How to Be a Good Parent as a Teenager
Parenting is one of the most difficult things to do for adults, let alone teenagers. Raising children is endless and there is never a time when parents can "take a break" from the job. Once a parent, always a parent. This is tough for teenagers to swallow.
When a teenager becomes a parent, it is useless to dwell on how the situation came about. It is time to take a look at how the teenager can be the best parent possible for the little one that needs and deserves the love and care all children should have growing up.
One of the first things parents have to consider, whether they are teenagers themselves or not, is how they are going to financially provide for their child. Children with teenage parents are better off when there is a plan in place for their futures. Most of the time, plans include using relatives and grandparents to help out or giving up the child for adoption. If adoption is out of the question, then teenage parents have to consider the following:
Finish High School and Earn a Diploma
One of the first things teenage parents do is drop out of high school. It is important that teenage parents continue their educations and finish up with at least a high school diploma. The diploma will go much farther in helping the teenager get a decent job than a GED would in the long-run. Employers who see GEDs naturally wonder why the teenager didn't finish high school. Negative scenarios are immediately assumed, tagging the teenager as irresponsible and incapable of completing tasks.
Alternative high schools are able to enroll students until they turn 21 before counseling them into applying for GED programs at local community colleges. Some alternative high school programs even offer night school for those with abnormal schedules.
Although legally equivalent, a GED often has a negative stigma attached to it whereas a high school diploma carries no such judgment. The only real difference between the two is that one is obtained through going to four years worth of classes and meeting certain requirements, and the other, which involves taking a long test to show knowledge. Both are tickets to further education.
Get a Decent Job
Earning a high school diploma would afford the teenager a decent job without any negative judgement on the employer's part. The job would allow the teenager to provide for their child. Employers hold high school diplomas in higher esteem than GEDs because it shows them that the future employee can persevere through a situation.
Good jobs also include good health insurance, which is vital for raising children. As their bodies are building immunities, babies are always sickly and require multiple visits to doctors' offices and even emergency rooms when they are young.
As parents, teenagers have to be flexible with their times and what the job requires. They may need to find jobs at night, when parents or spouses can be home with the baby, so that they can be the primary caregiver during the day. Sometimes, teens are lucky and their parents are still around to help care for their babies. Grandparents are usually a great, trustworthy option for childcare.
Take Parenting Classes
It is good for anyone, especially a teenager, to take parenting classes. There are usually some classes offered through local non-profit organizations and various health and human services entities.
Teenagers need to learn how to care for their babies, especially those who have not been raised with many younger siblings. Young parents need to not only learn how to most appropriately hold their babies, but also how and what to feed them, how to bathe them, and how to generally care for them.
If the baby's grandparents are going to be around to assist in their upbringing, this may not be as critical, however, it is always good for the young parents to know what to do in case of emergencies. You never know, with babies, infants, and toddlers, what might happen next to warrant special care and attention.
Prioritize and Sacrifice
Good parents, whether they are teenagers or not, make sacrifices for their children. This is particularly difficult for teenagers because they, themselves, have not had opportunities to explore, grow, and learn yet, and may never get the chance to do so while trying to raise their own. Parents often give up things that used to occupy their time together, such as going to the movies, dancing the night away in clubs, and going away for the weekend.
In addition to recreational time, parents also have to sacrifice some of their own little luxuries for their children. This is especially difficult for teens because they have not had their own little luxuries for long before having to give them up for their babies. These little luxuries might include regular manicures, fancy shoes, and top-of-the-line skin care products.
Teenagers have to learn to put their babies first and give them the spots at the top of priority lists. Their children must come first.