Older Moms Need to Stop Judging Younger Moms

young momThe stars of 16 and Pregnant have nothing on the family featuring one of England's youngest sets of grandparents ever: 29-year-old Shem Davies and 30-year-old Kelly John, whose 14-year-old daughter Tia just gave birth to her own daughter, Gracie (dad is boyfriend Jordan Williams, age 15). Apparently, grandpa looks so young that maternity ward nurses made him prove he was over 16 ... when he went to visit his own granddaughter!

Is your head spinning yet? I'll admit, this family takes young parenthood to an extreme, and I'm not saying teen pregnancy is a tradition you want to pass on to your kids or anything. But I will say that having her parents' support (the new grandparents are reportedly "overjoyed") is going to make a huge difference in Tia's life, and she could very well turn out to be a great mom ... even though she'll likely be branded as otherwise for the rest of her life.

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Let me stress, one more time, that I'm not advocating teen pregnancy as the best way to start a family, but I am sympathetic to the stigma associated with being a young mom. And I don't think it's fair -- or constructive -- to judge a mother based on her age, means, or circumstances alone. It's true that young moms' pregnancies aren't often planned, but just because a pregnancy isn't "planned" doesn't mean the resulting child is a "mistake," and that's how young moms are forever treated: As if they made a mistake.

I was by no means a teenager when I had my first baby, but I was definitely on the young side by modern standards, particularly in NYC, where I lived at the time: 24 years old. I was at least 10 years younger than most of the other women in my mom-and-baby yoga class; the same was true of the New Moms' Circle at my birthing center. I vividly remember the stares and the whispers ... and how one woman tried to pin her curiosity about my age on her toddler: "My daughter was just wondering how many candles you're going to put on your birthday cake, but she's too shy to ask you." Really??

My mother gave birth to me at 25, which was not so uncommon in the '70s, but she always looked a good decade or so younger than her years. The reactions she experienced were similar to mine. Again, I vividly remember the stares and the whispers when she picked me up at school, how moms of my classmates eyed her with suspicion -- and me, as if I were a time bomb set to turn into a Bad Influence at any moment.

So my heart goes out to girls like Tia, because no matter how awesome of a mom she turns out to be, she'll always have to deal with the misconception that her baby's birth was poorly timed, i.e., a mistake. And there is no implication more hurtful to a mom or damning to a child. Guess what, everybody? The baby is here now. No need to slap a scarlet "T" for "teen mom" on the girl's chest. Let's make this work.

Do you think teen moms like Tia deserve a chance?

 

Image via Michael_Swan/Flickr

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