Teen parents often have a tough road ahead as they anticipate the arrival of a little one. From challenges to completing a high school education to staying connected with friends who can’t relate to the challenges of parenting, teen parents often battle depression and loneliness.
At YWCA St. Joseph, the Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies program combats these common challenges by offering support and camaraderie to teen parents in Buchanan County. The program invites up to 85 teen mothers and their babies to participate in support groups and be matched with a mentor that provides support and encouragement.
The program also offers monthly meal preparation and nutrition classes, fitness classes, and mentoring support. Home visits and playgroups occur quarterly, offering participants additional opportunities for connecting with other teen parents and adults who support them.
The teen parents involved in the program can share the special challenges as well as the sweet moments of parenting in a group setting, where they can feel understood. They may also recognize that their situation is not altogether unique, and they are not alone. Teen parents are facing challenges that their childless peers may not encounter, but it’s always a comfort to hear a “me too” and find out that others have the same difficulties.
In 2017, Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies offered support in the following forms:
- Services were provided to 47 teens and 45 children
- Paired 44% of teens with an adult mentor
- 85% of enrolled teens remained in school
- 100% of children were up-to-date on their vaccinations
If you’re looking for a way to get involved, consider becoming a mentor to a teen parent. Whether you’re already a parent, an empty nester or have never had children, you are equipped to offer a kind word of encouragement to a new parent. Visit our website for more information about how to become a mentor, or if you know a teen parent that might benefit from this program please share about this opportunity.
Help Teen Parents by Supporting Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies Program
Teen parents face difficulties and challenges that may not be experienced by older parents. It’s important to come alongside teen parents by offering practical support to help them as they begin this new journey. Some important forms of support include:
- Education: Teen parents need encouragement to stay in school and help in connecting with other teen parents that have a goal of finishing their high school education. Teen parents need additional education, in the form of childbirth classes before delivery, and parenting classes following the arrival of the child. They also benefit from financial education, job skills training and nutrition and cooking classes.
- Mentoring: An experienced mom or dad can offer first-hand knowledge of the best way to tell when it’s time to call the pediatrician, how to swaddle a newborn and the ideal age for potty training. A mentor can be a powerful way to help teen parents cope with daily challenges.
- Support and Camaraderie: It’s important for teen parents to connect with others in a similar situation and who have the same goals of raising healthy, thriving children. Social and support groups can help teen parents form lasting bonds.
The YWCA Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies program seeks to offer these very benefits to teen parents in the area. The program provides a way for teen parents to avoid the loneliness and loss of friendships that often occurs as they transition into parenthood while offering valuable educational opportunities.
To become a part of the program, teen parents simply fill out an application form. Once accepted into Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies, participants receive a regular newsletter informing them about upcoming events. The support group meets on the second Tuesday of each month. Speakers cover a wide variety of topics important to new parents, including healthy meal preparation, fitness for parents and general nutrition.
In addition, on the last Thursday of the month, the group holds a Monthly Mentor Mixer, providing an opportunity for participants and their mentors to make connections and talk. The mentors offer encouragement by being positive, present, and having a conversation once a week with their teen.
The YWCA St. Joseph Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies program provides a practical way to help teen parents as they move into a new phase of life that otherwise might be isolated and lonely. Learn more about Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies by visiting the program page on the YWCA St. Joseph website.
How and Why Mentoring Parenting Teens Works
Pregnancy among teens brings its own unique set of challenges and circumstances, affecting all levels of the community. According to DoSomething.Org, nearly one-third of teenage girls will become pregnant and 60 percent will give birth. Many of those girls will raise their child without help from the father. That leaves many young ladies facing single parenting before turning 20. Mentoring parenting teens can help to bridge the gap between what babies need and what a teenage mother is prepared to give.
For many girls, having a baby during high school can mean a permanent interruption in their education. Statistically, less than half of teenage mothers earn a high school diploma and just over one percent finish college. Raising children is demanding for all mothers, but teenage moms without a partner face additional challenges. Providing for their child is one of those challenges. So, too, is the lack of a healthy support network. Mentoring parenting teens aims to encourage and enable young parents to complete their education and, at the same time, offers skill development along with positive social support.
Skills and Support
JUMP is our YWCA program designed for mentoring parenting teens. The acronym stands for Journey to Unite Mentors and Parents and is open to pregnant teenagers or teens raising a child under the age of three. All JUMP mentors are volunteers who receive training in how to be supportive. The program offers monthly meetings for learning key parenting skills, playgroup opportunities, home visits and more. Incentives such as diapers, baby bottles and baby wipes encourage attendance at meetings. With JUMP young moms are surrounded by a caring group of adults who encourage them to stay in school. They also find strength through meeting other young girls in similar circumstances who are working to be the best moms they can be for their child.
The Impact of JUMP in our Community
The YWCA JUMP program is unique in the area and worked to help 70 young people and 75 children in 2015 alone. The JUMP program represents a cooperative effort with Mosaic Life Care and the St. Joseph Youth Alliance. These agencies work hand in hand with the YWCA to ensure that babies of teen mothers stay properly immunized, healthy and well-supported. Mothers and babies receive benefits through JUMP. Last year the program experienced a marked increase in the number of teen moms willing to be paired with a caring adult mentor.
Mentoring parenting teens works because it meets identifiable needs. Young moms need encouragement that they can be good parents and finish their education. Children need parents who understand basic parenting skills and who can create positive homes. If you are a pregnant teen or know someone who is, check out JUMP. If you are a caring adult who would like to make a genuine difference in the lives of others, contact us today and find out about becoming a trained mentor.