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.
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.
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!
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:
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:
- My whole life was over. I might as well just through in the towel and retire now.
- 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.