My Story

Teenage Mothers Teenage Parenting

The best advice for single teenage mothers that I have is to not do it by yourself. You need help and lots of it; however, you need to be careful not to fall for the wrong kind of help. By this I mean,  guys who have ulterior motives, after all, that is how you ended up in the situation you're in right now. How do I know this? I have first hand experience with being a single teen mother. I was a teen mother at the ripe old age of 14 back in 1967 before it was acceptable. Back then they did not allow you to go to school pregnant nor did they have any programs or anything else.

That's right, teen mothers were ostracized and had to depend on family for help or had to make it the best way they could. I didn't receive any help from my family, in fact, they kicked me out. In the first few months after my daughter was born I stayed with the baby's grandmother on the dad's side. The father of the baby was in prison, but he did marry me before he got locked up. Yes, I was married at 14 by a justice of the peace in Celina, Tennessee. He got arrested when I was in my 7th month of pregnancy. Why did I marry this idiot? Well, once again, teenage mothers had no rights whatsoever all those years ago and if you weren't married they could simply make you give the baby up for adoption and I was not about to let them make me do anything.

If I would have had any sense I would have given the baby up for adoption, but I was a very rebellious teenager that wasn't about to let anybody take my baby away. It was all about me not letting anybody tell me what to do or not do. I was not thinking about what was best for the baby, since I was a baby myself emotionally and had no idea what it was going to be like raising a baby all by myself. By the way, the father got out of prison 5 years after she was born and never saw our daughter until she was 13, so it was me on my own working and trying to figure it all out.

I managed to get hired as a car hop at Steak n Shake by lying about my age, since I had a baby they assumed I was older anyway. The baby was born in February and I turned 15 in March, so at age 15 I had my first job. They didn't require ID or any of that in those days, so you applied and they pretty much hired you on the spot. I made 67 cents an hour plus tips, but the cost of living wasn't high back then, so it was enough to pay bills and a babysitter. I had to take the bus for the first 6 months to work then bought an old beat up car and drove with no driver's license for 3 years.

As teenage mothers go I wasn't a good one. I was clueless and didn't have the time or resources to learn parenting skills. My time was spent working and running around with stupid guys that were very similar to the baby's father. They were abusive and incapable of having a loving committed relationship just as I was. There was a lot of drinking, drugging and partying. We're in the 70's mind you and I thought I was hot in my mini skirts, hip huggers and crop tops. I hardly ever spent time with my daughter, but when I did we had fun times. She grew up with a friend instead of a mother.

This back fired on me when she became a teenager and began to act out just as I did at her age. I had been busy being her friend and didn't know how to guide her in the right direction. She wouldn't listen and by the age of 13 she decided she wanted to see her dad for the first time. Not long after, she moved in with him and I didn't see her for months. She came back though once she figured out it wasn't so easy or safe to live with him either. He was a career criminal and life wasn't any better for her there than it was with me or maybe worse.

 My daughter and I became friends again and by the age of 16 she had boyfriends spending the night and friends over to drink and party. I let her do these things at home thinking that it would be safer, since she was going to do it anyway, might as well know where she is. This was a big mistake, but in my state of mind at the time doing drugs and drinking myself I wasn't making very responsible decisions for myself let alone her. By the age of 19 she had her first child, which was my first grandson; there are three of them now all in their 20's. All three are in and out of jail hanging out on the streets drinking, drugging and wasting their life just as both she and I did.

If I had it to do all over again I would have given the baby up for adoption or possibly had an abortion, however, I would have had to have a back alley abortion because they were illegal at the time. There have been way too many huge mistakes made trying to raise a baby on my own at the age of 14. If you're reading this and are a teenage mother I can only advise you to seek wise counsel and get all the help that is available to you. Do not just wing it like I did.

Being a teenage mother is too big of a responsibility to do alone. I tried and failed miserably and ended up ruining my life as well as my daughter and grandkids. At this time my daughter is 46 and I am 60, so we made it, but I have mostly regrets instead of happy memories.