Kids with kids

Former teen mom speaks out about the hardships of motherhood at such a young age

Emma O'Neal, Staff

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According to the Office of Adolescent Health, there were 26.5 births per 1000 female teens (this is about 273,105 babies from a teen mom that year) in 2013.

Being a teen mom is not easy and is a life-changing event because it has to do with a child creating another child. It’s a huge rough patch in a young person’s life.

“I got pregnant when I was 15 years old and had my baby when I was 16,” Melissa O’Neal said. “I was scared, anxious, and really worried. I basically panicked.”

Not many people have support when they have to tell their families or whoever what is happening in their personal lives.

“I first told my boyfriend at the time and his reaction wasn’t very surprised,” O’Neal said. “I later told my family and at first everyone disowned me except for my mom because they were all disappointed and scared for me but later, after the baby was born everyone came back around.”

Becoming pregnant could be a huge surprise to say the least. Then after you find out the news, everyone around you gets to find out. Your life changes.

“I didn’t really see my friends anymore because I was busy working for the baby or taking care of the baby. But eventually I had to take some teen mom classes at Roosevelt and I met a few teen moms in that group,” O’Neal said.

If you were a teen mom at that time, being pregnant was not an open thing. If it happend at all, it was kept hidden and not really spoken of publicly.

“I was the only teen mom that I was aware of for a while because I didn’t hear of it happening at all,” O’Neal said.

Being alone can be a huge part of being pregnant for a lot of teen moms but all the struggles on top of being alone is when daily life starts to get heavy.

“My life consisted of not having enough money, living on my own at 15 years old, I became emancipated, and I really just had to make my own way,” O’Neal said. “I also struggled with my boyfriend because he was alcoholic and he didn’t work. We eventually broke up.”

When something this big is thrown at you it can take a long time to patch things up and become more stable.

“It took me almost two years to become more comfortable with life because I turned 18 and could get a real job,” O’Neal said.

If there was more awareness and bigger educational study of these life changes maybe there wouldn’t be as big of a struggle when something does happen.

“I don’t think the rates have changed but being pregnant is now more open and more accepting. It’s not really hidden,” Hoover counselor Janet Stribling said.

If the topic of teen pregnancy was more open a couple decades ago then those teens would’ve been more aware of what it means to take care of a child.

“It’s hard to be a child and have a child at the same time,” Stribling said. “Be safe, let yourself grow up. You have all your life to have a child and you need to have your childhood before making a child.”

A lot of teens (or people in general)  just think of the now and not the future or the road ahead of themselves but every morning counts especially when it has to do with well being and life.

“Don’t think that it won’t happen to you because it very well may. It’s a life changing experience, it’s permanent, and you always have to be ready to take responsibility for your actions,” O’Neal said.

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