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Advice for Teen Moms and bystanders from a 32 year old Teen Mom

Updated on February 24, 2012
8 year old Betty Jean playing in the back yard at our old house.  She had been pulling her little sister in the car.
8 year old Betty Jean playing in the back yard at our old house. She had been pulling her little sister in the car. | Source
Betty and her sister Leona painting sugar cookies this Christmas.
Betty and her sister Leona painting sugar cookies this Christmas. | Source

I got pregnant when I was 16, got married and moved out never to live with my parents again. I had my daughter at 17 and was divorced at 18 still living on my own. The man I married when I was 16 has by choice had no contact with our daughter since she was10 months old. I am writing this article to give hope and advice to Teen Moms. I also want others to read this and think about the way they may have looked at someone like this and maybe be inspired to step in, in those restaurant discipline situations.

The most inspirational words I heard, when my daughter was a baby, came to me from my Mother. A woman from church told her that my daughter would have a lower IQ than most kids and probably have learning problems. She said it was a statistical fact and to be prepared for that because teen Moms don’t spend time reading to and working with their children.

I vowed that would not be the case with my child. I started reading to Betty when she was 8 months. I read magazines and a parenting book or 2 or 4 to find out more. I asked other people with kids and babies lots of questions sometimes feigning ignorance to get detailed advice; I wanted to know everyone’s story. Whenever I want to learn something I try to hear lots of versions or methods and then make my own method using what I liked from the feedback I received.

One piece of advice I got frequently was that I didn’t spank my daughter enough. It makes me want to cry right now thinking about it. How much is 'enough' twice a day or more? My daughter was and is extremely smart and energetic. I did not put her on medicine as so many ‘Grown Ups” suggested. I did not think that medication was the answer my child had no problems focusing and made good grades. I was a wild little girl too. I did however take the spanking advice. I want to scream from the rooftops spanking is not the only way to discipline your children. If only I knew then what I know now.

Don’t focus on the wrong in your children. When your child does the right thing make a big deal out of it even if it’s not a big thing. That encourages your child to try harder to do well. Children are going to get your attention one way or another so teach your child to get your attention the right way. For example when your child says thanks or please praise them for it and they will say it more often. It’s more common to focus on the mistakes and correct your children when they don’t. When your child makes any small gesture of helping you out make a big deal out of that and it is more likely to happen again. Oddly enough I learned how to correctly and lovingly raise and train my children through training puppy's and dogs and reading dog training books.


Don’t be ashamed of yourself don’t let the other Mothers get you down. I faced rejection by other Mothers when my daughter started school. I enrolled her in Brownies the other Mothers and Brownie Girl Scout Leaders looked at me with that look, ewww she’s young, that your scum, a slut, they didn’t want my daughter in their group. They didn't know I was a college student and Betty was a great kid and even without that we are as worthy as they are to occupy the planet so I decided to give them another chance. So we went to the second meeting, I had volunteered to bring the snack. We spent the evening before the meeting making brownies. My daughter was very happy and excited to go share the brownies we made and to be going to the Brownies meeting again in general.

The afterschool care teacher was there at the school she informed me that the Meeting had been moved to some other place that day. I cut the brownies up and served them to the children in afterschool care. We never went to Brownies again, I felt so bad for my daughter, and she had missed out on what could have been a great girl experience because of something beyond her control. I was judged and found wanting by a bunch of hypocritical women and my daughter was too. That wasn’t the only time my age was an issue with other Mothers.

Oh by the way my daughter is in High School now she’s a great girl, she makes almost all A’s, she has had one C in her life. There will be many struggles and bad days don't look back keep moving forward and don't let anyone elses opinion of you influence your opinion of yourself.

Save the Children!

Did you know some kids get more hyper when they are tired? Mine daughter did. The later it became the more energy she developed which made it hard for me to handle and control her. I was eating out the other night and stopping in the restroom before I left I encountered a young woman SCREAMING at a 1 year old little girl while SLAMMING her hand on the toilet seat. Asking the child at the top of her lungs what was wrong with her, why was she acting like that and if she didn’t stop she was getting a SPANKING. Each of the words I put in caps were literally screamed with emphasis! As if the screaming and whacking the toilet threateningly was not enough. The little girl was so young she could only speak a few words and that pitiful little voice was crying and moaning with heartache and terror.

I did not want to think it but, had it been like that with me and mine? I decided to step in preparing myself for any outcome and I told the Mother that her child was probably just tired and not used to being out past bedtime. I stopped talking and after a brief silence she spoke softly, she comforted her baby and tried to understand. I was amazed at how easy it was to turn that situation around and wished it had happened to me. I was expecting for her to tell me to mind my own business, cuss me out or something but what I witnessed was a complete and abrupt turn around in her attitude and demeanor! It makes me get all teary thinking about the violence and the pitiful little voice of the child but to think that was all changed. I had no idea it would work out that way and I can only hope and wonder if the little girls Mother thinks of that other woman in the bathroom as frequently as I do.


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    • Laura Matkin profile image

      Laura Matkin 5 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

      Thank you Timetraveler : )

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 5 years ago from USA

      Laura: It's wise to remember that people are not statistics and also that people can be incredibly cruel and stupid. Don't dwell on your mistakes...they're over and done with. You must have done something right for things to have turned out so well. Continue believing in yourself and loving your child...that's the best any of us can do. Thanks for sharing this one.

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

      Great of you Laura to speak to others you may help. Two wrongs never make a right and I hope things will always work out for you for the better.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Laura! Well-written and amazing hub here. I loved it. Voted UP and all the buttons. Love your writing style. You kept me spell bound from start to finish. I left YOU some Fan Mail. Please read. I am so glad to have met you on Hubs. I invite YOU to SEE more of my contributions that are guaranteed to make YOU laugh. And Id LOVE for you to FOLLOW me. That would make my day. Sincerely, Kenneth Avery, from HAMILTON, a small northwest Alabama town (in Marion County right below Franklin County) that Norman Rockwell would have loved to paint on a magazine cover. I look forward to hearing from you, Laura.

      Keep up the great work.


    • Laura Matkin profile image

      Laura Matkin 5 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

      Thank you! I will definitely be thinking about that. I tried to write a book 5 years ago but, I didn't know what I was doing. I made it about 3 chapters in when I realized my book had no direction and I had no ideas on how to end it! lol! That was a big waste of time;) I will do some looking into how to successfully write a book. You have a great idea, I do have a lot I could share good and bad. Thank You Lee B.!

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 5 years ago from New Mexico

      Yes, I really do think you should write a book! (only, of course, if that is what you want to do) You've got a lot of life experiences that other people could benefit from.

    • Laura Matkin profile image

      Laura Matkin 5 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

      Thank you so much! Do you really think I should write a book? Betty is a great girl, smart and strong. I am so glad you enjoyed this article.

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 5 years ago from New Mexico

      What a wonderful story! You should write a book! So glad you ignored all the negative advice and decided to focus on the positive. What a difference that made in your daughter's life.

    • Laura Matkin profile image

      Laura Matkin 5 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

      Times are different depending upon where you live. There were programs back then too but I didn't want any of that, I had too much pride to take charity. I am so glad everything worked out so well for you too.

    • Allana Calhoun profile image

      Allana Calhoun 5 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      Well, you definitely sound like a great mother! Kudos to you for all your love and effort that you put into raising your child. The advice you write here can be used by any mother.

      Times are a little different these days as unfortunately, teen pregnancy is becoming more common. Or at least more commonly recognized. Society doesn't look down upon them quite as much as they used to, but instead offers help through various organizations.

      I was lucky. Pregnant before I turned 19 I married and am still married to that same man today. We have 3 beautiful kids together.

    • Laura Matkin profile image

      Laura Matkin 5 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

      Thank you natures47friend and annart! I wish your daughter the best of life, love and happiness. Hopefully she will not experience the prejudices I did.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 5 years ago from SW England

      Good for you! Great hub. I thought people were more tolerant than that. My daughter had a baby at 16; she's always been a great mum, she now has a 1 year old and is about to get married

    • natures47friend profile image

      natures47friend 5 years ago from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand.

      What a nasty group of hypocritical woman that was. Obviously you were better off without them. They were too up themselves to even find out who you were.

      Great hub and congratulations on bringing up your high school daughter so well!

      Voted up and deserve it!

    • Laura Matkin profile image

      Laura Matkin 5 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

      What you said really sums it up. Thank you Kirsten!

    • profile image

      klofficepro 5 years ago

      If human beings would spend more time and energy being helpful and accepting, rather than hateful and mean - what a world this would be! Thanks for sharing your story!


    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 5 years ago from Oakland, California

      Very very happy for you that things turned out well!