16 and Pregnant: The Balancing Act
Learning how to balance all the different parts of your life when you’re a new mother can be daunting. Your baby’s needs should come first, but that doesn’t mean that your needs should be completely ignored. Finishing school is one of the best things you can do for both your future and that of your baby’s. Most jobs require at least a high school education, and those that pay enough to earn a decent living require a college degree. With a little help and a ton of determination, you can earn both and provide a good life for your child. Every community offers different options for school assistance, so talk to your school guidance counselor to find out what help is available to you.
With the demands of school and motherhood, you may not be able to find much time for yourself. Even though you can no longer go out every weekend with friends or hang out after school, you still need to find a little time to be a regular teenager. Adult moms hire babysitters and go to a movie, dinner, or just get out of the house for a walk, so there is no rule that says just because you were 16 and pregnant, you can’t do the same. If you don’t find time for yourself, it is very easy to become completely overwhelmed by being a parent. Don’t feel that just because you’re a teenager, you have more to prove.
16 and Pregnant: Learning the Ropes
Here’s a little secret that many moms are reluctant to share- no first-time mom knows exactly what she’s doing. Even those that spend a lifetime taking care of younger siblings or babysitting other people’s children often find themselves staring at their newborn in panic and thinking, “what am I supposed to do now?” Babies require a lot of work. They cry for no reason, they need to eat on a regular schedule, they spit up on everything in sight, and they go through diapers like you wouldn’t believe. Sure, they’re awesome when they’re sleeping peacefully or cooing at you with those wide eyes, but most of the time, they’re demanding, confusing, at least for the first few months.
Every time you turn around, there is something new to learn about raising an infant. Let someone help you. Take a parenting class, read some teenage pregnancy books, ask your mom for help, talk to your grandmother. Take advice from anyone who is willing to give it regarding the basics. Just remember though, with the helpful advice comes the well-meaning yet somewhat pushy advice, like “you really should put more pink on that little girl,” or “you’re spoiling your baby, let him cry it out once in a while.” The best advice in those situations is to just smile, nod, and say “thank you for your input.” Just because you’re 16 and pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t make basic style decisions for your child or basic parenting decisions.