Teens who are parents face a strong battle for rearing their children as well as fulfilling the other roles expected of them by society. Teens who are mothers must also become effective, contributing members of society. The second half of the goal, the marker of a teenager's main developmental goal, is a difficult task. Becoming both an effective parent and an effective young woman can often seem an insurmountable challenge. Fortunately, teen mothers can learn the basics of taking care of themselves and their child by being aware of skill sets they must learn and develop.
Being a teen mother isn't necessarily the same as being a bad mother. The situation may not be ideal, but teenagers can learn to be caring and effective parents.
Taking Care of Mom
Rearing children requires a diverse number of skills, both internal and external. When teenage girls discover they are going to be mothers, they often face depression, anxiety and feelings of low self-esteem. Teenage Mothers need to be proactive in their emotional health and seek out ways to increase their resistance to depression and other emotional needs. This can be partially accomplished by increasing the number of social connections the teen mother maintains which are supportive in nature. Also, reaching out to church or organizations can add new, much needed connections. Finally, smoothing over relationships with other family members should bring a renewed sense of assurance of help.
Learning Parenting Skills
Learning the skills a new baby demands of mother will no doubt be a crash course in reality for the teen mother. Teen mothers need to take advantage of "new mommy" classes often offered by social agencies such as the United Way. Also, more high schools and community agencies are conducting parenting skills courses teaching things from basic nutrition to home finance. Parenting skills are also offered through vocational agencies and community colleges in many agencies. Enrollment in WIC (Women, Infants and Children) assistance often will bring directions to these courses. WIC information can often be obtained by a call to 1-800-345-1942.
Earning a Living as a Mom
Teen mothers are expected to contribute to their own income and professional development. Although few jobs exist especially designed for teen mothers, all state and federal protections apply to teenage moms. When assessing a job, teen parents will need to remember to include a childcare plan in their working efforts. This includes relying on family members, local churches or houses of faith and other agencies to assist in watching the child for the teenage mom while she works. For teenage moms pursuing higher education, many colleges offer daycare programs or discounts with local daycare agencies.
Conquering High School
A special challenge to teen moms is finishing high school. Dramatic drop out rates have encouraged schools to open daycare programs as well as providing parenting classes. Everyone in society benefits if teen moms are able to graduate. Therefor, most areas support programs of some type in the high school arena. Check with the principal or superintendent's office for resources in specific areas.
Coping With Crying
A crying infant can be difficult for anyone to deal with. It's OK to leave the baby in his crib for a few minutes while you take a break. Call a friend, check your email, or paint your toenails--anything that will calm your nerves. Just be sure to stay in the house with the baby. It's never OK to leave him alone. If you have to, call a responsible person to stay with the baby for an hour or two.
How to Argue with Your Teen
Many parents don't allow arguing in their house. The truth is that much can be learned through a heated discussion. It works well if your learn to argue by the rules. Take time to learn to communicate effectively through arguing.
- Allow your teen to express how he is feeling. Even if you totally disagree with his point of view, do not interrupt. The same respect must be extended to you. Each of you should be able to express your opinion fully. Teach your teen how to disagree and argue with respect. Follow the argument through to a conclusion that both of you can live with.
During the process, each person should verbally repeat what he or she heard before expressing personal views. This will help avoid any misunderstandings.
- Argue with respect. Keep voices calm. Do not get physical, either bodily or by throwing things, stomping from the room or any other aggressive action. If the respect is lost, stop for awhile and begin when everyone has calmed down.
Do not allow name-calling or put downs to come out of your teen's mouth or yours.
- Focus on the problem. This is not a time to solve every problem you perceive with your child. Keep it simple by discussing one issue at a time.
- Ask questions but do not question each other's motives. Stick to the subject at hand and don't bring in past issues
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