Parents - do your job

2014-07-20 16:11

Here's a story of a young girl called A. She contacted me early this year, pregnant, panicked and alone. The image below shows extracts from her various mails to be over a few months. This one had a happy ending, but too many do not.  And I'm angry about it.

Why do organisations like Young Mom Support exist? We shouldn't have to. We are doing the job that parents, friends and communities should be doing. It is WRONG the a young girl should have to reach out to perfect strangers for help when she HAS a family. She's not a criminal. Not a rapist, thief, drug addict or murderer. Unplanned teen pregnancies happen, and they should be dealt with within families, as a family, together. She should not be alone.

Too often, a parent's love is conditional. "I will love you IF you behave exactly as I say. IF you always make the choices I want you to. IF you never take a step over this invisible line that I've invented. IF you do - I stop loving you".

I'm a parent. I cannot imagine an IF. I can imagine disappointment in my child, anger, even fear. I can imagine them doing a million terrible, dreadful things. But I cannot imagine no longer loving them.

Parents - this is what you signed up for. You CHOSE to do this job - for better or worse (and there are a million worse things than this). So do your damn job and make sure your children know they are always safe with you. That is literally all you have to do.

In the beginning, I thought YMS would be about teaching young moms how to care for their babies. I was soon disabused of that silly notion. They KNOW how to do that. What we spend most of our time talking about is the big picture - what parenting is really about (Hint: not nappies or school or time outs).

How to be better parents than their own parents were. The understanding that the job you're doing right now - no matter how many people think otherwise - is the most important thing you'll ever do. Creating a human that the world needs, a human who will bring something good to the world- that is no small thing.

It cannot be done without being a safe place for them to fall. If you're not doing that - if you have conditions and strings attached - you've already lost.  I can think of at least a dozen parents off the top of my head who should NOT be parents. Who don't get it, and whose children are suffering for it. (Incidentally, NOT the teen moms I know). Money, education, corner office and fancy house do not a good parent make.

So our girl A is okay now. And yes, parents are shocked and angry and disappointed and may react badly at first, only to come round later. But life is short. Short and painful and sometimes scary. The only thing that makes that better is the people you are with.

Go hug your child. Tell them no matter what, you'll be there. Tell them you love them. The best reply to hear to "I  love you" is not "love you too, Mom". It's "I know".

Do they know?

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