21 Feb

Hey everyone! I apologize for the lack of updates. Flu and computer problems were keeping me from my blogging duties, but now I’m back. Yay!


Now I’m Interviewing… You!

21 Feb

Hey, teen mamas. The recent interview with Maci made me think about the importance of teen mothers in general — not just famous ones on MTV — sharing their stories. So, in the comments, please share whatever you wish to share about being a teen parent. If you are stumped about what to say, here are a few questions to get you started:

1. Was your pregnancy planned or not?

2. If you ended up keeping your baby, what caused you to make that decision? Did you ever consider abortion or adoption?

3. Do you feel like you are missing out or have missed out on anything important because of your early parenthood?

4. What are your goals, aside from being a great parent?

Maci of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” Opens Up to Teen Mama

21 Feb

If you’ve ever watched MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” or “Teen Mom” — and if you’re reading this, you probably have — then you know Maci. You’ve seen her struggle to keep her relationship with her baby’s father, Ryan, afloat; you’ve seen her exhausted, finishing schoolwork late at night; you’ve seen her in labor. When she cries in front of the camera, you cry too. (It’s not just me, right? Right?)

So when I got an offer to interview Maci for Teen Mama, I jumped at the chance.

Alexandra: What sort of sex education do you think teens should get?

Maci: I guess it just depends on what you believe in and, to me, abstinence really doesn’t do any good because people are gonna have sex when they want to have sex and when they feel like they’re ready to, and so if you go the abstinence route you completely block off the whole safe sex route so that kids just never even learn about that, but if you go with safe sex, you can tap into abstinence and how it’s better to wait to have sex, but at the same time, you can tell them about safe sex and different options that they have so you’re kind of getting both at one time. But that’s just how I would do it.

Alexandra: Yes, I agree. And what sort of sex education did you get, and do you feel like there’s anything you should have been told differently or, looking back, that you wish could be changed?

Maci: I kind of realized that when I was in high school, my high school didn’t offer very much sex education at all. I can only remember talking about sex and safe sex and stuff like that in high school once — only one time — and I mean, just for a person like me, I feel like the more sex education I can get, the better off I hope I would have been. And then, besides that, I feel like… after the show, and when I got the feedback from it, and after I watched the show, I honestly would’ve — I think, if “16 and Pregnant” would have been on while I was in high school, I honestly think it would have made such a big impact on me that I would have changed my mind, and so “16 and Pregnant” was a big deal for me because, like I said, I felt like if I had seen “16 and Pregnant”, it would’ve made a huge difference in my decision to have sex, and so I hope that the show does its job in a way that can inform people about sex and teen pregnancy and stuff like that.

Alexandra: A lot of people say that shows like “16 and Pregnant” glamorize teen pregnancy. How do you feel about that claim?

Maci: You know, I definitely think that that is false. I think “16 and Pregnant” — the producers and editors did a really good job of putting our stories out there like they really are, and all the girls on “16 and Pregnant” have really done a good job about stepping up and taking care of their responsibilities, so the only reason I think that they would feel it was being glamorized is because the girls that are on the show have just stepped up and been responsible and that they make it look good because we’re all doing a good job. So I don’t think it glamorizes it at all.

Alexandra: Yeah, I know what you mean. Teen moms aren’t allowed to be happy or do a good job.

Maci: Exactly. We’re not allowed to do schoolwork or take care of our babies or anything like that, and since we all are trying to do our best, I think people are seeing a different side of the stereotype of a teen mom, and so then they’re thinking that the show is being glamorizing, and it’s not.

Alexandra: Yeah, before interviewing you I asked a few people what I should ask you, and they were mostly like, “Oh, I don’t know, but she’s so responsible,” — that’s what they kept saying, so, I mean the show really does show the reality of it, but some people are angry when teen moms don’t do a bad job.

Anyway, did you ever consider abortion or adoption?

Maci: No. Everyone asks me that, and when I was pregnant, neither one of those options crossed my mind. I just felt like — I mean adoption’s just not for me. I felt like I was strong enough and I had a good support system to keep my baby, and abortion just really isn’t for me. Yeah, that’s something that I never even thought about. No, I didn’t, not at all.

Alexandra: What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?

Maci: I don’t really know. I say this all the time, but I don’t like to have a plan — I just like to see how things happen and I just try my best at everything and, you know, whatever comes my way will come my way, and I’ll just make the decisions then. Hopefully, I mean I’m majoring in journalism, so hopefully I’ll be able to write a book, and I want to write it about being sixteen and pregnant and…

Alexandra: I’ll buy it.

Maci: Yeah — and that’s really it. I want to have a career that I enjoy and be a good mom.

Alexandra: How are you doing in school? Is it difficult to keep up with your schoolwork?

Maci: It’s very difficult. You’ll see that more throughout the season of “Teen Mom” cause it follows me in college and stuff, and, you know, in high school I made all As and Bs — I was always on top of my school work, and in college it’s so hard to make time to study and go to school full time and have a job. It’s definitely difficult, but as long as I stay in school and I’m passing my classes and stuff, I think I’ll be fine, and that’s just what I want to do. I mean I have other things to worry about and so as long as I’m keeping up with my schoolwork and passing my classes, then I think it’s fine. But it is definitely way harder for me to do my schoolwork than someone that doesn’t have a baby.

Alexandra: How have “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” affected your life? Do you feel like it’s been a good opportunity?

I definitely think it’s been a good opportunity. Whenever I was thinking about doing “16 and Pregnant”, I honestly just wanted to get my message across about how hard it is to be a teen mom and how you can protect yourself from becoming a parent when you’re a teenager. And I also wanted people to see that there are girls out there that take the responsibility on, and we don’t put our kids on our parents, and we do go to college, and we do finish high school, and we do take care of our babies. And I wanted girls to see that there are options and that it is possible because I saw so many girls in high school that dropped out when they had their baby and stuff, and I wanted them to know that there are options out there. There are tons of options for daycare and, you know, at my college there are tons of things for teen moms, or just moms period, to help you out, and I want people that do get pregnant to see that there are options out there for you to finish school and go to college and get a job and stuff.

Alexandra: I think it was awesome how you finished high school early instead of dropping out. You did the opposite of what a lot of teen moms do.

Yeah, I mean that was really awesome because if I hadn’t graduated early, it would’ve been really hard for me to figure out how I was gonna graduate, so I had to take some of my senior courses over the summer while I was pregnant, and then I finished my senior year when I got to deliver, so that was hard too, but it was much better than graduating on time. Graduating early was my only option to graduate, so I did it that way.

What would you tell other teen girls about how to handle their relationship with the baby’s father, from your experience with Ryan?

Maci: You know, every relationship is different, so it’s hard to give people advice if you don’t know the relationship, but the only thing I can say is that you have to be patient and you just have to be happy. The baby needs to be around a healthy environment and if it’s not healthy and you’re not happy, then your baby’s not gonna be happy. You have to do whatever you can do for yourself to be happy so that you can be a good mom, and if your relationship gets in the way of that then I think they need to move on, but if they can work it out, then they need to try their hardest to work it out also.

Alexandra: My last question — how’s Bentley doing?

We’re doing great.

Alexandra: Well, he’s a lucky baby.

With that, I’d exhausted my supply of questions; Maci wished me happy holidays and went off to continue being the supermom she is.

Cupcakes Solve Everything: Zoe’s Cupcake Cafe

21 Feb

Imagine you run a nonprofit that helps teen moms, but a few problems keep running through your mind:

  • How will the charity get a regular source of income?
  • How will it help teen moms become self-sufficient instead of just giving handouts?
  • How will it become well-known in the community?

Then the answer comes to you — cupcakes!

The idea is simple but brilliant: start a bakery/cafe that will hire teen mothers and donate its proceeds to your charity.

So that’s what Zoe’s Place of Bergen County, New Jersey did. Zoe’s Cupcake Cafe was born.

From the web site:

“Almost from the moment we defined our mission, we envisioned a small business that would provide sustainable funding for our programs, and employment opportunities for the girls. The Cafe is unique in that it is a place where business and mission overlap. The young women will receive more than just a paycheck.  With our help, and training by our pastry chefs, they will have the opportunity to have a successful work experience.”

Zoe’s Cupcake Cafe tackles an issue often brought up in politically charged conversations. Many feel that teen moms don’t deserve help because it will foster irresponsibility. The Cupcake Cafe counters that idea by providing help that involves meaningful work. It’s like that old saying about how if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, he eats forever. Likewise, if you give a teen mama a job with a great work environment, she will have the ability to put food on the table forever. Zoe’s Cupcake Cafe has proven that compassion and practicality can be one and the same.

Colleges Want Teen Moms

21 Feb

If you wonder if any colleges actively work to create positive environments for teen moms, the answer is yes. In a College Confidential forum post dated August 18, 2008, Sally Rubenstone, a professional college counselor, shared information about schools with strong support systems for teen moms.

“Lately I’ve received a growing number of queries from teenage moms who are looking for a four-year college program with on-campus housing for mother and child(ren). Although many colleges and universities offer special housing for students with children, my mail is usually from those seeking schools that provide other forms of support as well, such as year-round housing, free child care, parenting seminars, etc.

The option I recommend most often is the Women With Children Program at Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA, which offers not only housing (year-round!) but also ongoing support and special financial aid targeting this population. (Babies must be at least 20 months). See Wilson College: Women with Children Program

To read more of her recommendations, check out the rest of her post.

Being Treated Badly, Teen Mom? Oh well.

21 Feb

In a recent article for The Dallas Morning News, writer Jacquielynn Floyd covers a decision by the Forth Worth school board to bench a pregnant high school volleyball player. While there are a lot of issues at play here — legal liability, medical concern, and on and on — Ms. Floyd wasn’t really concerned with those. Instead, she just wants to tell the volleyball player to shut up and sit down:

This unmarried high school girl is about to become the parent of an utterly dependent human baby, a responsibility that challenges women twice her age – and we’re all fighting about how much playing time she got on the volleyball court?”

Yes, Jacquielynn. Teen mothers, and people with major issues of every stripe, are still allowed and encouraged to assert their rights.

Ms. Floyd then goes on to explain to us all — because we’ve never heard any of this before — that teen mothers have a hard road ahead of them. We shouldn’t be celebrating them — though I’m still not sure how wanting a teen mother to be allowed to participate in an extracurricular constitutes a celebration of teen motherhood.

“Thank God, I’m not alone out here on this raft of consternation.

In an October editorial titled “Let’s Stop the New Teenage Mom Craze,” Glamour magazine said it’s time to stop celebrating teen mommies like Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears, to quit acting like a live baby is a cute, trendy accessory.”

Why does Ms. Floyd think her views are unusual? She is preaching to the choir — the only choir. Saying you don’t want to support teen moms or hear their voices is the status quo, and nobody should pretend otherwise.

Babies Aren’t Life Enders

20 Feb

Contrary to popular views, having a baby doesn’t mean your life is over. It doesn’t mean your life is all about your kid. If your life is all about your kid, you’ll turn into one of those crazy annoying moms who has no life outside of the PTA and doesn’t know how to function without at least ten kisses and hugs every day from Little Sweetums. Nobody wants to become that.

You still have your life — now there’s just a wonderful child there to share it with you. Going for and achieving your goals can only make you a better, more interesting and wise mother.

The solution is — keep dreaming your dreams, but edit them. Don’t stop yourself from thinking them, but start including your child in them. You can be the has-it-all mom with a cell phone in one hand a baby on your hip. It will be difficult, but it’s not even remotely impossible.