/18/2015

January 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #1: Society's Negative Expectations - 01/26/2015

December 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #7: Teen Moms Are Completely Self-Absorbed - 12/29/2014

October 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #6: Teen moms drop out of school because they want to - 10/31/2014

September 2014

Teen Mom Misconceptions #5: Success is Impossible - 09/22/2014

July 2014

Misconception #4: Shaming Teen Moms is an Effective Approach - 07/22/2014

June 2014

Misconception #3: Mentoring Teen Moms is Complicated - 06/05/2014

May 2014

Because they want someone to love them? - 05/21/2014

April 2014

Teen Moms - A Persecuted Population? - 04/22/2014

March 2014

Connecting across the Continents: Teen Moms and the People Who Love Them - 03/18/2014

February 2014

Can you break out of poverty with a vocabulary of just 900 words? - 02/17/2014

January 2014

Community - 01/20/2014

December 2013

8 Pennies - 12/18/2013

November 2013

"The most courageous young women I know." - 11/14/2013

September 2013

Our Graduates: In their hands, they hold the future! - 09/30/2013

August 2013

The Cliff Effect and Other Perils on the Journey to Self-Sufficiency - 08/30/2013

July 2013

Breaking the Cycle: Do Poor Teens Have to Become Poor Adults? - 07/30/2013

June 2013

Measuring the Intangible - 06/15/2013

May 2013

Grown-Up Mom - 05/01/2013


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