When I became a single teen mom at 17, I knew that my life would never be the same and that I could kiss my normal teenaged and adult years goodbye. I was scared and embarrassed, and I didn’t want to finish high school. My life is over, I thought, because I had become the one thing I swore I wouldn’t become.
I didn’t even like kids, and now I was going to be a mom at a really young age. But I was not alone: In 2020, 171,674 children in the United States were born to mothers aged 15 to 19, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
No more waking up each day and thinking about myself and my needs first. No going out of state for college. Most important, there was no way to support myself and my child. I was ashamed and full of self-pity.
I managed to obtain a summer internship at a credit information company. It started just two months after I found out about my situation. It paid $13 per hour, and I learned a lot that summer in between numerous trips to the restroom to try to mask my morning sickness.
I didn’t want to let anyone down by mentioning I was pregnant at the time. But in reality, I was embarrassed.
Choosing To Not Be Another Single Teen Mom Statistic
Teen moms and single mothers don’t have the best reputation for being successful. The numbers are stacked against them, with only 50 percent of teen mothers graduating high school compared to the 90 percent of teens who aren’t mothers that graduate, reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What these “facts” tell me and every other single teen mother is that we are at a huge disadvantage of ever being successful in life.
After my summer internship, my mom and sister found an alternative high school for me to attend. It was an extension of the high school in my district. This way, I could still earn the rest of my credits, but I would be attending school on a flexible schedule with other pregnant girls.
My parents never had a lot of money. My mom had my older sister when she was 18. But my mom always stressed the importance of obtaining a good education to my siblings and me.
As I sat in class at my alternative school, I had an epiphany. I realized I didn’t want to be one of those statistics and that I actually had a choice. That day, I told myself that my life was not over and, in fact, it had just begun.
I committed to working hard to get out of self-pity and obtain the life I really wanted and not the life I was predicted to have.
Taking Advantage of Resources for Single Teen Moms
After I graduated from high school a semester early, I applied for financial aid. I attended a local college and went on welfare to help support myself and my son. Honestly, I didn’t care what people thought about me. My plan was to rely on public assistance while I could to get through college and find better job prospects as a single teen mom.
Welfare and food stamps helped me survive while I focused on my education and established my writing career.
Instead of feeling pity for myself for being on public assistance, I changed my mindset to take advantage of this opportunity.
“When you face a pivotal financial moment, your mindset may be the difference between digging yourself in a giant hole or recovering,” states Erin Papworth CEO and co-founder of navitmoney.com.
I took advantage of campus resources like childcare, internships, workshops, and seminars. I flew through my courses, even getting the opportunity to study abroad in Europe for one summer.
My ability to have these opportunities came from my resilience and not letting the fact that I was on welfare set me back. “Invest in your mindset,” adds Papworth. “When you become intentional with your money, you can rebound better with the inevitable setback.”
Ways to Save Money On Childcare as a Single Teen Mom
Though I worked hard in school to provide for myself and my child, none of this would have been possible without childcare.
Being a teen mom doesn’t always allow you the option to stay home to care for your child. Paying for childcare is typically thought of as an expensive luxury but it doesn’t need to be if you explore your options.
I was lucky enough to have childcare resources on my college campus as a single teen mom. There are other similar nonprofit options such as the YMCA, local churches, and community centers. These facilities are given government and private grants that allow these centers to cater to those who cannot afford childcare.
Many states also offer financial assistance programs to offset the costs of childcare.
Each state offers a childcare subsidiary for low-income families. These programs can help cover the cost of childcare so the parents can continue working or going to school.
Some states offer pre-school and pre-kindergarten programs for children between 3 and 5. These programs can be full- or part-time and are offered to eligible families at little to no cost.
Whatever childcare road you choose, it’s important to know that there are options available at little to no cost so you can continue to provide for yourself and your family.
The Bottom Line
I graduated from college in four years, the same as most of my peers. Just a few years ago, I was living in a low-income apartment telling myself, “If I could just earn at least $1,000 per month, everything would be alright and I could meet my expenses.”
I’m proud to say that I now earn at least five times that amount per month, and I do it all through my passion for writing.
I no longer need public assistance. But I wouldn’t have ever gotten to that point if I had stayed in my self-pity mindset. If you are a single teen mom, there are opportunities out there to earn more money if you’re determined to put in the work and the effort. No matter who you are, you need to write your own story to rise above the statistics.