Helping Teen Moms Graduate: Excerpt From Chapter 1

Teen Moms Anonymous, Updated Jully 11, 2024

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. . . until you climb inside his skin and walk around in it. 

–Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus to Scout

Below is an Excerpt from Ch 1 of my award-winning book, Helping Teen Moms Graduate: Strategies For Families, Schools, and Community Organizations . . .

Pregnant teens become creatively savvy in figuring out ways to hide their pregnancy. Wearing oversized shirts and jackets. Turning aside or clutching their jacket to hide their pregnant belly. Lying to classmates, keeping it a secret from their parents, assuring others they are simply putting on a little weight. They take painstaking efforts to keep their secret confidential, to the point of self-denial.

Unbeknownst to them, there are long-term consequences to keeping such a secret out of fear, judgment, and scorn. Inadequate prenatal care. No Lamaze classes or a doula to walk them through the process. No home visits from a nurse.

Students take these measures in large part to avoid their greatest fear: being judged, shunned, looked down upon, and shamed. In Chapter 1, you’ll hear the voices of graduates and new moms on how they were judged, and resounding messages to educators, loved ones, and other supporters on how to help pregnant and parenting students graduate: Don’t Judge. 

 A common thread, among the graduates interviewed for Helping Teen Moms Graduate: Strategies for Families, Schools, and Community Organizations, is they felt people judged them, and the harsh looks, disapproval, and judgment hurled in their direction, hurt them. One participant, Quincy, attested to this. Quincy became pregnant at age 15 and is clear on how being judged negatively hurt her. Her driving force to healing her pain became proving those she believed were standing in judgment, wrong.

“When I was pregnant, I had all kinds of people looking at me like, “Oh, she's pregnant? She's only fifteen, and she's pregnant? Oh, that's not nice. That's not cute.” And I even had some elderly people looking at me. They looked at me weird, then turned their heads, and squint their eyes like, “Well, why is she pregnant?” I could tell they were judging me.

My grandmother was angry with me because I was the only child and grandchild, so they expected so much from me, and to find out that I was pregnant, it was like, “Oh, oh.” Like disgust. And so, it hurt me, and I was saying to myself, “I'm going to prove all of you wrong. I'm going to prove all of you wrong; because—just because I'm pregnant does not mean I have to stop living my life.” It doesn't mean that I'm not going to make the good grades that I was making, or I'm not going to be successful and go to college.”

Quincy proved, those standing in judgment of her, wrong. She graduated from high school, and at the time of the interview conducted for the book, she was a freshman at the local community college. How did she do it? She and the other graduates agreed: they were able to overcome being judging and graduate because they had support: 

  • Support from Home–A strong female family member who wouldn’t let them give up.
  • Support from School--Their teachers who did more than educate. They inspired, encouraged and challenged them to not let their teen pregnancy hold them back. 
  • Support from Community Organizations -- Teen parenting programs that were driven to help them succeed “by any means necessary”. 

You can learn more on how to support pregnant and parenting students and read more of the graduates' stories, in my award-winning book, Helping Teen Moms Graduate: Strategies for Families, Schools, and Community Organizations.

Dr. Chris