I think part of the reason young moms have such a difficult time coping with the changes parenthood presents is because there are a lot of myths about their experiences that simply aren’t true. Here are some common misconceptions about young parenthood as well as the uplifting, enlightening truths that debunk them.
Myth: You can’t complete your education.
Truth: While it may make sense to complete your high school and college education on a different timeline than you would have without a baby, you absolutely can — and should — get your degree(s).
The reason this is such a rampant stereotype is because many teen mothers drop out of high school in order to care for their baby. And as their child grows, it often feels harder and harder to go back to school or even get a GED.
The wonderful truth of the matter is that it’s never too late to get your high school diploma, and you can even earn it at home and at your own pace. That means you can study just as easily during the day when your baby is napping as you can after a late-night feeding that’s left you wide awake. Many GED programs even allow you to attend a graduation ceremony, which is a wonderful way to toast your hard-earned milestone.
If you think you don’t have time to get a college education, think again, even if you opt not to attend classes at school. Thanks to the internet, college has become more accessible than ever, and should you want an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degree (or beyond), you can earn one from a local or national university in the comforts of home. You can even take a mix of on-site classes and online classes, which is a wonderful option for those who can’t make it to more than a few lectures a week but still want a more traditional college experience.
These days, more and more people are earning their high school and college diplomas later in life for a variety of reasons, so take heart in knowing that you’ll be in good company when seeking your education. It may be hard work, and it may not happen the way you’d planned it to, but in doing so, you’re actively working toward a brighter future for both you and your child.
Myth: You’ll only be eligible for dead-end jobs.
Truth: Any woman who becomes a mother at a young age has the opportunity to have a long, successful career in whichever field she’s passionate about.
Earning a high school diploma is a great way to expand your horizons, and there are obviously certain career paths that require you to have some sort of college degree, such as medical or law practice. That’s why if you want a career that requires advanced education, you owe it to yourself to get it.
But no matter your level of education, your dream job doesn’t have to be out of reach. Experience counts for a lot, so finding a way to be involved in the workforce in your desired field can help you work your way up to a higher position. Many managers who run retail stores began their careers by working in the stockroom or on the sales floor, and many of the world’s best chefs learned their skills by working as line cooks when they started out. No matter what your dreams are, they can happen for you.
Many young moms also create their own successful businesses with the help of sales sites like Etsy, ArtFire and even Amazon, or provide services like babysitting, pet sitting, dog walking or personal transport whenever their schedules allow.
Myth: Money will always be a struggle.
Truth: Most people — no matter their background — go through at least one phase in life where money is tight, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent situation.
You don’t need me to tell you that if you’re able to work even part-time, your financial burden will lift. I know — it’s easier said than done! But what you may need to hear from someone who had a baby when she was still a child herself is that with time and planning, your situation can get better. Additionally, there are a lot of programs that provide assistance to young mothers to help them make ends meet when times are tough (check out our Practical Tips for Young Moms page for a list).
Myth: You’ll have to give up your social life.
Truth: Like many aspects of your life, your social relationships may change once your baby comes, but you won’t be isolated.
Friends come and go no matter what your path in life is, and it’s true that friends not willing to stick out times of transition and difficulty with you aren’t worth having. Young moms are constantly surprised by the love and support they and their babies receive from friends, so don’t think that your pregnancy and the birth of your baby spell the end of the relationships you value most.
With that in mind, many of them will change, and that’s OK. Your coffee dates at your favorite cafe probably won’t happen as frequently anymore (or at least not without a baby in tow), but you can invite your bestie to share a cup of joe with you at home. You may not be able to grab a drink with your co-workers at the end of a long workday without notice, but you can plan a post-work get-together in advance and line up childcare. In both cases, the event itself may not look the same as it did prior to having your baby, but you can still find ways to spend time with the people you treasure.
You’ll also make a lot of new friends at this stage in life. There are all kinds of mommy-and-me classes that allow parents to socialize without having to track down a babysitter, and as your child grows, you’ll meet parents at school and extracurricular functions. And while you’ll be glad to bond with people who understand the demands of parenthood, the idea that you can’t be friends with the people you knew before baby simply isn’t true.
Myth: You’ll never go on a date again.
Truth: You can, will and should pursue a healthy, fulfilling relationship when you’re ready (and if that’s what you want) — and anyone would be lucky to have you.
This is true whether you stay in a relationship with your baby’s father or if you decide not to be romantically involved with each other. Young moms who have a partner often feel too exhausted or overwhelmed to spend quality time with their significant other. Those who are single often feel too fatigued to pursue a new relationship or don’t think anyone is willing to take on the responsibility of dating someone with a child.
There is no bond quite like that between a mother and her child. Focusing on a romantic relationship can sometimes bring feelings of guilt, whether you have a newborn and you’re trying to plan a date night with your baby’s father or have a three-year-old and are pursuing a relationship with someone new. It’s important to pick a partner who will love and accept both you and your little one. If you’ve already found him or her, don’t feel bad for wanting to nurture that relationship. If you haven’t, I promise you that you will. You are a strong, brave woman who has a lot to offer — and your baby is a bonus.
Myth: You’ll have no support.
Truth: Even if your family and friends aren’t offering their support, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to receive the emotional and financial reinforcement you need.
In addition to the many financial assistance programs available to young and/or single mothers and their children, there are support groups and even counseling programs geared toward those having difficulties coping with the new demands of parenthood.
Myth: You have to do this journey alone.
Truth: You will NEVER be alone — if nothing else, you and your child will always have each other.
There will be difficult days, of course, as there are with any adventure. But you do not have to do this alone, and there is no shame in reaching out for whatever support you need. You’ll be surprised at how willing people are to give it.
It’s also important to remember that the role of motherhood, no matter what age you experience it, is inherently one that requires one other very special little person — your baby. You two will truly grow together in ways that older parents simply aren’t able to do with their little ones, and your bond will be unlike any other you’ve ever experienced. There may be lonely days, but you and your child will never go it alone, because you will always have each other.