Are young parents bad parents?

When I found out I was pregnant last January I’d just turned 24 years old. I was the same age in September when I gave birth to Autumn. I thought that was probably quite average, I didn’t think it was that young to become a mum for the first time. However, when I started going to baby groups I usually found that I was the youngest there. In one of the groups, a first time mum was only a few months younger than my mum!

Am I a young parent?

The latest Conceptions in England and Wales report from the Office of National Statistics found that in 2015, “conception rates [once again] increased for women aged 25 years and over, and decreased for women aged under 25 years”.

The graph below, from the report, shows just dramatically how conception rates of younger women have been decreasing over recent years and how conception rates of older women have been increasing.

ages-of-conception-in-england-and-wales-2015

Based on this, it’s no wonder that I often find myself the youngest!

Stigma I’ve experienced

Sometimes I find that others seem to look down on me. They act as though I might not be as good a mum as them because they’re older than me. I expect they base this on having more life experience than me. In fact, when Autumn was in hospital after her operation at 5 weeks, I remember some of the nurses talking to me like I was a child. Even my parents-in-law picked up on it, and I actually felt like one nurse was directing a lot of what she was saying to them rather than me, despite me being Autumn’s mum. One of the members of staff in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit guessed my age at 16; it certainly doesn’t help that I look much younger than my age.

However, I felt a little angry. Even if I did look like I was a teenager, it didn’t mean that I should be treated like a child.The information should have been directed towards me as her mum. After all, I was the one who followed my instincts and thought something serious was happening when she first fell ill. I quite possibly saved her life when thanks to me the doctors determined that she was having trouble breathing.

happy-baby-of-a-young-mum-mom

Young parents can be good parents

My own parents were 18 and 20 when I was born and I actually think that they were better parents than many parents older than them. They were responsible,  dressed me well and made sure that I had good manners. They helped me to learn and have a good education. Of course, things were a bit of a struggle for them at times, but I look back on my upbringing with fond memories. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything.

Having young parents can be an advantage

For me, having young parents was actually big advantage. While friends complained about the music their parents listened to in the car, my parents had a modern taste in music. I remember them playing Busted loudly and us all singing along on holiday in 2003. My mum understood what was fashionable. As a teenager I would often borrow her shoes as we are the same shoe size!

are-young-parents-bad-parents-teen-mum-mom

The notion that younger parents aren’t good parents irks me. I’ve spoken to some other young mums about why they believe they are good mums. They have also experienced some stigma as young parents.

Makeup and Mummy Days‘s Story:

Hello,

I became a mummy at the age of 18. Many, many people had their opinions on this and there seemed to be this stigma and belief that:

  1. My whole life was over. I might as well just through in the towel and retire now.
  2. I would not be able to cope.

My goal is to make it known that whether you became a young mummy out of choice or as a surprise; this does not make you any less of a mother than women who have children later. Here is a couple of reasons why I am still a kick-ass mum, even though I am young (kind of proud of that, that just kind of rhymed).

My Energy Levels

It probably will not come as a surprise to you that new mums are tired. We loose a lot of that valuable time in the Land of Nod. Being a younger mum helps you to keep up with the lack of sleep and level of demand a new baby has.

I am more determined

He has made me want to work harder. I have always loved working but, since I found out I was expecting my son I have nearly completed an Access Course and am due to start University studying Law at the end of this year. This will enable me to provide a positive future for us.

My Son comes first

No matter what I need or want, my son’s needs and wants will always trump mine. He is and always will be mine and my partner’s number one priority.

My main point is all mother’s love their babies with all of their heart and soul and would do anything to keep them safe and happy. Whether you become a mum at 18 or 40, this doesn’t affect your ability to parent and to parent well. I am proud to be a young mummy.

(The Prescott Family) Leah’s Story:

I had my daughter Willow when I was 18. I might be extremely biased but I think being a young parent is much harder than being an older parent. As well as being a parent,I have to juggle my education,a job and most of my friends don’t have children due to their age.However, when you’re older,most are settled in a job and most of your friends are either expecting too or already parents. I do think we all have the same wants and fears for our children though and we all do our damn best for our babies,even when they’re having babies of their own.

 (Shoes Smile Style) Klaudia’s story:

When making the split-second opinion about someone’s parenting while you glance at them and their child in a shop or on the street, a lot of people include the way the mother looks as a huge part of it. When the mother is young, people assume things; she’s a whore. She’s going nowhere in life she’s a teen mum and a waste of space. Kids having kids. I’ve heard it all before.
On another end of the spectrum, I’ve also heard people call me ‘brave‘ for being a young mum? Would you say that to a married thirty-year-old woman who has kids?
My all time favourite is the approximately third question people ask (after my daughter’s age and my age) – ‘Are you still with her father?’ or even better, ‘Do you still contact her father?’.
I will never understand how that is an appropriate question to ask a perfect stranger. I don’t go around asking Middle-aged women on the bus if they’re STILL in a relationship. It goes in the same category as ‘did you plan to get pregnant at such a young age?’ And ‘what’s your favourite sexual position?’. There are questions that are just inappropriate and rude.
Even if asked out of curiosity or for the opportunity to offer some sort of moral support (given that my answer was to be negative). How could I be with the father of my child? How could I be with the love of my life, STILL.
When met with a ‘Yes, we live together and love each other very much’ I can see the satisfaction for the judgemental prick asking the question starting to simmer down and lose interest. If you want to hear some sort of melodramatic story about a crack whore teen mum with a deadbeat boyfriend who disappeared when there was a mention of a possible offspring, go on the internet or watch some reality tv. Here all you’re seeing is a loving family with a perfect 3-year-old child, trying to make it in a bad economic situation. I don’t deserve the ‘brave’ name nor does my partner deserve the ‘you’re an amazing person for sticking with some girl you got pregnant and raising your child’ cookies and stars that people seem to give away as soon as they find out we are a family.
We’re just like any other parents. Well, except the fact that we don’t loathe our child for having to put a fancy career on a stand-still for the duration of the maternity leave – we don’t have careers yet because we’re in our early 20s, we will have the time. Now, we have the time to treasure every precious moment with our child and not miss a day of it. She will always come first and our whole life will plan out around her just like it should do. We don’t have to fit her into our lives, we are building a life together with the three of us. The best part of it is that I will most likely get to see her have children, grow up into an adult, get married, have a life. Heck, I might even meet my great grandkids at the age of 65 if I’m lucky enough.
 teen-pregnancy-young-mother

Conclusion

You see, although being a younger parent may be harder in some respects, it’s easier in others. I don’t believe for a second that people aren’t as good at being parents based on their age. If you’re a good parent, you’re a good parent, simple as. Both myself and these lovely ladies all love our children and put them first. Please stop with the judgemental looks and comments!

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My Random Musings

26 Comments

  1. 15th April 2017 / 9:30 am

    People will judge parents on anything and everything! It annoys me greatly. Age is stuck a subjective thing anyway. I work with a 22 year old who is wise beyond her years and a 30 year old who I’m amazed has managed to get this far, if I’d had to guess ages on those two I’d have been very wrong! #blogstravaganza

  2. 15th April 2017 / 2:00 pm

    I don’t really believe there is any right or wrong age. I was 24 giving birth to my first son and because I was then over 25 giving birth to my youngest son, I remember the doctors referring to me as geriatric in terms of birthing age. I was gobsmacked.

    My sister was 17, we as a family did think she was too you, but it proved to be the best thing for her. When her son was able to start nursery she was able to return to college and get more qualifications than I ever have.

    It is a very interesting debate as different tribes/societies have different view points. Many girls begin their periods as young as 8. Their body is saying it is ready to reproduce. Is a fault that we need to fix, because they are too young? Or have our bodies not yet adapted to the fact we now live much longer so can have children much later, rather than as children ourselves?

  3. 15th April 2017 / 3:22 pm

    I was 25 when I had my first and I can relate to a lot of the stigma you experienced. I love being a young mum though, it’s how we wanted to do things! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza, hope to see you again next week xx

  4. 16th April 2017 / 7:37 am

    Love this post so much! I was 27 when I had Dougie, and even that felt relatively young to me, but I agree completely with everything everyone you spoke to has said – especially on the part that being younger means we should have more energy to deal with the exhaustion! Age shouldn’t come into it, if you love your child and do your best for them then that’s what counts 🙂

  5. 16th April 2017 / 3:14 pm

    As much as I hate to say it, I don’t think it matters how old you are – us parents get judged regardless. It always feels like someone somewhere knows better. I’m 36 this year and I certainly wouldn’t say I’m a better parent or know more than you! I think we all learn as we go, no matter how how old we are. Nothing prepares you for parenting. Great post. #thatfridaylinky

  6. 17th April 2017 / 10:17 am

    Love this! I am a young parent myself, I am 18 years old and have a 1 year old babygirl. I absolutely love being a mum, it’s hard work but I think it definitely does have it’s advantages.

  7. 17th April 2017 / 11:34 am

    Couldn’t agree more. Bring a young parent doesn’t make you a bad one, however stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. It is common to see trashy and poor parenting by many youth parents. Just because I am young doesn’t mean I will or do fall into that stereotype. I fell pregnant at 17, I had my first daughter at 18 and by 19 my husband and I had bought our first house. My nearly 2year old doesn’t sit infront of the TV all day, she knows all her body parts, heck she doesn’t even eat sugar or processed food. She’s always in clean clothes and just is genuinely a good kid. I’m a good mum regardless of my age. #anythinggoes

  8. 17th April 2017 / 1:14 pm

    When I was expecting baby number three at 36 I was classed as a geriatric mum! I do think age is just a number and we shouldn’t worry about it #postsfromtheheart
    Crummy Mummy recently posted…10 reasons I hate craftingMy Profile

  9. Nige
    17th April 2017 / 4:37 pm

    People love to judge parents any age are good and bad being young doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference to me Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

  10. 19th April 2017 / 12:29 pm

    People will always judge young parents, which is wrong. Older parents can be just as bad, if not more bad at being parents than ‘young parents’. I don’t age defines how good a parent you are, it’s who you are as individual that does. .Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky
    Emily recently posted…What kind of parent are you?My Profile

  11. 20th April 2017 / 8:43 am

    Brilliant post! I was 21 when I had my first daughter & most of the mums in the baby groups were in their 30s and I feel like they judged me so much, needless to say I didn’t make any mummy friends! Such a shame we get judged, I actually think I am quite a good mum despite my age! Even if I do say so myself haha! #brilliantblogposts x

  12. 20th April 2017 / 11:38 am

    People always have an opinion on parenting. I was the youngest at NCT at 27 but that’s not really young. Hate judgement of any kind. Young and older mums alike can make great mothers x

  13. 20th April 2017 / 1:54 pm

    What a great post!! Being a good parent has nothing to do with your age. Sure, you might not have as much life experience, but I think the most important part of parenting is loving your children—and there’s no best age for that!!
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com
    #ablogginggoodtime

  14. 20th April 2017 / 3:35 pm

    My sister had a very similar experience when she had her little boy – I agree there isn’t really an optimum age, everyone is ready at different times. #ABloggingGoodTime

  15. 20th April 2017 / 8:17 pm

    I am a mother of three boys at the age of 27. My youngest was born when I was 26. I love the fact that I am a young parent. I will still be able to enjoy my life when my kids are old enough to take care of themselves. #postsfromtheheart

  16. 20th April 2017 / 8:43 pm

    This is such a great, positive post. I was 20 when I had my eldest and did for a long time feel judged. I always felt conspicuous at school parents evening especially as now a single mum. I think (think) I’ve finally gotten over it though. There’ll always be judgy pants people! #ablogginggoodtime
    daydreams of a mum recently posted…University open days?? How? My Profile

  17. 21st April 2017 / 9:09 pm

    I don’t think 24 is a young parent at all, it’s funny how people view it differently. I was 23 when I had my eldest and didn’t feel young, nor did people act as though I was. I was 33 when I had my fifth baby and I actually felt really old, and several people did comment on how old I was to be having a baby! Whatever the age, be the best parent you can be, it’s no-one elses business. #brilliantblogpost

  18. 22nd April 2017 / 8:18 am

    Judgement holds people back. Society seems focuses on division and so if the pro is that young parents are feisty and fighting harder to make awesome bundles then perhaps it could be a good thing?
    I’m not sure what determines a ‘good’ parent and whether age would feature in my definition, the only thing that may is financial security – the ability to provide may be hampered in early teen years…I wouldn’t say that at 24 you were a young mum. 14-17 yrs would probably be my definition, but then as I said at the beginning who am I to judge – we’re all just winging it.

  19. 23rd April 2017 / 9:25 am

    I love this post so much. My parents were only 20 when they had me and I had a wonderful childhood, it also meant that I was lucky enough to have great grandparents well into adulthood and that my children still have theirs. There are nine years between my children, so as a parent I guess I’ve done both youngish and oldish and so can certainly vouch for the fact that their are pros and cons to both. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful post with us at #PostsFromTheHeart

  20. 24th April 2017 / 2:17 pm

    Thanks so much for exploring this issue! I was 25 when I had my daughter, I didn’t feel young but everyone was pretty obsessed with telling me I was 🙂 Great post #postsfromtheheart

  21. 24th April 2017 / 10:24 pm

    I’m the same as you – I became a mum at 24 and had no idea that was classed as “young” until I started going to baby groups and I was so much younger than everyone else. I read recently that the average age to have your first child is 30.3yrs old.

    I also feel that I get looked down on by other mums and treated like I don’t know what I’m doing. Even now I’m 30, I’m still looked down on because as I’ve got older, so has everyone else so I’m still the youngest.

    Well done for highlighting this issue. #blogcrush
    Lucy At Home recently posted…#BlogCrush Week 10: 21st April 2017My Profile

  22. 26th April 2017 / 7:58 pm

    I think there is an awful stereotype surrounding young parents and definitely don’t think that being young means you will automatically be a bad parent. My brother and his partner are 21 and 20 and have an 8 month old little girl and do you know I think it has been the making of them and I am incredibly proud of how well they have done and how much my niece is thriving!
    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime and don’t forget to join us again this week!

  23. 27th April 2017 / 8:15 pm

    A really interesting discussion here. As a first time Mum at 30 I was a generation older than my Mum when she had me. As an 18 year old I was so carefree and I wonder how that would have affected my parenting – more chilled maybe? I definitely had a less stable life (no house, career etc) but last time I checked that isn’t a requirement for being a loving Mum.
    My Mum would be a great person to interview as she had two ‘sets’ of kids – one in her late teens and another in her early forties.
    I think you’re right though – age is nothing but a number…
    Thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub

  24. 30th April 2017 / 10:58 pm

    I don’t understand why people feel the need to be judgmental. Of course younger parents can be just as good parents as older ones. Being asked about whether you’re still in a relationship with the father is just rude – why on earth do complete strangers feel they have the right to ask someone that kind of a question? I have to say, I wouldn’t have thought of 24 as being especially young. My twin sister had her first child at 24 and several of her friends had children by that age too. In my family, I was quite old to have my first baby at 32 – all my siblings had their first children much younger and most of them had finished having children long before they hit 30. I do agree that being younger probably helps energy-wise though – I find sleep deprivation harder to cope with the older I get! #coolmumclub

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