This is NOT What a Young Mom Looks Like

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Image Flickr/robotclaw

Whenever I see another “breaking news” story about Teen Mom Farrah Abraham, like her most recent entrance into a rehab program, I feel simultaneously saddened and embarrassed for the young mom.

I mean, she’s obviously one confused young woman and I imagine she’s dealing with a lot, but still, there’s a part of me that is outraged at her for one very simple reason: 

She’s making young mothers everywhere look bad.

Unfortunately, Farrah is completely living up to those ill-purported and cringe-worthy stereotypes about young moms: that they are ignorant, foolish, selfish young women looking for a hand-out and doing anything they can to avoid actually taking care of their child.

As a young mom myself — I delivered my daughter one week after I graduated — I am here to tell you:

Farrah Abraham is not what a young mom looks like.

These women are what young moms look like.

GloriaMalone

Young moms look like Gloria Malone of Teen Mom NYC, who became pregnant with her daughter at age 15, and has gone on to become a successful writer, speaker, and teen mom advocate. Gloria has appeared on all sorts of prestigious media outlets, like the New York Times, NPR, and the O’Reily Factor. “Pregnant and parenting teens to deserve to be happy about parenthood,” Gloria writes on her blog.

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teenmom_slide2_jessica_watson

Young moms look like Jessica Watson, who had her oldest daughter at age 18, and is now a writer, blogger, and mom of four plus an angel. If you ever want to be moved, possibly to tears, her blog is kind of a must-read.

young-mom-michelle-horton

Young moms look like Michelle Horton of Early Mama, one of my all-time favorite bloggers who is a writer at Babble and has created an entire movement dedicated to young motherhood.

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teenmom_slide4_mandy

Young moms look like Mandy of The B Sides: Thoughts of An Amateur, who delayed her schooling for a year to welcome the best surprise of her life — her son, Brady. Mandy will finish up her schooling to become a elementary teacher next fall.

 young-mom-amanda-mom-is-awesome

Young moms look like Amanda from Dude Mom (and the mom behind our very own My Mom is Awesome column)  who had her first child while in college at the age of 22. She’s now raising three lovely boys while celebrating 10 years of bliss,  having comfort in her own skin, and loving life as a mom of all things boy. 

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chaunieandkids

Young moms look like me, someone who has managed to pop out three kids in the past four years, all by the age of 27, and still managing to chase my dreams of becoming a successful writer.  I’ve even written my first book on young motherhood (due out next year!) and in interviewing countless young mothers, I can assure you that we are a motivated, intelligent, and professional bunch.

And although the majority of us may not look like Farrah in her bikini,

We can all agree—motherhood still looks pretty good on us.

All blogger photos used with bloggers’ permission

{Related: Is There a Right Age For Motherhood?}

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What do you think?

This is NOT What a Young Mom Looks Like

Chaunie Brusie is a coffee mug addict, a labor and delivery nurse turned freelance writer, and a young(ish) mom of four. She is the author of "Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Moving Forward In Faith, & Reclaiming Your Life In An Unplanned Pregnancy" and "The Moments That Made You A Mother". She also runs Passion Meets Practicality, a community of tips + inspiration for work-at-home mothers. ... More

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56 comments

  1. i had my 1st child at 18 and my second at 19. i was a very respon. teen mom i graduated high school n was working 2 full time jobs to make sure they were takin care of but it was hard so i wouldnt rec, it to anyone but at least i took respon. for my kids

  2. Profile photo of Jessica Jessica says:

    I had my first daughter when I was 15. I finished high school by going to school and graduated with honors. I then went on to college and graduated with a psychology degree and now I am working on my Master’s in clinical psychology. I now have a total of 5 little girls and I am 27 years old. It drives me crazy that the world has to see all the bad associated with being a young mother. It is hard but I wouldn’t trade any of it. It is all about how you handle things. Don’t give up on your dreams just because you are thrown a curve ball.

  3. Profile photo of Leslie Leslie says:

    I had my girl after I finish college. I was 27th, but a year half ago I was in a car accident with her. we are suppose to be dead. some angels were looking out for us. I saw the ice slow down and hit it just right, black out. someone told me I hit another car and roll my car twice. I look like I hit a wall with my body being all red and bumps all over, and could not walk for two weeks. forgot I had my child with me till I heard her crying after I woke up. she was fine. she is not almost three and after that accident my depression took a hike. I now do more stuff with my daughter and she is special needs because mommy has learning disabilities. she is in school, knows sign language, and is very smart.

  4. Profile photo of Angelica Angelica says:

    Young moms like Farrah Abraham should definitely think of adoption. Or at least think about protection if they feel they are going to use that poor child as leverage or a ticket for their hand outs. I may not be a young mom but I knew from the get go I did not want to be a pregnant teen because of fear of my parenting skills at that time. I also had ambitions of my own before taking care of dependents. I loved kids and always will love kids but I believe young girls these days do not realize the freedoms they lose when they choose to ignore the alternatives for protections. I also believe it’s partially sociological thinking: if the parents avoid or make sex sound bad, teens are more likely to rebel against the parents. We as parents are already seen as bad guys no matter what, the least we can do is have an open mind about their sexual activity and embrace the fact they are looking to become unique adults.

  5. Profile photo of Julie Julie says:

    Farrah and the other “Teen Moms” may not be role models, but they ARE still an example of what some teen moms look like. Some teen moms (and older moms, too) are selfish, some are not. Some make good decisions, some don’t. Even though everyone may not be pleased with these girls or their behavior, they still make up part of the fabric of teen moms.

    • Profile photo of Maria Maria says:

      Thank you! Also to say anything about teen moms when their “young mom” examples were mostly 20 or older having children – it is ridiculous to make that comparison. I was a teen mom and now being twenty having my second child (planned) I can honestly say it is less difficult at 18+ to raise a child: no work stipulations or restrictions on college education.

  6. Profile photo of JoAnne JoAnne says:

    I had my first baby at the age of 18 and I had my first 3 by the age of 22. I have to say that I do not like the show teen mom because it only tells children out there like my teenage girls and my teenage son that it’s ok to have children earlier. While I had them I would not want my children to have babies that early. I think that a lot of girls are definitely not ready for it at that age but I also agree that some are more mature than others. I had to mature in order to keep my son but I’m not the same as everyone else, so my advice would be to really contemplate hard about whether or not you are ready.

  7. Profile photo of Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

    I’ve often thought that shows like Teen Mom were a great concept, but I’m very unhappy with the turnout. Are people really more interested in the negative choices that people make? I’m 22, happily married, and have 3 amazing children. Why can’t that be televised? No one should care about keeping up with so much negative drama. Rewarding such behavior only guarantees that it will continue.

  8. Profile photo of Saraid Saraid says:

    In a way it seems that teenage girls just want to have babies at a young age because they dont want to be old once their kids get to a certain age just so they can be the cool moms that media portrays. And to be honest its a real shame that girls have to have sex at a young age because they want to seem cool or because they have peer pressure. And when you say something like Im 16 but Im more like a 25, then why don’t you act with more responsability and wait until you get to that age.

  9. Profile photo of Carmen Carmen says:

    While I totally agree that “Teen Moms” is one of the most stupid shows ever made and gives regular teen moms a bad reputation, I believe that no 16-, 17- or 18-year old should have a child. I am sorry if I have very extreme and maybe old-fashioned opinions about this, but at this age, nobody is ready – emotional, educational or financial – for a child. There are enough ways to prevent a pregnancy if you must have sex at this age!

    • The human race survived by women raising families as teens for hundreds of years. While I do not necessary agree with it for today…I think it is wrong for you to say that no one is ready or can handle it

    • Profile photo of robyn robyn says:

      To say no 16-17-18 year old is an old fashioned idea seems to me the opposite of old fashioned. Young women might not be ready for their children but most of them make due and handle their responsibilities. People generally aren’t ready for car accidents, wild fires, or other unexpected things. Heck tons of women in their 20’s and 30’s aren’t ready for parenthood. I had my oldest when I was 14 years old, I worked 2 full time jobs through out my teens to take care of us. I married his father when I was 18 and we currently have 4 perfectly healthy, intelligent and well cared for children. I am a senior in college studying child psych and a full academic scholarship. So maybe you shouldn’t judge or categorize young mothers if you’ve never been through the experience yourself.

      • Profile photo of Carmen Carmen says:

        I clearly said that “I believe” no teenager is ready for a baby! And I stand by my opinion. Maybe you were the exception to the rule, having a kid at 14… although seriously I cannot believe that this was your dream childhood! And by the way, comparing a pregnancy with a car accident makes me think that is what you thought of your pregnancy at 14. There is no comparison as there are enough ways to prevent it. A pregnancy is not something that just happens – there is only one way! And to be honest, having sex at 13 to have a child at 14??? You must be kidding me if you think that you represent a good example for today’s children!

        • Profile photo of Joanna Joanna says:

          and to be honest carmen who are you to judge, you havent walked in her shoes now have you. To quick to judge plus i bet your not all so mrs perfect. BTW i know alot of 20 – 30 – 40 year olds that younger mums take care of there kids better then they do ! im 18 and had my first boy 9 weeks ago, i have had a fulltime job in a law firm for the past year and a half my boy has everything he wants & needs . So before you walk in someone elses shoes why dont you get off your high horse & quit the critisism because like i said who are you to judge.

  10. Profile photo of Cesia perez Cesia perez says:

    I got married at 16 and had my baby at17 now im 22 and have 4 babies and im a happy mom.. Raising my children is my joy!!!

  11. Profile photo of Alicia Alicia says:

    You are so right! I had my first daughter at 16 and here I am, age 32, married 13 years with 5 children altogether and I’ve never been to rehab, done porn or had a train wreck life. Shame on people who look down on all young moms over these poor examples!

  12. Profile photo of Jessabelli Jessabelli says:

    We got engaged when we were 17. We’ve been living together since the day after my graduation (A little over a year ago), and we’re finally pregnant!!
    We decided we were ready, and that we wanted a baby. We’re 19 now, we’ll be 20 when the baby gets here.
    I’m sick of all the snotty comments about being young. Yes, my birth certificate says I’m 19. But I don’t feel like I’m 19. I have far more responsibility, and I’m far more mature than most children my age.

  13. Profile photo of Grayce Grayce says:

    It’s dose not matter how old you are when you have a baby and it makes me sick when people will talk so much about how you are to young and judge you I will be 18 in a month and my son is 3 months old not once I have ever left him with someone so I can go hangout with my friends when you get pregnant it’s time to step but and that’s what most teen moms don’t do, I have a full time job at night take care of my son during the day why his dad is at work , home school while taking care of my own house and Pay own bill so the next time people won’t to talk bad about teen moms think about all the good ones out there

  14. Profile photo of Erin Erin says:

    I had my daughter twenty days after graduating from MA school, she was very unplanned but very loved from the beginning . Her father (which we are now happily married) was there the whole time, without him I don’t think I could have made it though the pregnancy alone much less the birth. My family like always didn’t help me one bit, they in fact were one step short of disowning me. I would do anything for my daughter she is my whole life, which I am very lucky to be able to stay home with her. I wake up everyday to be the best mother and wife I can despite I am young but I always know that I will be able to keep up with my daughter no matter what she is doing.

  15. Profile photo of Eden Eden says:

    I did everything young. Engaged at 17, after a year, married, and got pregnant soon after. I had my first at 19. I had always had a job since my first interview at 16 and worked until 3 days before my due date. Since then, i am turning 22 next month and have a 2 1/2 year old and a 8 month old. They are my everything. We moved a few months before my second was born and my job wouldve been 90miles away. I had to quit. And if i got another job it would barely cover daycare costs, my husband would probably have to pay it, so i became a stay at home mom..next month will be a year since i left and i love it. My boys are my everything. I have never even been to a club and am not interested at all. We now own our own house and do everything on our own. I am not like these girls, plus im not like my family. First to get married before pregnancy and one of the oldest to have first child.

  16. Profile photo of Saraid Saraid says:

    I understand that Television and shows like Teen Mom have negative influence on the people’s perspective of teenagr motherhood, but that doesn’t change the fact that more teenagers are becoming sexually active at such a young age andget clumsy with taking protection. That responsibility of the parents to teach their kids about sex and protection and the risks is almost unimportant because now a days everyone has become more liberal and parents are trying to be more like friends than a parent.I am against teen pregnancy when its about girls from ages 13-18 getting pregnant. At that age vomiting, changing diapers, sleepless, and crying baby should not be on your agenda. Why worry about trying to be a young mom and cool, instead worry about getting a great education and a career so that when the correct time comes and the right guy you will be ready to have a family.

  17. Profile photo of alesia alesia says:

    I became a mother at the age of 16 while on birth control, i am nothing like these girls , i grew up unlike them, my son is my life and always will be, i work full time went to college (all on my own my parents kicked me out because i was pregnant) my son is now going to be 5 the first week of October. i have a car a house a job an education and a husbadn and a son and i did it all on my own (my sons father was abusive so i left him) being a good mother has nothing to do with age and everything to do with maturity level and knowing that your child is the most important person in the world and nothing should come before said child. that means no parties no drinking no boyfriend should come first always put your child before yourself and remember that every choice you make not only changes your life but the life of your child and you will do fine.

  18. Profile photo of Maria Maria says:

    Some teen mothers do act like Farrah you can’t say that teen mom isn’t what real moms look like because each mother is different. The show has also seen good mothers, stressed mothers among others. I was sixteen when I had my daughter graduated high school early two days before my due date, no I’m not Farrah but some girls are and this show gives them someone to relate to. Not every young girl is prepared for being a parent much less doing it on TV for women like you to judge. In reality women would support each other not break one another down. But this world isn’t perfect. My daughter is now four and expecting a sibling who I tried for a year to conceive. But I knew a girl like Farrah who quit school, who was selfish but she still raised her daughter maybe you should look at the facts instead of adoption or abortion Farrah chose to raise her daughter. That is decision you both share and we can all relate to.

    • Profile photo of Maria Maria says:

      Also at least she had the guts and nerve to go to rehab to better herself for the people in her life. I hope none of your children ever use drugs but if they do you’d learn that when someone takes that step support is all anyone can give. Let’s be frank I’d prefer seeing her in rehab vs. The other said example of drug abuse on teen mom. You should be ashamed honestly very ashamed because after all the bad choices all the problems the one time a great choice is made it is condemned.

  19. Profile photo of LaurenAnne LaurenAnne says:

    I really hate this idea that teen moms are selfish, dumb, and lazy. I’m currently 27 weeks with my first daughter and when she’s here I’ll be almost 18 and a single mom. Just because I’m young doesn’t mean I can’t do it. I’ve done online school for about 2 years now and am set to graduate early in December and am currently 2nd in my class. I come from a family with soon to be 14 children. I live at home with all of them except for my oldest brother who’s in his 20s. I’ve been helping take care of babies for as long as I can remember. I believe I am plenty capable of providing for and raising a child.

  20. Profile photo of Beatrice Beatrice says:

    Television is hardly ever an accurate depiction of anything, anyway.

  21. Profile photo of Shiloh JohnsonEditor Shiloh Johnson says:

    Great post Chaunie! I love seeing the “other” side of things. We have to always remember that life is not a one size fits all package 🙂 You cannot pre-judge people! And although I am hopefully that my daughter won’t become a teen mom herself, I also hope that if that ever was the case, that she’d prove to be the kind of mother you’ve shown here in your slideshow!

  22. Profile photo of Ashley Ashley says:

    And what about the teen dads? Like my husband who become a dad at the age of 19. Now at 25 is an E5 in the army and almost finished with his environmental science degree. On top of which he worked extra jobs insisting I say home with our kids. But some how always makes it home for dinner and to church on Sundays!!

  23. Profile photo of Tabytha Tabytha says:

    I totally agree that “Teen Mom” is not what a typical teen mom looks like. I know that as a teen mom myself, I had my son a month before I turned 18, I had not finished school yet (actually had dropped out) and was still living at home. I had to work very hard to get a job (especially with finding someone I could not only afford but trust with my son) so that I could eventually get out on my own. That didn’t happen though until I was expecting number 2! My daughter I had 3 months after I turned 19….. still considered a teen mom! with 2 under 2 years old it was rough. I ended up divorcing my husband at the time and was on my own with the kids for about 4 years. Working to pay my rent and the bills and still afford diapers, wipes and food, making sure they got to daycare and that was paid….. now at the age of 30 I am happily married have 2 step children who are 14 and almost 10, my 12 and 11 year olds, an almost 15 year old that we recently got guardianship of and our newest addition is our 1 1/2 year old daughter. Things are still tough but I would never take back having my kids as they are and always will be my world! I did not get my nails done all the time, couldn’t afford a 1000 a month rent and move every month, only got my hair done on very rare occasions (normally it was/is my sister that does my hair)….. being a teen mom is rough, it is in no way the walk in the park that the show makes it out to be.

  24. Profile photo of nichole nichole says:

    while i dont recommend being a teen mom, i certainly hate the image that the show is giving teen moms now. just because you ended up with a child, while you were young, doesnt mean your going to ditch the kid with your parents so you can be a wild child, or that your going to let the kid go with out just so you can have what you want, or that your going to just end up being a go nowhere person living on welfare the rest of your life. yes, this does happen for some, but not for all, i dont think it happens for the majority of teen/young mom, and i know people who have been older and had kids who fit the “teen mom” stereotype perfectly. teen and young moms need to be supported and not looked down upon. ive known some woman, and even some men, who had kids while teens or super young, and they were/are awesome, loving parents, who are not only doing what is best for their kids, but doing what is best for them, and working towards/or in carriers that dont include flipping burgers.

  25. Profile photo of jennifer jennifer says:

    im a teen mom n i act nothing like that my baby is my main goal wen shes out my tummy shell still b my main goal to keep happy n fresh each day

    • Profile photo of nichole nichole says:

      trust in yourself, do what is right by your baby, and ignore all of the looks and attitude from people who say your too young to have a baby. keep that idea fresh in your mind and your actions, and im sure you will raise a wonderful child, reguardless of your age at her birth! *hugs* and well wishes for you both my dear.

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