Teen Parent Discrimination… Let’s Talk About It!

I know. The terms “teen” and “parent” should not be stated in the same sentence unless it is to addressing each party individually. Society, as a whole, has made it clear that teens shouldn’t be parents by the maltreatment that they have given them. It is something that my organization, Purposely Chosen, Inc. and the teen parents that we serve face regularly.

So, let’s talk about it.

“Discrimination is the treatment of a person or a particular group of people differently, in a way that is worse than the way people are USUALLY treated…”

I was 19 years old when my name changed to “mommy.” I got married when I was 18 years old, and one year and one month later, I was giving birth to my firstborn son. Throughout my pregnancy, I found it difficult to express myself to “adults” although I knew what my needs were. I felt unheard by my Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB-GYN) physician, and often my concerns were ignored. My OB-GYN questioned the date of my last menstrual period as if knowledge of my own body couldn’t be trusted. So, at 42 weeks, I gave birth to my son through an emergency Cesarean Section. 42 weeks! Now, most would say that two weeks post-term delivery is ok; but how could it be ok when I had no other choice but to have EMERGENCY surgery? 

My labor was induced 14 days after my due date. While in labor, my son started showing signs of fetal distress. We later discovered that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, causing his heart rate to fall during contractions. (The umbilical cord provides oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the developing fetus.) And after ten long hours of labor, I was rushed into an operating room with no clarity on what was happening. 

I’m not implying that having a caesarean section was 100% preventable; however, I am saying that my OB-GYN didn’t listen when I expressed my concerns about how uncomfortable I was and about how horrible I was feeling two weeks prior, on or around my due date. I felt dismissed and told that I was I “too young” and didn’t know what I was feeling. All my concerns were summed up as being “normal”. It is true that I didn’t understand everything that was said; however, no one asked if I understood. I only was TOLD what was going to happen.

I know my experience validates why most say that teens shouldn’t have babies. Regardless, I was a mom. No matter how young or old, I was a mom. I should have been educated, counseled, advised, etc. accordingly.

Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. My organization, Purposely Chosen, Inc. fight the battle of teen parent discrimination every day in the schools, hospital, with social workers, law enforcement, in grocery stores, the community in which they live, and this list goes on. The reality is that teen parents aren’t going anywhere. We must learn how to serve this population without judgment and biases.