Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cosmo features images of teen moms with their kids

10 Beautiful Photos That Capture the Bond Between Teen Moms and Their Babies

"These teenage mothers referred to their babies as their saving grace."

Italian photographer Marta Giaccone relocated to Wales to get her master's in documentary photography. The weather was stifling, which made it hard for her to be creative. But then she noticed teenagers walking in the park with their babies and became captivated by how much responsibility they had at such a young age, she told Feature Shoot.
At first, the teen moms she approached were skeptical about being photographed. But Giaccone established relationships with a few women who eventually allowed her to take pictures of them with their children. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

How to tell society they are wrong about teen parents

Sometimes I run across an article online about teen pregnancy and parenting that REALLY stays with me and makes me "mmmhhmm" along as I read the piece. This article by Yamani, the former Executive Director of ICAH, did just that.

Basically she matter of factly tell people who disrespect and disregard teenage parents that they need to stop that and that they need to examine the bigger societal issues that can play a part in causing unintended teenage pregnancies and what keeps teen parents from succeeding how they want to.



This week, in Sierra Leone, all but “visibly pregnant girls” are welcome to return to school after nine months of the Ebola crisis. The government has banned these girls from attending school, due to the “negative impacts they will have on innocent girls”. Innocent girls. Think about that for a second. Juxtaposing pregnant and non-pregnant girls places value on one group and not the other. More specifically, in this case, pregnant equals not-innocent…as in guilty. But what are they guilty of exactly? Wanting pleasure? Having sex? Being raped? Becoming pregnant? Staying pregnant? Wanting to continue to learn while pregnant? What is it? It is time for adults to come to terms with the sexual health, sexual identities and sexual rights of youth. In particular, it is time for adults to stop punishing young women for their sexuality, and definitely for their own pregnancies. After all, they did not become pregnant on their own. When fathers are allowed to learn and mothers are pushed out of school, children and families suffer. Sierra Leone might be far away but similar societal judgment of pregnant youth is just as prevalent right here in our back yard, with grave consequences. 

While in the United States it is illegal to exclude people from school on the basis of sex, gender, and pregnancy status under Title IX, it doesn’t mean that pregnant students are welcomed at school. Often students do not know their rights under Title IX. In fact, most people don’t even know what Title IX is. If they do, it is only related to gender equity in sports, or sexual harassment in college. Frankly, many public school district administrators don’t know either.

She goes on to share what some teen parents were told by school officials once school officials found out the teens were pregnant. It's totally worth your time!

Read more at EBONY Click here

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What I Needed When I Was a Pregnant and Parenting Teen - Seleni

Over on Seleni.com I open up about my realities of being a pregnant and parenting teen dealing with depression and having very little to no emotional support. The piece is very honest, was hard for me to write, and a much needed reminder to all the teen parents other their that they are worthy of love, support, and healthy mental health. 

When I got pregnant and became a mother at 15, I experienced an overwhelming onslaught of disrespect and shame from family members, friends, and perfect strangers. 
I was a teenager dealing with an unintended pregnancy, a high school courseload, extracurricular activities, ob-gyn appointments, and friends and peers talking behind my back, all while trying to plan for my future and that of my unborn child. 
More than ever in my life, I needed emotional support. What I got was the complete opposite. Everyone seemed focused on making me feel that I had singlehandedly ruined not only my life but also the impending life of my unborn child. 
Society seems to think that pregnant and parenting teens must be punished and used for political prevention campaigns instead of being supported and treated as the full human beings we are. 
I felt alone, disrespected, and depressed with no understanding that my mental health was important. I didn't think I had any issues that needed to be addressed. That could not have been further from the truth.
- See more at: http://seleni.org/advice-support/article/what-i-needed-when-i-was-a-pregnant-and-parenting-teen#sthash.4bSlVSEH.dpuf

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

#NoTeenShame talks about "the talk" via SheKnows

I am part of a group called #NoTeenShame.

#NoTeenShame is a movement led by 7 young mothers (Natasha, Jasmin, Gloria, Consuela, Lisette, Christina, and Marylouise) to improve strategic messaging campaigns and conversation around young parenting to a non-stigmatizing and non-shaming approach, while highlighting the importance of comprehensive sexuality education. 

We believe that preventing unintended teenage pregnancy is possible WITHOUT shaming and or stigmatizing teen parents. For some reason folks tend to believe that because we believe in a shame and stigma free approach and the importance of supporting teen parents that we "encourage" teen pregnancy

We all sat down and discussed how parents can have "the talk" with their children in ways that are free of shame and stigma and full of accurate information and honesty. 

What teen moms want you to know about 'the talk'

SheKnows: What should parents focus on when talking to their children about sex and relationships?

#NoTeenShame: First, parents need to realize that a big part of "the talk" is not actually verbal. Parents need to be establishing a safe and comfortable relationship with their children prior to ever talking about sex with them. "The talk" is an ongoing conversation so establishing safe and healthy environments often is necessary. Your kids need to know and feel that they can come to you with questions. Focus on answering questions asked as close to family and cultural values while not leaving out the medically accurate responses young people need. Instead of saying, "Don't be a teen parent because it's terrible and will ruin your life," give them answers to the direct and indirect questions they are asking.

SK: Do you feel that sex education and conversations about teenage pregnancy prevention need to go hand in hand? In other words, does society have to talk about teenage pregnancy and parenting in order to talk about sex education? 

#NTS: Teenage pregnancy prevention is part of the sex education conversation, but the ways in which teenage pregnancy and parenting are discussed needs to be in a shame- and stigma-free way. Teenage parents are humans and families and should be treated as such, not as purely cautionary tales to use in an effort to scare your children about sex and relationships. Sex education is a lot of things, however, it is about preventing STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancies in addition to discussing sexuality, healthy relationships and explorations of what readiness means to you.

Read the full interview over on SheKnows.com 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Mental Health of Teen Moms Matters via Seleni

I have written about the importance of addressing the high rates of postpartum depression in teenage mothers before; I've also written about my personal struggles with mental health in an effort to be honest with myself and help others who might feel they are in the struggle alone.

The folks over at Seleni are interested in helping teenage parents deal with their high rates of post part depression and interviewed me and a few of the #NoTeenShame mamas about the importance of mental health when it comes to pregnant and parenting teen parents.

The Mental Health of Teen Moms Maters 

Teen moms face plenty of challenges, from dealing with the shame and stigma of an unplanned pregnancy to finishing school and finding employment. But many must also deal with the challenges of mental illness. Researchers have found that twice as many teen moms are at risk of developing postpartum depression (PPD) as their older counterparts. And nearly three times as many teens with mental illness get pregnant as adolescents without a disorder. 
"At 17, 'postpartum depression' wasn't really in my vocabulary," says Martinez. When she gave birth to her fourth child at age 30, she experienced PPD again. But this time, she had a husband and a career as an early childhood educator, and people reacted with more empathy. 
Mood disorders make teen parenting even harder"There were times I called my mom to come over because my son was crying, and it was like the noise of scratching a chalkboard," says Shiloh (who asked that we only use her first name), a 28-year-old mom to two children, who lives in northwest Missouri. Shiloh was diagnosed with cyclothymia – often considered a precursor to bipolar disorder – just after high school before she became pregnant with her first child, who was born when she was 19.
Read the article over at Seleni.com 

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Teen Mom OG" drama with Farrah

MTV is bringing back the original cast of Teen Mom and some of the cast is really not happy that Farrah is going to be a part of the show because of her history with doing pornographic films, sex toys, and writing erotica novels.

They feel that having her on the show is inappropriate and sends the wrong message to their children.

What do you think? Do you think the other mothers have a point and Farrah shouldn't be on the show or do you think they're overreacting? Comment below, on Facebook or on Twitter.