Thursday, March 19, 2015

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

Over on 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:

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 

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 

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. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

NWLC Title IX Student Parent Rights

Please join me on March 19th for this informational session about your rights as a pregnant and parenting teen in school.  RSVP here. If you are unable to make it don't worry there will be a link of the information session that I will share and they will email out to everyone who signs up. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

JOB: RH Reality Check is seeking two passionate writers

I love RH Reality Check. They are one of the first publications that found my voice on the issues that pregnant and parenting teen families face worth listening to and publishing.

They are seeking TWO young and passionate writers for their Summer 2015 writers program and I would LOVE for a pregnant and or parenting teen to get the job!

Deadline to apply is April 15th! 

The Young Writers Program is a four-month commitment, beginning May 15, 2015. Participants will be expected to publish two approved articles per month, and in exchange will receive hands-on guidance, editing, and mentoring. Writers are paid for published pieces as independent contractors (not employees) of RH Reality Check.

To apply, please send an email to with the following information no later than Wednesday, April 15:
  • A cover letter explaining why you would like to be considered for the program, including discussion of issues you might like to cover and what perspective you bring to those issues
  • Three writing samples 
  • Links to your Tumblr, blog, and/or Twitter (strictly optional and only if you wish to share them as part of your application)  
  • Your name, school and grade level (if applicable), personal address, telephone number, and age 
For more information click here  

Deadline to apply is April 15th! 

Feel free to email me if you have any questions about applying, cover letter, and or anything else. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

We Can Support Preventing Unintended Pregnancy without Shaming Young People

Preventing teenage pregnancy is a good goal, accomplishing this with sexual health education and access to birth control for young people is great. However, doing all of this without shaming, stigmatizing, and or disrespecting teenage families is GOOD, AMAZING, GREAT and possible. 

I love this piece by  Christian Aguilar, the Executive Director of COLOR, where she lays out how this is all possible.

Below are some of my favorite parts.

"The role of lawmakers is to work to meet the needs of people in our community. One critical area that we discuss at length is the important goal of making health care both available and affordable to every Coloradan, including reproductive health care such as contraception."
"Unfortunately, we often see programs that attempt to decrease unintended pregnancy do so by stigmatizing young people and young parents. Teen pregnancy is talked about as an epidemic with young parents positioned as a scourge on our community draining resources and causing catastrophic impacts on the bottom line of the economy. This is not only insulting, but also removed from the reality of young people who are facing unintended pregnancy. Many times the people hurt most by this limited thinking are young women of color. 
The fact is that right now there is a higher likelihood of young women in the Latina community to become pregnant at an earlier age. But we do not believe that young women in our community should be treated as pariahs. Latinas are more likely to live in areas with limited access to family planning services. Young women in our community are also dealing with the same obstacles of lack of insurance and money to pay for care, as well as difficulty obtaining comprehensive sexuality education and cultural or religious pressures around relationships and sex."
"We should look at how to create forward thinking policies and programs to address barriers to contraception. That means looking at effective, youth centered, health focused policies and working to create a cultural shift to ensure that we put the health of young people before judgments or agendas and stand by young parents as they raise their families. Parents need support regardless of age."
 Please click here to read the rest.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Educational pushout and unintended teenage pregnancy

Pushing teen parents out of educational institutions for being pregnant/parenting and choosing to stay in school furthers the cycle of poverty thus leading to more unintended teenage pregnancies.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

When Title IX isn't enough: Teen parents need family leave laws

Although many pregnant and parenting teens say have a child in their teens MOTIVATES them to continue and complete their education educational punishment for being a pregnant and or parenting teen is very real for many of us.

Many pregnant and parenting teens don't know they have FEDERAL rights. These federal rights are known as Title IX (read more about Title IX) they state that pregnant and parenting teens have the right to complete and continue their education while pregnant and parenting. However, many schools don't inform teen parents about these rights and because of this many pregnant and parenting teens may not know that their rights are being violated. 

In addition to not knowing about our rights and having our rights violated we have NO maternity leave laws that protect pregnant and parenting teens in a way that allows for us to enjoy the multiple benefits of maternity leave. I shared some of my experiences with going back to school almost immediately after giving birth because I was afraid the school would fail me before and felt there was more I wanted to say. 

For example, even though pregnant and parenting teens have the right to equal educational opportunity under Title IX, which allows for excused absences and medical leave during a pregnancy, among other things, many students are unaware of their rights, school faculty and staff do not inform them of those rights, and schools do a poor job of establishing comprehensive policies that go beyond addressing the on-paper needs of students who are pregnant or parenting. 
If advocates truly want to improve outcomes for new moms and dads, they would also help elevate the needs of pregnant and parenting teens, instead of allowing the system to continue punishing young adults for making their own reproductive decisions. 
Pregnant and parenting students face significant barriers that often are overlooked or discounted by schoolteachers and other people in their lives. They have to juggle keeping on top of their schoolwork with attending school in unsafe learning environments due to things like bullying, societal stigma, and shame. Pregnant teens have their own set of unique needs, which vary from person to person but often include constant bathroom breaks, snacking in between meals, and pregnancy-related doctor’s appointments.

You can read more of my thoughts in this article I wrote,"Family Leave Laws Need to Include Teen Student Parents"

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

School, maternity leave, and teen parents

Maternity leave conversations have been a hot topic of discussion lately but they seem to NEVER include pregnant and parenting teens although we would benefit from maternity leave greatly.

The lack of conversation about maternity family leave laws for pregnant and parenting teens reminded me of my experiences with giving birth and going back to school almost immediately after because I was afraid my school would fail me for giving birth.

It is important to know that pregnant and parenting teens have rights to education under Title IX (Title 9) in any school that gets funding from the federal government. ALL public schools must comply and any charter or private school that gets any money from the federal government must uphold your rights too.
Learn more about Title IX via the National Women's Law Center.