Creating a New Narrative
One of She’s Got Grit’s long term visions for the future is changing the view society has regarding young motherhood. The exstensive history of using negative language used in policies and campaigns created a stigma that ‘Teen Pregnancy’ has is as a problem that needs solving. The truth is, the fact that I am a mother, and anyone else who had their child young, is not a problem and should not be talked as if it is one. This language is harmful and creates implicit bias that affects all aspects of a young mom’s life. It’s time to change the way we treat parents who have their children young. In order to do this we have to understand what brought us to our current status. Educating ourselves and others about historical wrongdoings that contribute to current stigmas and barriers still present is the first step.
Second Class Mothers
Below is a brief overview of my paper written on the topic of implicit bias and its effect the lives of young parents.
The human brain takes in and sorts information in specific ways that can make us susceptible to accepting and developing implicit bias, one of these ways being recognizing patterns and associations. Routinely being bombarded with negative input surrounding teen parents from various sources like public health officials, television shows, and government officials, etc., all with the same message of condemning teen parents as “a societal concern that needs fixing”, leaves a mark on society about how we should feel about them. Stigma and public policy are connected and continuously affect one another and influences all aspects of society and the lives mothers all across the country.When the leaders of the United States failed to support their constituents and were receiving pushback, they used teen pregnancy as a political scapegoat. They moved the blame onto people who had no political advocates and teen Pregnancy was then made into a large-scale ‘societal and moral issue’. Governmental organizations started creating large scale media and political campaigns aimed to shame teen parents, specifically teen mothers. It’s imperative to challenge the narrative directing the negative focus on-to teenage parenthood and take a deep dive into the effects we see presently and where they will take us in the future. We have seen that there has been no action to support these mothers with resources to help them raise their children with dignity. Stigma and stereotypes created by the government’s actions have made every aspect of teen mother’s difficult. If we want to improve high school graduation rates among teen parents, we need to systematically support them with programs and scholarships where the mother's who want to graduate high school have resources to do so. There are countless scholarships for mothers attending college providing them the resources for sucsess, but not for the essential stepping stone to get there like high school is. I do not want to be a part of the 2% of teen mothers who could complete a bachelor's degree by 30; I want to be a part of the 100% of teen mothers who wanted a bachelor's degree and got one. There needs to be an end to the mistreatment and disrespect towards teen mothers; Teen mothers are not second-class mothers to those who had their firstborn older than 19, so let us stop acting like they are.
Full paper of ‘Second Class Mothers’ attached
In order to change the view of soceity we need to start first with changing the language we use to teach about the topic of parenthood at a young age, the current language used in health education and other media is harmful. Secondly we need to open a line of communication about real mothers telling their stories about parenting at a young age. Mainstream society needs to learn that age does not determine capability of being a good parents and more importantly is not a burden onto themselves and/or society at large.
Do You Want to Share Your Story?
If you are a parent who had their child between the ages of 14-18 and want to share your story, reach out! We would love to share your personal experience and story to start a positive narrative for young parents all over.