Jendella Benson: And They All Lived Happily Ever After
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Ah, the simple beauty of young love…
If we’re going to be honest, teenage relationships are quite complex already - but throw a baby into the mix and things can get seriously intense!
Whatever the age, research suggests that when a couple has a baby, the stress and pressure that comes with that little bundle of joy means that they argue up to 40% more. And in the US, two thirds of parents feel like the quality of their relationship declined after they had a child.
Parenting isn’t easy!
There are online courses, counselling programmes, and books dedicated to the topic of maintaining relationships after a baby, but very little of this is tailored towards young parents and their families.
In fact, one peer education programme spends a lot of effort emphasising the fact that if you are a teen mum, your partner will almost definitely leave you. Charming!
The idea of the ‘single teen mum’ is so popular that many people use the words ‘teen’ mum and ‘single mum’ interchangeably, but Chloe, Jordan, Mia and Manley show that isn’t the case at all.
But what about those teen mums who are single?
Well, what about them? There are around two million single parents in the UK and less than two percent of them are teenage parents. Even if we assume that all of them are young women, that’s hardly the hoards of single teen mums looking for handouts that governments are so concerned about.
It’s also important to mention that the added stigma of being a ‘single’ mum as well as a ‘teen’ mum in our society can pressure some young women to stay in relationships that are really not healthy. That is definitely not what any new mother or young child needs, and if we really care about the welfare of these families, then it’s not what we want either!
Even if a young mum is ‘single’ in terms of relationship status, this doesn’t mean that the father of her child isn’t involved. Sure, co-parenting isn’t always easy – Amber and Ste are not the first parents to fall out or disagree – but many young parents don’t shy away from the challenge.
Parenthood can bring a lot of pressure for both parents, but so often the focus (and scrutiny!) is on young mums. Young dads can feel left out when it comes to services and support, and that’s why organisations such as Young Dads Collective are really important. They fill that gap and provide support and encouragement for young fathers.
A newborn baby can turn the most blissful relationship into a clash of wills, but that’s all part of the growing pains that come with early parenthood.
Whether a teen mum is in a relationship with the father of her child, co-parenting or doing it single-handedly, the most important thing is that she is able to bring up her child in an overall loving and supportive environment.
Words: Jendella Benson, Young Motherhood
Don't miss ALL NEW Teen Mom UK, Wednesdays at 8pm - only on MTV! Teen Mom UK is working in partnership with charities Brook, Gingerbread and Little Lullaby to provide advice for teens on sexual health and being a single parent. If you need advice, get in touch.
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