Supporting teen moms

2010-11-29 12:11

I am a local author, Parent24 columnist and mom based in Simon's Town. My book The Girl Who Couldn't Say No: Memoir of a Teenage Mom is available on my website.

Having been a teen mom, teenage pregnancy is a topic very close to my heart. I have seen that in the communities around me, while there may be some limited support available for those going through crisis pregnancies, there is very little support or encouragement for those moms who choose to keep their babies.

Teenage mothers are vilified, judged and ostracised by their friends, families and community at large - seen as bad parents and not given the respect and encouragement they need to be good mothers. Not given a chance to learn to be good mothers, as every single first time parent has to do. Loneliness and isolation are often huge issues affecting their mental and emotional health and ability to be good mothers to their children.

Young moms have the same social and emotional needs as ANY new mom of any age, but are often subtly or blatantly excluded from joining in the usual "moms and tots" kind of group. I've always believed that regardless of her economic, educational or family position - a mother who feels proud of what she's doing will always do a better job for her children.

Of course there are plenty of mothers of all ages doing lousy jobs - but you cannot generalise and paint every teen mom as a promiscuous, abusive or neglectful.

The way I see it, you're either rooting for moms to succeed, or for them to fail. I know which side I'm on.

I am starting a teen / young mom support group in Fish Hoek for girls in the area. Starting small, at first we will simply be a "coffee and cake" type of group where moms can meet with others in the same position, have a cup of tea and talk without fear of judgment.

Later, as word spreads and we're able to do more, I'd like to grow towards offering practical support and advice, 2nd hand clothing, childcare, help with completing education etc.

Once we have gauged the response we will appeal to the public for donations to keep us going.
Please help by spreading the word about our first meeting. Details are below. Please contact me should you require further info.

Are you a young or teenage mom?
Do you feel alone or stressed?
Need to talk?
Need to make new friends?
Come and join us for coffee and cake
Bring your kiddies along
Meet other moms, have a chat & relax
We’ll listen & support each other

Where: False Bay Hospital Hall, 17th Ave, Fish Hoek

When: Saturday 18 December 2010
Time: 10h30 – 12h00
No charge

  • Pop Idol - 2010-11-29 12:25

    I still think that kids need to be kids,and this includes teenagers.Why are children being robbed of their childhood at such an early age? Ban porn,close stores on Sundays to recreate a family day,ban all these porn mms' available to kids at early ages.Parents need to be parents,but even this is being taken away from them because of a corrupt capitalist system where the rich get rich and the poor get poorer.Both parents now have to work,and work longer hours to have a decent life,and get to spend less time with their kids.Kids need to learn in school,but the schooling system releases thousands of matriculants each year who are very immature.All these factors need to be taken into account as to not HOW a teenager got pregnant,but WHY they got pregnant.Its a symptomn of a deteriorating society,the teenanger isnt really always at fault,as they are simply products of their society.

      nayes - 2010-11-29 12:53

      Wow that was really helpful... Oh wait... No it wasn't....

      Pop Idol - 2010-11-29 13:14

      @nayes,,why do u say that?,,,By the way,Tracy,ya FLIPPEN beautiful !

      dlawre30 - 2010-11-29 14:48

      Everybody makes mistakes - don't tell me that you havent. The issue here is that there are teens out there in this situation - Tracy is doing a good thing by trying to help. Sure education etc will go a long way but does not help what has already happened.

      Zingara - 2010-11-30 15:17

      So hat are you suggesting? That mothers should be forced to stay at home to raise their children, that people who actually want to shop on Sundays be made to feel like bad parents (or just frustrated shoppers), that capitalism be banned in favour of what... communism? Socialism? Show me a system that works better than capitalism, which I admit is not perfect, then maybe your comment has validity. BTW, by working better, I mean something where we still have the freedom and human rights that democrasy, which works well with capitalism, affords us. Ban porn? Then in the next breath you say that parents being parents is being taken away from them. Adults have every right to look at porn, and you have to right to tell me I can't. But parents need to make sure that their children are protected. Yes, I understand this is difficult, but reducing adults' rights to those of monors in order to protect minors is not a solution.

  • JacquesJ - 2010-11-29 13:08

    hey you dont be silly put a condom on that willy

  • Poloyatonki - 2010-11-29 13:55

    Tracy….Are you encouraging teen pregnancy? Lets just educate them to use a condom….

      Sleepyhollow - 2010-11-29 15:22

      Polo – Here is someone trying to make a difference instead of running away. Isn’t this what you've always advocated in your comments on other pages?

  • My10c - 2010-11-29 13:57

    I think what you are doing is good to a degree, but I also feel that this type of thing may encourage teenage pregnancy, why not teach kids (because that iss what a teenager is, a kid) that sex before marraige is wrong, and how to be responsible so as not to land themselves in such situations, making a support group and being all coushy ans supportive about it, is not going get their attitudes in the right place, rather it is going to make them feel that it is okay. Yes there are situations where a young woman is raped, thats a completely different topic, but I dont think that there should be support groups for kids who are too big for their boots and obviously were not mature enough to engage in sex in the first place, or they would have thought about protection.

      Sleepyhollow - 2010-11-29 15:09

      Encouraging teen pregnancy???? I can see it now... Let me get pregnant so I qualify to attend this get together and get some tea and cake? Good on you Tracey.

      savage182 - 2010-11-29 16:25

      lol.....the cake must be good.Yep sure they do need help and support.Should they be responsible of breaking statutory laws too?

      Zingara - 2010-11-30 15:25

      Why is sex before marriage wrong? What if you don't believe in marriage? What if you're not religious? Does that mean you don't need God's permission to have sex? Or Allah's? Or Biddha's for that matter? And why do you hate teenagers who make mistakes so much? "Too big for their boots"? Where's your compassion? Giving kids in difficult situations help doesn't mean you're encouraging them. How would you view rehab facilities then - as places that promote drug use? I think teen moms that choose to keep their babies are incredibly brave. And yes, I do think they need support. Good luck with your venture, Tracy! Let me know where I can donate!

      Zingara - 2010-11-30 15:26

      Sorry about the typos...

      Tracy Engelbrecht - 2010-12-01 10:03

      Hey Zingara, thanks for the vote of support! We're just getting started - but you can find more info on my website

  • luddite lass - 2010-11-29 14:24

    Good luck with this much-needed initiative. A space to talk without fear of judgement is very important. It's clear there is lot of judgement directed against teenage mums.

  • jwill - 2010-11-29 14:24

    Tracey, some commentators here are commenting on the morality/ethics/social responsibility of being a teenage mother. I, for one, applaude what you are trying to do. Once the baby is there, it's futile to argue that it shouldn't have happened. Support groups, like the one you are starting, are there to help support and educate these young mothers about the future etc. Rather help them to learn from the past, to grow and to cope with the demands of parenthood. Help them to become independent again and not necessarily rely on grants for support. Good luck.

  • Robi - 2010-11-29 14:53

    I think a lot of you have got the wrong end of the stick. Tracy isn't *encouraging* teen pregnancy but she's making sure that teens who *are* pregnant get the support they deserve. Well done Tracy! And good luck.

  • Ares - 2010-11-29 15:16

    Free condoms? Practice safe sex? What ever happened to saving your innocence until your wedding night? Or has morality really dropped that badly here and everywhere else in the world? Getting the support they need will be coming from the tax payers, as usual.

      Sleepyhollow - 2010-11-29 15:24

      What happened to test driving a car before you buy it?

      Ares - 2010-11-29 16:31

      I test drive before I buy a car and check the history and everything else that needs checking. Don't know what you on about.

      Sleepyhollow - 2010-11-29 16:45

      So you do that for a car you going to trade in after a few 1000 Ks but not for a wife who you stuck with for life?

      Ares - 2010-12-01 08:24

      That's the trouble with "living together" with the stupid excuse of getting to know each other and to see if they are compatible. New age thinking sometimes lead to trouble... and they usually end in divorce. No argument with you brother, just a thought.

      Nifty - 2010-12-01 15:31

      Ya, I agree, and then after "living together" you go through a rough spot and pack your bags and leave - ah, isn't that easier. Oh, but wait, if you're married then whoops, now you might have to actually stick around and see if you can work it out. And as for that comment about "test drive' - my word, are you implying that just because someone may potentially be bad in bed, then that means they won't make a super spouse on all the other factors! I mean, what if they were a bad cook, would you then disregard them too? Or is that point allowable?

      Tracy Engelbrecht - 2010-12-01 16:06

      Hi Nifty Obviously prevention is best. But unplanned pregnancy has been around as long as humans have, and always will be with us. Prevention is a different conversation. Unfortunately it's still going to happen, probably for many generations to come, and if it does, we'll be there to help. Perhaps if more people did help, the children wouldn't have to suffer, as you suggest?

      Sleepyhollow - 2010-12-02 10:28

      We digress from the article but let’s continue discussing premarital sex… I guess people just look for different aspects in a partner to spend the rest of their lives with. I wanted someone that I would connect with on an emotional as well as a physical level. Why gamble on maybe getting half of what I want when I could ensure a 100% guarantee. Some people just click better in bed. I personally know 2 couples that waited for the wedding night who are both now divorced. One lady went looking for the passion that she read about in Mills and Boon which she wasn’t experiencing with her husband. She was on affair number 6 after 2 years of marriage before he found out. The second one watched her single friends going out and experiencing “life” so she joined them. Living together also lets you experience life after the honeymoon phase before it’s too late. When the lust or novelty of sex is not strong enough to cover up those annoying little habits or to see if you have enough in common to have a meaningful conversation. Nifty – regarding your bad cook comment – there are restaurants and take outs. I don’t think the same could be said about bad sex, well I suppose it could be but that’s not what marriage is about is it?

  • Shazzie - 2010-11-30 09:37

    I am so very supportive of you in this initiative and really hope that some of these teens contact you. I will reserve my comments on those who continue to stick their heads in the sand and think that the teens are deliberately going out to get pregnant. Good luck and shout if you need me. xx

      Nifty - 2010-12-01 15:34

      No Shazzie, teens are not deliberately going out to get pregnant, but they are deliberately having sex. And it's usually the poor baby having to suffer. By all means, they need a support group, but is it not the same reasoning like it is with HIV/AIDS - isn't prevention better than cure?

  • egmaarman - 2010-12-01 11:13

    LOL, tea and cake? Honestly, how bloody naive can you be. If they are teen moms, where the hell do you think will they get the money from for tea and cake, and since most of them do not work, I believe it is a logical assumption to make that they will not have any money to spend on frivolities! Why do you think the community shuns them, especially in relatively poor areas? Because another mouth has to be fed!!!!!! Why can't they just learn about contraception? It's free!!!!!!!!! MY GOODNESS! And I believe the government should really stop this grant, as long as there is an outcome they will go about have kids

      Tracy Engelbrecht - 2010-12-01 12:11

      @egmaarman: I'm paying for the tea & baking the cakes - our support group is free of charge. I'm guessing you've never been a new parent in need of support? Would you rather that once the child is here, the mother is abandoned, ostracised and shunned as you say? Would you rather that she feels alone and desperate? Would you rather that she resorts to abandoning her child? Poverty combined with loneliness, despair and shame is a recipe for disaster. Maybe I can't help with the poverty, but I can make a difference to the rest. Contraception and prevention have a huge role to play: unfortunately that is a long term ideal that will take generations to change. There are mothers and children in need now. I'd rather be helping those mothers feel strong enough to parent their children well, than deal with the results of abandoned, neglected or poorly-parented children in 20 years. Can't quite see how that's a bad thing?

      egmaarman - 2010-12-02 09:14

      Abortion is free as well, if you can't take care of yourself, how the hell are you going to take care of a baby. You are encouraging kids to have kids and then to join your group, that's wrong! And no I don't have kids, because I'm still a teen myself…

      Tracy Engelbrecht - 2010-12-02 10:20

      @egmaarman - sorry, I didn't realise you were still a teen, in which case I'm not going to argue with you. As the mom of a 16 yr old, I've learnt to pick my battles. :) I just hope that if you are ever in need for any reason whatsoever, someone will be there for you.

      Anne - 2010-12-03 22:05

      Oh please, Egpaarman! Tracy did not encourage any teenager to have children, and yes, we can see by your childish comments how immature you still are.

  • tcCarla - 2010-12-01 20:13

    Tracy, may you be blessed with the kindness you show others. I was not a teenage mom but an umarried one ( 20 years back :-)) I remember not feeling the freedom to enjoy my pregnacy because it was "unwanted" in society's eyes. other mothers had baby showers and proudly talked about their babies. I had to cope, mostly on my own. My grandmother supported me and told me no matter what just dont give away your child. I will be always thankful for her support, but I didnt get it from anybody else Today I have a beautiful grown up daughter. I raised her mostly on my own. I did end up marrying her father for all the wrong reasons and we split a couple of years later. Being pregnant is not something you can wish away, there is another innocent human involved that deserves all your love and support. And the mothers having that baby, out of wedlock, alone and scared out of their minds need all the love, support and care that we can offer. I know there are teenage mothers having babies to get grants and those who dont give two cents about the child, but maybe they need our love and guidance even more

      Tracy Engelbrecht - 2010-12-02 10:21

      Thanks tcCarla! means a lot to have people get it, unfortunately we're preaching to the choir a bit :) The ones who really need to hear it are too high up on their high horses to hear us. :)

  • blstack - 2010-12-03 15:41

    I like what you propose doing. Just a support group for teen moms. My cousin fell pregnant at what society will call a tender age. She didn't know until she was about 7months along. She is really thin and her baby bump wasn't even an indication. She has her mother's support but she feels really alone, since the teen dad has neglected to see her since he found a new girlfriend. For these kids they need aplace to go where no one will judge them and where they can go in a crisis. Carry on Tracy. You may not get the support you need right now, but making waves (good or bad) will get attention. Good luck!!!!

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