Friday, April 17, 2015

Why Teen Moms Matter

When I first met Tricia Goyer, I was the editor on a picture book she had written, followed shortly by the teen nonfiction book, My Life Unscripted. That book revealed a common thread between editor and author: we had both had babies when we were teenagers. 

I've followed Tricia ever since. From her bazillion books that she's written to her ever-growing adoptive family to her help with Teen MOPS and the founding of a pregnancy crisis center, she is a woman on a mission from God. (No Blues Brothers joking here. She is for real.)

One of those missions--one that we both relate to all too well--is to be a resource to teen moms, to remind the world that teen moms matter. And one of those resources is her latest book: Teen Mom: You're Stronger Than You Think.

Please, take a minute to read from Tricia herself about what a difference we can make in the life of a teen mom. Tricia and I are living proof that teen moms--and the way that we treat teen moms--really do matter.

I had my first baby when I was seventeen. It was hard, but I can’t imagine how a young mom who’s living in New York City feels these days. Have you seen the posters plastered all over the subways in the media? One shows a crying baby and reads, “I’m twice as likely not to graduate from high school because you had me as a teen.”

While it’s true that having a baby as a teen is hard, choosing to have the baby IS a good decision. It’s a selfless, caring decision that will give the child a future, planned or not.

Instead of trying to shame a teen mom, what if you, me, we . . . supported her? Would her child still be a sad statistic if there was a group of men and women who educated her, inspired her, and offered her hope?

That’s what happened to me. A group of older woman came alongside me. They taught me about being a mom. They made me feel as if I had value. They saw my child as a gift. They painted a bright future. Because of them, my confidence as a mom grew. My confidence as a woman grew. I married, and I birthed two more children. Where are those kids now? My oldest son is a college graduate with a great job, a wife, and a child. My daughter spent time in Europe teaching English and is getting married this year! My younger son is in college and getting straight A’s. Not only that, my husband and I have adopted three little ones and are in the process of adopting four sisters! I also mentor teen mothers, just as those women mentored me.

I could have been a statistic, but instead a group of women offered to impart hope into my heart. Now I impart hope into others, not only through mentoring, but through books. I’m forty-one years old, and I have thirty-seven published books from publishers such as Harper Collins and Random House. I impart hope through parenting books and even through my novels. In fact my new release, Teen Mom: You’re Stronger Than You Think, challenges young moms to discover herself, the reason for her life, and be more than just a statistic.

Maybe today . . . or tomorrow . . . you might have a young women come to you for advice after she discovers she’s pregnant. Don’t point her to a NYC subway sign. Instead, here’s a few ways you can help:

  1. Remain calm and loving. Your young friend most likely feels alone, frightened, and extremely sensitive about her pregnancy. The most important thing you can offer is your continued friendship.
  2. Show God’s love and forgiveness. Your young friend was looking for love by giving herself intimately to a guy. Now she might feel ashamed and unworthy of love at all. Point her to God, who loves her unconditionally.
  3. Celebrate life. She may consider this baby a “mistake”—a barrier between her and “normal” life. Lovingly remind her that no matter how the baby was conceived, he or she is a gift from God.
  4. Be available to share . . . and to listen. Your young friend has many big decisions to make, and although you can’t make those decisions for her, you can be available to help her consider her options. Share information you’ve discovered on fetal development and on the physical and emotional trauma of abortion. Most of all, be willing to listen to her deepest concerns.
  5. Find help. Your young friend is most likely in need of more answers than you can give. Visit a local crisis pregnancy center with your friend, or call CareNet for help at 1-800-395-HELP. Encourage her to tell her parents and to seek the counsel of a pastor or youth pastor.
Yes, the young woman and her baby in your life will face a hard road ahead. But with your help, encouragement, and gift of hope you can help her to also blow the teen pregnancy statistics out of the water.

Just trust me: you'd be surprised at the impact those five simple things can have on a teen mom's life. And I'd like to add two more to that list:
  1. Take a copy of Teen Mom to your church, small group leader, local high school or pregnancy center. Someone there needs to hear these words.
  2. Download this free printable and share it with those same groups. 

A teen mom may not have the strength or perspective to make it through, to see that they are valued children of God. But we can, we do, and we should. Please, join us in reminding teen moms that they truly do matter.

(See Tricia's original post here.)

No comments: