Dear Dr. Levister: I’m 14 and pregnant. My mom says I’m not mature enough to be a parent. I say I’m not too young to love my child. L.E.
Dear L.E.: It’s noble to say your child will be loved but love alone won’t put food in your baby’s mouth nor will it pay for your child’s college education. Parenting is hard work that requires more than just love. It’s pathetic that our schools don’t require classes in what is probably the most important legacy you’ll leave behind. Becoming a parent means being an adult 24-7. Becoming physically mature means you’ll need to mature emotionally and mentally too.
A parent has many responsibilities. When it comes to child rearing, providing food, shelter, clothing and medical care are just the beginning of what is expected. A child needs mature guidance. Don’t expect to live out your own childhood while watching your child grow up without a rudder. Children need both of their parents’ love, attention and affection. Don’t depend on a family member(s) to raise your child. People who choose to become parents need to be prepared financially. You will need a steady income to provide for your child’s needs.
Child rearing begins long before you give birth. Giving birth means making healthy insightful choices. Get to know what’s happening inside your body physically and emotionally. As you prepare to become a parent here are some questions to ponder:
Are you prepared to permanently alter your teenage life style?
Identify sources of income beyond child support/government assistance.
What is your relationship with the child’s father? Do you plan to stay in school?
Are you receiving pre-natal care? Have you considered taking a parenting class?
Are you eating properly, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, using illegal drugs or using legal drugs to excess. Do you exercise regularly? Are you getting enough sleep?
Take some time to reflect on these questions. Your answers should give you some insight into what’s occurring in your body, some of what’s expected of you and whether you are ready to become a parent.