Teenage Mom

Teen Mom

Is This Doable? What Do I Need to Keep in Mind?

🙎‍♀️ Pregnant Teen: Am I too young for a baby? Take the Test

  • Most countries make little or no distinction between adolescent parents and adults. Sometimes the grandparents have guardianship of the baby.
  • You have several options on where to live with your baby to ensure that he or she receives the best care possible.
  • As an underage mother, you are usually entitled to financial assistance, childcare, and practical support.

Pregnant under 18 - Am I too young to have a baby? Your Self-Assessment

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Teen Mom

You probably had not planned on becoming a mom so early in life. Many thoughts are likely running through your head in this new and unfamiliar situation, centered on the question, "How can I make this work?"

  • Do I even have the right to assume full responsibility for this baby since I am still underage?
  • Where do I live with the baby? Do I have to move out from home?
  • What about my education?
  • How can I afford a baby?

This article aims to provide you with all the information and resources you will need as a teenage parent.

Custody Rights of Minor Parents International Overview

Your country's custody laws govern your parental responsibilities.

Click on your region to discover your custody rights as an underage parent!

United States of America:

  • Until you are 18, you decide for your baby, but your parents make decisions regarding your care.
  • Laws differ slightly from state to state. Twelve states give teen moms all custody rights. Most others allow teen mothers to decide where the baby lives, whether to place their child for adoption, how to raise their child and general healthcare decisions for their baby. Authorizing surgery often requires adult involvement.
  • Emancipation gives a teen adult status with full custody rights in all states. This can be achieved by making a petition at the local court or by marriage.

United Kingdom:

  • If you are under 18 and have a baby, you have the same legal rights and responsibilities towards the child as any other mother.

Ireland:

  • You are automatically the child's legal guardian from birth and have full custody of your child, even before you are 18.

Australia:

  • You have full custody of your child, even before you turn 18. You have full rights and responsibilities for your child unless you are not coping. In that situation, a case worker will step in to provide guidance to you.

Canada:

  • Underage parents have the same rights and responsibilities toward their children as adults.

South Africa:

  • Your legal guardian is also the baby's guardian until you turn 18. This is usually your mother.

New Zealand:

  • Coming Soon

Living with my Baby: What are my Options?

The considerations concerning your baby's care include where you and your baby will live. You have several options.

1. Living with Your Parents

Some young mothers prefer to live with their parents after the birth of their child. This is a definite possibility if you and your parents agree.

2. Living in Your Own Apartment — Alone or with the Baby's Father

If living with your parents is not an option, e.g., because there is not enough room for all of you, you can also choose to move out. Sometimes, renting your own place requires your guardian's signature. You may also need your parents' approval before moving in with your boyfriend.

3. Housing Arranged by Social Services

If you and your parents cannot agree on a suitable place for you to live, you can contact social services. Your government office can help you find the best option for you and your baby.

If your need is immediate, you may be sent to a youth shelter for the first week or two until a more permanent solution can be found.

Supported living can mean one of two things:

  1. Maternity group home — You would be housed with other young moms and a social worker in a group setting
  2. Independent living — You are given an apartment where a social worker comes to check on you and provide support.

Click on your region to find living options for underage parents near you!

United States of America:

  • Share the cost of living and babysitting with another single mom by using shareabode.
  • If you are in foster care, appeal to DSS or your guardian to be housed with your baby.
  • Good Counsel Homes

United Kingdom:

  • As a teen mom you would probably be too young to get privately rented or council housing, unless your parents sign for you. If you have housing needs contact your nearest Citizens Advice.
    • Shelter is a national homeless and housing charity
    • Family Lives will advise you on more places to find support in your area.

Ireland:

Australia:

South Africa:

New Zealand:

Canada:

What about School or Job Training?

Perhaps you are already thinking about the implications of this pregnancy on your everyday life — will you be able to graduate on time? You are probably already trying to figure out what to say to your teachers and friends at school.

Your guidance counselor can help you create a learning plan that includes taking time off for the baby. Bring a friend or family member if you would rather not have this meeting alone. Usually, pregnant teens can continue attending school and graduate.

⚠️ Your teacher or guidance counselor may not show any reaction at first, which can feel unnerving. School staff is trained to be neutral until they know how you have decided to proceed.

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Click on your region to find out schooling options for underage parents!

United States of America:

  • You have the right to remain in school.
  • Do a web search if you prefer to visit an alternative high school for pregnant teens in your area.
  • You also have the option of completing school online. A web search will reveal free online schools in your state.

United Kingdom:

Ireland:

  • Once you turn 16, you have no obligation to stay in school, but you have the right to complete your schooling, even while pregnant or as a young mother. You can go to school or take part in the Home Tuition Scheme.

Australia:

  • If you are pregnant or are parenting while you are still at school, you have the right to complete your schooling. You can stay at your local school or study at an external institution such as TAFE.

South Africa:

  • You have the right to remain in school.

New Zealand:

  • Find a list of teen parent schools, HERE.

Canada:

  • Once you turn 16, you have no obligation to stay in school, but you have the right to complete your schooling, even while pregnant or as a young mother.
  • You may find it easier to attend a boarding school for young mothers since your baby's needs are being met while you are in class.
  • Louise Dean School in Calgary
  • Terra Centre in Edmonton

Childcare While You Are at School

One of your greatest concerns probably has to do with childcare. This can be crucial if you want to continue your education. After all, your degree is still important, even after having a baby.

You may have several options, depending on where you live:

Grandparents' leave:

Some countries have regulated timeframes during which grandparents, i.e., his or your parents, can take time off work to care for their grandbaby:

Paternity Leave:

The baby's father may be able to take parental leave to take care of the baby.

Paid Childcare:

  • If you live in a maternity home or boarding school for mothers, your baby will be cared for by paid workers while you are in class.
  • You can also choose to entrust your child to a daycare center or babysitter while you are at school or work.

⚠️ Wondering how to pay for childcare? Click on your region in the chart below.

If you find it difficult to arrange childcare or if you would prefer to stay at home with the baby, online schooling may be a solution. This would make it possible for you to take classes while your baby sleeps.

Financial Support: What are we going to live on?

As a minor, you may still be in high school or job training and not have a stable income.

ℹ️ Refer to our Financial Support page to find out what moms of any age can apply for.

Click on your region to find out whether extra support is offered to teen moms in your area!

United States of America:

United Kingdom:

  • If your parents are claiming Child Tax Credit, your baby can be added to the claim.
  • Sure Start Maternity Grant of £500
  • Housing Benefit: If your parents are receiving housing benefit, your baby can be added to the claim.
  • Healthy Start provides vouchers for pregnant teens which can be used for milk, fruit, vegetables, and vitamins.
  • Education Maintanance Allowance for teen moms in school (NI, Scotland, Wales)
  • Bursary Fund for teen moms in school (England)
  • If you are not living with the child’s other parent, the Child Maintenance Service can arrange for them to pay maintenance.
  • Care to Learn weekly payments for teen moms taking a publicly funded course, such as sixth form.
  • The Childcare Grant is available to full-time students. To qualify, you must have a dependent child or children in registered or approved childcare. If you qualify, you can receive up to 85% of your childcare costs.

Ireland:

  • All benefits are listed on our Benefits Page.
  • Income Assessed Subsidy 
    • If you are in school and earning less than €26.000 per year – you will be entitled to up to 45 hours of subsidized childcare per week at €5.10 per hour. 

Australia:

South Africa:

  • There are no additional financial aid options for underage moms.

New Zealand:

Canada:

  • Youth Policy provides counseling, career advice and financial assistance above the standard rate.
  • You will be asked to sign a Statement of Non-Support when applying for financial aid from the government. They will seek support from your parent(s). You are still elligible for support if you refuse to sign.
  • Young Parent Program: help with childcare for under 25-year-olds while they complete high school — up to $1,500 per month to cover childcare.

Practical Support for Teen Moms

A baby brings a whole new set of challenges. Sometimes, family or the baby's father are there to master them with you. Unfortunately, this may not be the case in your situation, e.g., because your parents work full-time.

Click on your region to find out whether practical support is offered to teen moms in your area!

United States of America:

  • Young Lives is the teen mom branch of Young Life. They have group meetings and retreats in many locations.
  • Become part of an Embrace Grace group for single moms and have them throw you a baby shower.

United Kingdom:

  • Home Start group meetings and individualized support for young moms
  • Join a forum for young parents by Family Lives
  • Young Lives group and camp for parenting teens in Tayside, Scotland

Ireland:

Australia:

  • Contact your local community centre or local council to find out about support groups for young parents. These groups can provide emotional and practical support and are a place to learn parenting hacks.
  • Join or start a playgroup: call 1800 171 882

South Africa:

New Zealand:

Canada:

Where Do I Go from Here?

Your brain is probably on information overload after reading this article! There is no need to do everything at once. Take it one step at a time!

Perhaps you are having a hard time identifying whom to confide in. You may be nervous about how they would react to your news. You may also be anxious about your parents' reaction and wonder how to tell them.

Parents usually respond more positively than expected. Here are a few tips that might help you prepare for an upcoming conversation.

  • 👥 Get back-up: This could be a family friend, an aunt, or your godmother. Think of someone who is liked by your parents and has your back.
  • 🤔 Think about what you want to say and how you want to convey it. Notes can help you keep your train of thought and stick to what is essential to you.
  • 💚 Take the courage to share your thoughts and feelings. You can be frank that this is a difficult subject to broach, but it is important enough to take the risk.
  • 🤝 Ask your parents for support! Their life experience is an invaluable resource.
  • 👩‍🦰/👱‍♂️ You may find it easier to talk to one parent at a time.
  • 🕰 Give your parents time to take in the news and consider viable options for you.

We want to be there for you! profemina specializes in providing free counseling to pregnant women in a judgment-free setting. Our goal is to support you as you discover the path that works for you. Why not give it a try?

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