Find Resources That Support Teen Parents
The teens on Unexpected learn that being a parent is a 24-hour-a-day job, and while it's full of joy, sometimes it can feel overwhelming too. We've seen them juggle the demands of pregnancy, baby, family, relationships, and work. The truth is, most pregnant and parenting teens are still figuring out how to take care of themselves while they take on the added demands and responsibilities of caring for a child. Young moms and their babies need and deserve all the support they can get.
Luckily, resources like these from Childwelfare.gov have tons of tips and resources to support growing families. All parents, regardless of age need support at some point--and seeking help is a sign of strength.
First things first, you need to know that you're not alone! Many teen parents sometimes feel:
- Confused and uncertain--about their future or their skills as a parent
- Overwhelmed--they don't know where to begin or they feel like giving up
- Angry--at the baby's other parent, their friends, or even their baby
- Lonely--as though they have nothing in common with their friends anymore.
- Depressed--sad and unable to manage their emotions. These feelings do not mean you are a bad parent! Many new moms of all ages experience post-partum depression. It's treatable and it's not your fault.
Every parent--no matter their age--needs support sometimes. If you think stress may be affecting how you treat your baby, it's time to find some help. Try the following:
- Join a support group. A group for young moms or dads could give you time with new friends who have lives similar to yours. Your children can play with other children, and you can talk about your triumphs and challenges with people who understand. Look online, or call your local social services agency for information about support groups in your community. Look online for resource specific to your state or community. Your local health department can often connect you to resources and support in your area.
- Find ways to reduce stress. One of the best things you can do for your baby is to take time out for yourself. Take a break while someone reliable cares for your baby. Take a walk with the baby in a stroller, or rest while your baby naps. A social worker or nurse can help you learn other ways to manage stress.
- Become a regular at baby-friendly places in your community. The playground and story time at the local library are great places to bond with your baby while getting to know other parents.
- Get as much support as you can to finish school. Even though it may be difficult, finishing high school (or getting a GED) is one of the most important things you can do to help your baby and yourself. A diploma will help you get a better job or take the next step in your education, such as vocational training or college.
- Be open to learning about parenting and about your baby's unique needs. There's no such thing as a "perfect" parent, and no single approach that's right for all families--feel confident that you are the expert when it comes to you and your babies' needs. Don't be afraid to ask for advice from others. Classes for parents can also help you build on what you already know about raising a happy, healthy child.
- Call a help line. Most States have help lines for parents. Childhelp(R) runs a national 24-hour hotline (1.800.4.A.CHILD) for parents who need help or parenting advice
Remember: Stay in contact with friends and family who support you and make you feel good about yourself. Help is just a phone call away.
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