DID YOU KNOW THAT 2000 TEEN GIRLS GET PREGNANT EVERY DAY IN THE U.S.?
Parenting at any age can be challenging, but it can be particularly difficult for teens. Compared with their peers who delay childbearing, teen girls who have babies are:
- Less likely to finish high school;
- More likely to be poor as adults;
- More likely to rely on public assistance; and
- More likely to have children who have poorer educational, behavioral, and health outcomes over the course of their lives than kids born to older parents (Kids having kids, 2008)
The leaders that we serve are challenged with overwhelming complexities facing disadvantaged youth one of which is dealing with “teen pregnancy.” Melody Gardner is the Executive Director of Kindred Spirit, in Atlanta, GA a non-profit Christian home that reaches out to pregnant teens who need a safe place to live during their pregnancy, extending God’s unconditional love and welcoming them into a healing home. Melody shares her experience below:
“Working with pregnant teens has its rewards and its challenges. It’s rewarding in knowing that what we are pouring into them will shape their future and challenging in that this group is usually not teachable and though our instruction and investment might not appear to be sinking into them, it is! They tend to be playful, yet scared at the same time. They are excited about the thought of having a baby, but are clueless about the responsibility of parenting their little one.”
One of the highest priorities of working with pregnant teens is bringing them back to reality. Using the acronym REALITY, you can help the youth remain excited about parenting their baby, but realistic about what will transpire once the baby is born.
REMIND: Remind the youth often that their life is about to change for the rest of their lives.
ENCOURAGE: Encourage the youth that being a parent at a young age is part of their journey and they need to embrace that reality.
APPLY: Help youth apply all they are learning, but in bite sized portions.
LIFT: Lift the youth to a higher level they cannot see from their vantage point and inspire them to use their life in ways they never imagined.
INVENT: Help youth to create new ways of living their life once the baby is born.
TIMING: Help the youth to learn to trust God’s timing and leading.
YESTERDAY: Remind youth that yesterday is gone and they must focus on the future and what needs to occur in their lives to prepare for being a parent.”