“What hurt more than anything was the way people looked at me. I knew by their looks what they already thought of me, and I assumed they thought I was incapable of raising my son, so I would never ask questions when they arose.”
When you became a mom for the first time, perhaps you were surprised. Or maybe your babies were planned. Regardless, people were automatically excited for you, probably threw several showers for you and enjoyed (or at least put up with) your umpteenth e-mail or Facebook post full of ultrasound pictures or posts about how you are feeling. This is often NOT the case when a young single woman becomes a mom. She almost has to hide her excitement about her baby because she knows she might feel condemnation (you should have waited until you were older or married). She might feel too many people will tell her what to do (you are keeping the baby and not giving the baby up for adoption?). And while all moms feel a bit of trepidation about impending motherhood, for a teen mom this is magnified. Who will help me? Can I really take care of a baby? Should I try to stay in school or just drop out?
The introductory quote is from my friend, Christina O. An organized, loving, capable, happily married mom of 5 kids, who happened to start out her mothering journey as a teen mom. She is the co-leader of the brand new Lincoln Teen MOPs group that will be meeting at Christ’s Place Church on alternating Tuesdays. I cannot wait to see how God is going to use her testimony to make an impact on these unlikely moms.
As I was talking to her the other day I had to admit to her that I have probably not been very supportive of teen moms. Sometimes unintentionally, but I do know I can struggle with being judgmental. “Obviously I know more about being a good mom than …” as if being older makes me a better mom candidate. As if the fact that I am wearing a wedding ring automatically causes me to be a better parent. I am sure that maturity and having a stable home life does help in my mothering journey, but yet to discredit a mom just because she is young and/or single is really not fair. Before I was actually a mother, I think I may have extended more grace.
When I was in high school, one week in the summer many of my closest friends were away at cheer camp, and I was bored. So, I called up my friend’s grandma who was the director of the Lincoln Crisis Pregnancy Center and asked if she needed any volunteers. Why I did this is puzzling to me since I would turn bright red when anything was too personal, but obviously God was wanting to transform my weakness into a strength to be used for His glory. That first summer I answered the phone, then later on, she trained me as a counselor. God used these experiences to help me become more of an effective communicator, more sympathetic and indirectly used this as a tool to protect my own purity. I continued being directly involved with crisis pregnancy centers for many years – this was a time when I responded through empathetic eyes rather than critical ones. Since becoming a mother, I know that at times I respond with superiority, rather than humility, in relating to moms that are in different situations than I am. While I may not be as able to volunteer at a cpc as I once was, I do feel that there are new ways that God can use me to help unlikely moms.
Maybe you also are feeling the tug to get involved in something outside of your home. Besides the new teen MOPs group and the Lincoln Crisis Pregnancy Center, there is also a Teen Parents group that meets in Lincoln. A few years ago at First Free MOPs, Cara came and brought one of her teen moms along to talk to us about supporting teen parents (and we donated diapers )/ All three of these groups want to love women and their families to Christ, as well provide parenting and other support. Here are some great starting point ideas.
(Teen MOPs: TM; LCPC: Lincoln Crisis Pregnancy Center; Lincoln Teen Parents: LTP)
1) Donations: diapers, wipes, baby clothing, formula (all) The Teen MOPs facilitators are hoping to set up a “store” full of these items where the moms can spend vouchers that they earn from attending the meetings and doing other projects.
Clothing for toddlers, baby furniture items, current car seats, strollers, etc. ( LCPC, LTP)
2) Mentoring: weekly time spent with one mom – going for a walk, grabbing a coffee, going to the grocery store, running errands. Listening, helping and encouraging one specific teen parent. (LTP)
3) Meals: Before every meeting the Teen Parents have a meal together first. So, this would be a great group project – if you all made part of a meal together and delivered it to one of their Tuesday night meetings. (The teen mops group is also having meals together, but I am not sure if they will need help with this also).
4) Childcare: Grateful for our Moppets workers? You could become one yourself for an evening. Teen Parents needs help with childcare, so that the moms can actually get something out of the meetings! 🙂
5) Facilitators: If you enjoy walking alongside teens and encouraging them, maybe leading a Teen Parents Tuesday night small group is for you!
6) Transportation: Some of the Teen Parents moms need rides to/from the meetings as well as occasionally to appointments during the week.
7) Praying: While I know that this is really the most important thing on the list, I can easily dismiss this as not being very significant. But this is something that we can ALL do – sweet short snippets throughout our busy day.
Teen MOPs: As this is a new program, pray that the leadership will have energy and strength as the start of any ministry can be wearisome. Also pray that they will know the right focus and direction to have for the group. Pray that moms will come, that they will find support and most of all, that they will find Jesus.
Lincoln Crisis Pregnancy Center: They provide free ultrasounds – pray that they can direct women away from abortion and to adoption or parenting instead. From having volunteered there, I would say that the vast majority of the free pregnancy tests they provide are negative – pray that they can encourage women toward a lifestyle of abstinence. They often have parenting classes going on – pray that the moms (and dads) will attend and will grow in life skills.
Teen Parents: Pray for the start of a new year of programs – that the women will be faithful in coming to meetings. Pray that the right mentors and facilitators will be found, and that the needs that they have for different types of assistance. Pray for Cara, the coordinator, as she now has two kids of her own – pray that she will find the balance between her home life and ministry and pray that she will have the energy she needs to enjoy her responsibilities.
For more information …
Teen MOPs: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lincoln Crisis Pregnancy Center: 402.483.4247 | 4247 ‘O’ Street
Tonight TUESDAY, AUGUST 28th 7-8 PM at One80 Church (29th and O Street) is the informational meeting for those interesting in hear more about getting involved as a volunteer for Teen Parents Lincoln.
Teen Parents Director
P.S. Do you have a little girl? Do you have any baby clothes your daughter has outgrown? You could help fulfill an immediate need.