Did you know that in two-thirds of teenage pregnancy cases, the mom drops out of high school? That is incredibly upsetting. A high school diploma should be a priority for teen moms, as it can help pave the way to a better future for both mom and baby. Yet so many young girls find that they just can’t handle the stress and stigma that teenage pregnancy brings. Something has to give, and often that something is their education. With the right support system and reasonable expectations, though, girls can go back to school after a teenage pregnancy and succeed in getting a diploma.
Coping with teenage pregnancy and adjusting to life as a new mom is challenging. A good support system is vital to succeeding, not only as a mom, but as a student as well. When it comes to needing support, teenagers need to know that they’re not alone. Every new mom needs family and friends to lean on, whether she has her baby at 15 or 35. The sad thing is, while many are willing to offer support to the frazzled new mom in her 30s, we seem less willing to offer it in cases of teenage pregnancy. Sometimes family members withdraw support to “teach a lesson” about how hard parenting is. You know what? Chances are good that she already knows! Trying to teach a lesson by forcing her to make a go on her own is just cruel. No one can do it alone.
How to Support Your Daughter When She Goes Back to School After Teenage Pregnancy
Supporting your daughter’s efforts to go back to school after a teenage pregnancy is one of the best gifts you can give her. It’s important, though, to lay down some ground rules for what your support will entail.
- Set reasonable expectations together. Before she heads back to school, sit down with your daughter and set expectations as a team. What are you willing to do to help her succeed? Will you watch the baby every day during school hours? Do you expect her home immediately after classes let out for the day? Will you give her “free time” to hang out with friends once a week? Setting the ground rules and expectations early reduces the risk of misunderstandings and fights later. Let her know that you are not taking over her role as mom, but will be there to help her succeed in school.
- Maintain basic rules. Technically, in most states, teenage pregnancy emancipates your child from you in the eyes of the law. This means that your daughter can legally move out and live by all her own rules. Of course, that’s not really the best option for any new young mom! You may be tempted to let her create her own rules just to keep that from happening! Remember, though, that even though she’s a mom herself, she’s still a child in many other ways. If she had a curfew before her teenage pregnancy, she should have one after. Rules will help provide structure, which in turn will help her succeed when she goes back to school.
- Be alert for bullying issues. Going back to school often means facing the stigma that often accompanies teenage pregnancy. Bullying hurts no matter who you are, but dealing with it on top of trying to be a new mom while keeping up with studies can wreak havoc on your daughter’s emotional well-being. Be her advocate and let her know that you’re in her corner. Talk to her regularly about how things are going at school and address any bullying problems with the proper authorities.
- Consider alternative schooling options. Not all parents of teen moms have the option of helping their daughter care for her new baby during school hours. Also, not all school settings are ideal for teen moms. If going back to school at your daughter’s regular school just isn’t a good option, consider the alternative. Schools that offer programs for teen moms are the best option. These schools often teach valuable parenting skills along with traditional course work. Plus, it gives young moms or those going through a teenage pregnancy a chance to interact with others in the same situation. Cyber School is also a good option for moms who need more flexibility.
Going back to school after a teenage pregnancy is definitely a challenge. There’s no way around that! But it’s also incredibly important to your daughter’s future. Helping her finish her education will provide her with so many more opportunities in the long run. It provides a better life for her and her baby.