Teen Mom + No Diploma =Minimum Wage
Raising Me and My Baby
Heard It Before
Not that I haven't heard it before. In fact, I really could have written this article before the visit. I've had the privilege of listening to many parents tell me the same story. The names and faces are different, but the story never changes. It goes like this.
"We've been raising her and her sister since before she started school. Their mother doesn't have anything to do with them."
"Where is her sister now?"
"Faye? Oh she has her own place. She has a good job and takes care of her kids." (Leaves out the fact that she is a single-never-been-married mother of four from four different men. All the children were born while she lived with her grandparents.) "But Tara is much worse than Faye. But she saw Faye get by with it. I guess I shouldn't have let Faye do the things she did."
"Where is Tara now?"
"She is in Cowtown and i have to go get her tonight. She has to be back here by tomorrow morning."
"I don't know. That was not explained to me. I was just told to go get her."
"What about school?"
"She quit school."
"How old is she?"
"She can't quit school at 16."
"The judge said she could get her GED. He tried to talk her out of it, but he signed anyway."
"Did she take the GED Test?"
"No, she took the classes, but not the test."
"Can she pass the GED test?"
"I don't know."
"What is her deadline for taking the test?"
"I don't know."
"Has she signed up to take the test?"
"I don't know."
"If you don't make sure she takes that test, you are sentencing her to a lifetime of minimum wage jobs."
One million babies are born to teen moms every year.
What He Said and What He Told Me
This man is a good guy with a big heart. He is far too old to be in this circumstance. But how did he get here? Did he play any part in the fiasco that is now his life?
First, he raised the girls' mother. Apparently she didn't learn to accept responsibility as she was growing up. She had two babies, dumped them on her parents, moved 100 miles away, and has no contact with the family.
Secondly, during her teen years, the older grand-daughter had four children by four different men, none of which she married. How does a mother who is taking care of her children have time to go out and get pregnant again? Most likely, when she wanted to go out, Grandmother and Grandfather took care of the other babies. That is understandable. Everyone needs to get away sometimes. But how many times does the same thing have to occur before one says "Enough"? At one point David said, "I guess I shouldn't have let her do the things she did." I wanted to reply,"Ya think?"
When the younger grand-daughter began going down the same path as her sister, no consequences were rendered. No one said, "Oh, no. You will not ruin your life." She was just allowed to do the same thing her sister did.
Did you notice how many questions i asked that David answered "I don't know?"
"I don't know" should not be in the vocabulary of anyone responsible for raising a child. Parents must be plugged in. They must know their children. That means knowing their friends, where they go, what they do, how they get there, and what happens while they are there.
David said "The judge tried to talk her out of quitting school, but he signed the paper anyway." I would have been standing up in court, screaming, "No my child won't get a GED. She will finish school. She will go to college."
David had a lot of excuses for his situation, but the truth is--he is a major part of the problem. Yes there were others that played a part, but he wasn't a victim. He was way too passive in how he raised his children and grandchildren.
Is it easy being the authority in a teenager's life? Absolutely not.
Is it fun being the authority in a teenager's life? By no means.
Do the teens like for their parents to be the authority in their lives? Not by a long shot.
Then why do it? Because you have the experience and knowledge to know what will happen when they make bad choices. They don't know the consequences. They need you to stand between them and choices that will cost them for the rest of their lives
A Day in the Life of a Teen Mom
Teen Moms and Education
The teen birth rate has been declining for the last 20 years. Still, every year approximately 1,000,000 teens become moms. Typically the ages of these girls are 15-19. The age of the teens and birth rate varies between ethnicity and region of the country.
Teens between the ages of 15-17 have probably not completed high school. Statistics say that 70% to 80% will drop out of high school. There are special programs for teen moms, but most do not complete the curriculum. Late nights walking the floor with the baby and the difficulty of finding child care usually become overwhelming. When being mom and student becomes too much, the teen usually abandons school. In the teenage years, the brain is not completely grown. The prefrontal part of the brain that predicts long term consequences is not fully developed. That means the teen is unable to predict consequences of the decisions he or she makes today. Therefore, it is difficult for them to determine the consequences of no education. The short-term answer says, "If I quit school, I can stay home with the baby and won't be under so much pressure." The realization of what it will cost to raise that baby is beyond their scope.
Less than 2% of teen moms enter college. Very few complete college. They struggle with tuition, food, shelter, diapers, and transportation. Unless the teen has a very supportive family, the odds of completing college are low.
The lack of education and difficulty of finding affordable daycare, leave teen moms few job choices. It is not surprising that 80% become welfare dependent before the child's fifth birthday. Moms who receive public assistance before they turn 20-years-old typically stay welfare dependent for 10 years. Some states are beginning programs to train the teens with a deadline of 3 years to stop receiving public assistance.
The World at Her Feet
You have always wanted your child to have everything you didn't. You wanted her to have the world at her feet. If she is allowed to quit school, this will be the world she will see at her feet.
- She will probably exist on public assistance.
- She will always need money.
- Any job she works will be minimum wage and put her at barely above the poverty line.
- Your grandchildren will be malnourished.
- Their health care will be substandard.
- You will receive many phone calls about needed repairs: car, washing machine, water pipes, toilet, etc.
- Your grandchildren are likely to quit school.
- Your daughter will live on Social Security in her later years.
- Her health will deteriorate due to inadequate care in her younger years.
Is this the life you dreamed for your daughter?
How Much Do You Love Her?
Do you love your daughter enough to teach her to respect herself? No, it doesn't start when she is a teenager. It starts when she is in Preschool.
Do you love her enough to demand that she get an education? It starts at a very young age also. I told my children "You don't have to go to college, but you must at least go to a Tech School. The days of getting out of high school and getting a good job are gone." Teach them early that high school graduation is not the end. It is the beginning of adulthood and further education.
Do you love her enough to say "No" even when it is easier to say "Yes"? When she asks to quit school and you say "No", she is not going to go away quietly. There will be tears. There will be a temper tantrum. There will be pouting. There will be drama. Is she worth it? Is she worth enduring a short season of drama for a lifetime of success?
When my students complained about the work I made them do, I replied, "When you are an adult, your child will ask a pair of tennis shoes that costs $100. When you can afford to pay for them, say to your child, "I can buy these for you because that mean teacher made me learn even when I didn't want to."
Don't sentence your child to a lifetime of minimum wage jobs and inadequate health care. Demand that they get an education.