Before our high school graduations, we were juggling the internal and external difficulties of being teens while flourishing into devoted young mothers raising babies. It was incredibly hard to be a teen and harder once adding the role of loving caregiver, but we also knew it was rewarding. We imagined how difficult it would be to give birth and raise a child, like any parent, but were dedicated to our mamahood.
Yet our age kept us from having the freedom to openly share our mamahood with the world. The shame we felt from our families, our friends, healthcare providers, school staff, our community, and our peers deeply affected our internal sense of purpose in the world. We were young women working to transition into adulthood while our environment refused to see us as anything more than "children having children." Our passion and dedication to grow and be better mothers, better women, and better people were not the goals our society would accept.
The barriers that prevented us from defining and achieving our own successes often came from these negative environments and from society's constant stigmatization of what my family was suppose to look like and how our dreams didn't fit into the cultural norm. Our roles as mamas were disrespected.
|Marylouise Kuti-Schubert and her family|
All mamas know that raising a child can be hard at times and raising a child as a teen can sometimes feel impossible. From needing to use a WIC card at the grocery store only to face rude stares or having to leave school early to pick up your child only to be greeted by glares of disappointment that it took you so long to arrive, there was always something. There is this high expectation that we need to do it all alone, yet we are held to these low expectations of what we're actually capable of doing. How do we navigate through this type of community?
You can define and determine your community.
A community can consist of organizations who provide assistance and support to young families, or respectful family members, or involved co-parents and significant others, or supportive school staff, or other young mamas who are both weaving the rope and climbing it too. Every person around you has the ability to influence the way you feel supported so we did just that using social media to connect with other mamas via #NoTeenShame.
|Natasha Vianna and her daughter|
And through our experiences, we know there are times when the support we needed to keep pushing only came from one person or one organization, but this patronage helped us so much. Our motivation to be good parents could be fully ignited when we have that boost of confidence from our community and ourselves.
So we honor #MamasDay by sharing our support with all the mamas who are struggling and thriving together.
#NoTeenShame is a movement led by 7 young mothers, Natasha Vianna, Gloria Malone, Lisette Orellana, Marylouise Kuti-Schubert, Jasmin Colon, Christina Martinez, and Consuela Greene, to improve strategic messaging campaigns and conversation around young parenting to a non-stigmatizing and non-shaming approach, while highlighting the importance of comprehensive sex ed.