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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
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Knowledge Share #7: Creating a Home - 07/11/2016
Knowledge Share #6: The Power of Mindset - 06/14/2016
Knowledge Share #5: College or Bust! - 05/17/2016
Knowledge Share #4:Understanding Addiction - 04/07/2016
Knowledge Share #3:Mentoring Empowers Teen Moms - 03/21/2016
Knowledge Share #2: Healthy Relationships - 02/11/2016
Knowledge Share #1: Brain Development - 01/12/2016
Teen Mom Barrier #8: Communicating the Barriers - 12/16/2015
Teen Mom Barrier #7: Homelessness - 10/09/2015
TEEN MOM BARRIER #6: GENERATIONAL POVERTY - 07/16/2015
Teen Mom Barrier Number #5: Domestic Violence - 06/03/2015
Teen Mom Barrier # 4 The Challenges of College - 05/12/2015
Teen Mom Barrier #2: Childcare - 02/18/2015
Teen Mom Barrier #1: Society's Negative Expectations - 01/26/2015
Teen Mom Misconceptions #5: Success is Impossible - 09/22/2014
Misconception #3: Mentoring Teen Moms is Complicated - 06/05/2014
Because they want someone to love them? - 05/21/2014
Teen Moms - A Persecuted Population? - 04/22/2014
Community - 01/20/2014
8 Pennies - 12/18/2013
"The most courageous young women I know." - 11/14/2013
Our Graduates: In their hands, they hold the future! - 09/30/2013
Measuring the Intangible - 06/15/2013
Grown-Up Mom - 05/01/2013
Misconception #4: Shaming Teen Moms is an Effective Approach
Eva said: I am so proud of Vanessa good friend of mine and mother. [more]