I am no stranger to the topic of “adolescent parenting” and it is a subject that has an intensely personal connection to my heart. I was a teen mother, starting at 15 years old, but still proceeded to overcome many great challenges - while effectively raising four children. Due to the experience of having been an adolescent parent, educating myself, establishing a successful career, and raising four caring, intelligent, responsible, productive, happy, and highly successful children; I both personally and professionally have a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of what is required to educate, mentor & empower young parents to raise children who will make positive change for themselves, their children and for future generations.
At 15, I was still in school full time, breastfeeding during my lunch break and working odd jobs after school. I waitressed and pumped gas with my baby resting in a crib just a few feet away. By 17 years old, I had given birth to my second child and started college as a single mother with two small children.
By the time I was 19, I gave birth to my 3rd child, while working full time and taking some college classes. Recognizing it was time for a change for myself and my three young children. I loaded them up in our old station wagon with rusted holes in the backseat and the door tied shut, moved to another city, and went back to college. For the next few years - working 2 or 3 jobs while attending college courses full time led to becoming a registered nurse. Establishing a career made it possible to better provide for my children and give them the stable life they deserved.
At 24, while still in school, I was married again, but I quickly realized that my husband was controlling and potentially physically abusive - so I ended it immediately for the sake of myself and my children, but not before becoming pregnant with my fourth child. I gave birth to my fourth child - a week before the second to last class of my final semester of college. For the last college semester, I brought my new baby to work, classes, and finals with me and fed him in class before finally graduating nursing school with honors.
After completing my RN nursing degree, I was able to progress consistently within my career and worked over 20 years in the critical care area, then as a nursing manager and transitioned into the field of healthcare administration. When my children were still young, we bought a home in one of the best school districts in the country.
All of my children grew up to be highly successful and happy adults. The message here is that circumstances do not have to predict outcomes - Decisions, hard work and perseverance do. I was able to accomplish all of this after becoming a young parent with very limited support or help, so I know personally that it is absolutely possible to succeed as a teen parent.
There is no easy path through life, and starting out as a parent, while one is still maturing in their teen years is exceptionally challenging; but with hard work and persistence, it is very possible to be successful and for the children to grow up healthy and to change future patterns.
Having experienced many barriers along the way - I recognized the benefits of and need for additional support to assist teen parents with their transition to adulthood, self – sufficiency and effective parenting.
As parents, regardless of whether we are teens or adults, we are raising the children who are the future leaders in our world – this is very important work.The understanding of the unique needs of this population and the barriers that exist inspired me to further research the issues related to adolescent pregnancy and parenting while pursuing a degree in Nonprofit Management. The realization came to me of the profound impact I might have with my knowledge, education , and first hand experience in the area of “teen parenting” led to the vision, development and establishment of Young Parents United as a 501c3 nonprofit organization to support teens parents to find success for themselves and their children while improving positive outcomes among teen parent families. It is my personal belief, and the foundation of this organization, that there simply is no greater responsibility or gift, than the most profound, inspired and significant role - of being a parent.
An organization like Young Parents United significantly impacts the lives of the families served and society at large. Young Parents United is designed to provide that network of support and services which can benefit adolescent parents and their children as they meet the many great challenges along the way toward achieving independence and becoming great parents. Young Parents United is a judgment-free organization that seeks to offer education, support and empowerment to young parents — so young parents today can have success and be inspired to provide for their families, enhance their relationships with their children, all while achieving self-sufficiency and success.