Dear young Queen,
A few days ago, a friend of mine asked why aren’t we, as older women, sharing our wisdom with younger girls. She asked why aren’t we having for real, honest conversations with our girls about sex because teen pregnancy seems to be all the rage right now. I’m not really sure why but teen parenting has become a trend or why it’s accepted and celebrated as an accomplishment in our young girls.
But I’m here to tell you that you are not ready to be a parent. If no one has told you yet, you have your whole life to be grown. Don’t be so quick to run into adulthood that you make the choice to have a baby before you are mentally, emotionally or financially ready. Having a child young forces you into the role of an adult long before you are mentally prepared to be an adult.
Social media has fooled so many of you into believing parenting is easy. You see the elaborate baby showers. Maternity shoots. Posts that talk about the love and motivation their child has brought into their lives. The adorable clothes. The “mini me”, the “my son is bae”, the “my daughter is my best friend,” captions that depict parenting as a fun past time.
I need you to understand that you are not ready to be a parent.
I am 38 years old and I had my first child when I was 18. My kids are now 19, 14, and 9. I am not a parenting expert by any means; I am just a woman that has had children and I need you to know that you are not ready to be a parent. I wasn’t ready at 18 and I am still trying to figure it out 20 years later. Even if you are a married adult, parenting can be unchartered territory. Imagine how difficult parenting will be for someone your age!
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m almost grown, I have a job, I go to school, my baby daddy is gonna help me. You’re thinking my mama is gonna spoil her grandbaby. All my friends will be godmothers. My child isn’t going to have to struggle because I’m gonna go hard for her.
That’s all well and good in theory but I’m here to tell you that is not the way it’s going to go in real life.
Understand that when you have a child, that child is the responsibility of you and the child’s father (and you have to be careful of who you chose to have kids with but that’s another post for another day). Not your mama, sister, auntie, cousin or best friend but you and your child’s father have the responsibility of raising a person. A person. Let that sink in. The child you will have will grow up to be a whole person…a friend, a boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, and/or employee and I’ve learned that raising a person is difficult.
My oldest son started college in August of last year. He’s a good kid and I haven’t had any major issues with him but once he left home, I realize there was A LOT I didn’t teach him. I made the mistake of assuming he knew more stuff than he did. It’s been a learning experience for both of us and my other two will be better prepared for leaving home.
I’m not sharing this with you to deter you from ever having kids. Parenting can be rewarding (Jade tells me thank you for EVERYTHING I do for her!) but parenting is also difficult. And truthfully, when you’re young, you don’t really consider how difficult parenting will be. Because young parents are often social media parents. They want you to see the adorable moments and they rarely show you the sleepless nights, the cost of formula, sitting at home while all your friends are out or how much boo boo, throw up, or snot can come out of a baby.
You’re not ready to be a parent because there are things that will happen to your kids that will test you as a parent. There are some things that our kids will experience that we as adults know they will get over but at the moment, it’s the most important thing to them. Things like best friends getting mad, not making the team, losing the championship game, getting injured and not being able to play their senior year, or breaking a cell phone. Some of that can be handled with conversation, shopping and ice cream.
But what about the major stuff? Like the loss of a parent/grandparent/sibling? Or your child being diagnosed with cancer? Or your child asking you why their father doesn’t come around? Or your child being a victim of sexual abuse? Or your child having thoughts of suicide? Or your child going to jail? Are you prepared for that?
I’m here to tell you that you are not.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that if you give your child everything they need, physically, mentally, and emotionally, they won’t ever experience any hurt. As an adult, I am much more equipped to help my children navigate through their life. And at your age, you are not ready to do that. How do I know that? Because when I had my first child at 18, I was trying to figure out my own life and I wasn’t really considering the little baby I was hold was going to grow up at some point and be a man.
Believe me when I tell you that having kids isn’t fun. It isn’t fodder for a social media posts. It isn’t a way to keep your boyfriend (again, you have to be careful with who you have children with). Believe me when I tell you that you need time to grow, enjoy life and smash your goals before becoming a parent. Believe me when I tell you that having children at a young age is not something you HAVE to do. Talk to your mama, your grandma, your auntie…someone about birth control (And mamas, we can preach celibacy but be realistic…you used to be a teenage girl, too. But that’s another post for another day).
You’ve seen teenage parents go to work, go to school, and sacrifice. You’ve seen them reach their goals. You’ve seen them be great. Yes, it can be done. I did it and so many women before me have done it as well. The problem is, I didn’t have to do it that way. That stress of HAVING to go to work because I’m a parent and to go to college while being a parent was a stress I didn’t have to endure. That was a choice I didn’t have to make for myself. I am here to tell you that your life can be and will be easier without adding a child to the mix.
Aside the cost of parenting (financially, emotionally, mentally), parenting entails sacrifice. It’s not always easy to give up what you want/need for the needs your child. Parenting means that even when you don’t feel your best, you have the responsibility of taking care of your child. Parenting means you have to make decisions that will not only further you but your children as well. Parenting means that YOU have to be the best YOU before you try to be anything to anyone else.
You have your whole life to become a parent. Right now, you are not ready. It’s not even something you should be considering. There is no rush. Give it a few years (like 10 or so). Establish yourself. Be selfish and live your life for you. At your age, your only focus should be on you and securing your future. Having fun with your friends. Playing with Snapchat filters. Hanging out at football games. Begging your daddy for sew-in money. Having a child should be the last thing on your mind. Just enjoy being young because when adulthood comes, you will wish for these simple days.