National Day to Empower Teen Parents
What? The National Day To Empower Teen Parents
When? October 11th, and an ongoing zine/booklet distribution project
Who? National Coalition to Empower Teen Parents members in roughly 100 American and Canadian cities are involved in this project.
How? Send your mailing address to [email protected]
for a Coalition Packet. In this packet you will find a flat-copy of the EMPOWER! Young Mother's Guide to Success zine/booklet, suggestions for places to distribute the zine, a guide for hosting a local Teen Mom Speak Out event in your own town, teen mom empowerment posters from The Campaign for Positive Sexuality and more. Coalition members will copy the zine and distribute it to as many places as possible, using the list for suggestions, and finding any relevant places in their own community (i.e. clinics, teen parent programs and high schools, WIC offices, etc.) Members will post the poster in as many high-traffic places as they can gain access to. They will organize a large or small scale Teen Mom Speak Out Event in your town (where teen moms will take the 'stage' and share their stories of pregnancy, oppression and empowerment) and will contact local media with the Mission Statement and ask them to cover the event.
Why? Teen Mothers are a marginalized group of citizens, forced into socially-mandated roles of failure. We believe that through the reinvention of the social role of "teen mom" we can help women find success and help their children achieve their full potential. We do not view teen pregnancy as a unilaterally negative experience, and we do not view the social treatment of teen mothers as acceptable or productive. In order to alleviate the problems associated with teen pregnancy, we must support teen mothers instead of vilifying them.
National Day to Empower Teen Parents Mission Statement
em·pow·er ( m-pou r)
tr.v. em·pow·ered, em·pow·er·ing, em·pow·ers
1. To invest with power, especially legal power or official authority.
The National Day to Empower Teen Parents is an effort to ensure that all parents, regardless of age, are given the tools needed to act with knowledge, authority, wisdom, and strength. We have created, promoted, and distributed a zine/booklet of information to help make sure that as many teen mothers as possible are reminded of their rights as women, citizens and parents. Teen parents are routinely vilified in our society, and their rights as parents are stripped away. "Babies having babies" we are told, over and over again, without any reasons given as to WHY teenagers are told that they are unilaterally unable to parent effectively. Our society has not been able to collectively realize that the more you tell any person or groups of people that they will fail, the more likely it is that they will do just that. Fail.
What we are trying to do is give a reminder to all teen parents that it is within THEIR CONTROL whether or not they become effective, successful and happy parents, and that their fate is not pre-determined by their age.
We are working to give teen mothers step-by-step guidance about how to overcome life's biggest hurdles for a teen parent; how to finish school, how to file for child support, how to breastfeed successfully, how to deal with your own parents, how to leave an abusive situation, how to advocate for yourself medically, how to find childcare, how to have a positive postpartum body image, and much more. The way that we are doing this is through our National Coaltion to Empower Teen Parents, which is working across the country to produce our EMPOWER zine/booklet. Teen moms have written step-by-step guides to helping moms overcome personal and social obstacles. We are working to distribute this information to as many cities and towns all over the country as we can, where coalition members will copy and distribute them to teen mom "hot spots" such as clinics, hospitals, teen parent high schools, malls, buses, etc.
Through this zine/booklet, and the formation of EMPOWER teen parent support groups all over the country, we are fighting to end discrimination against teen parents and form communities of support and encouragement for these marginalized mothers.
Teenage pregnancy is not a social "phenomenom" that will end some day, with enough shame tactics and birth control education. Teenagers always have and always will become parents, and instead of shaming the young adults who have taken this route, we must work to make sure that they are doing so in a supportive society, where all parents are awarded the same respect and resources and all children are supported and loved. If teen parents are expected to act as responsible, caring adults and parents, instead of reckless and irresponsible teenagers, then they must be preemptively viewed as such. They must be given the tools for personal empowerment and success. They must be allowed the right to make their own choices for their futures. If all parents were equally supported and respected, many of the problems that are typically associated with teen pregnancy would dissipate. We do not claim that teen parenting is an easy path to choose. Rather, we recognize the intense difficulty that comes with teen pregnancy and we are working to ease some of that burden for teen parents everywhere, so that they are freer to be the best possible parents.
We are not working to promote teen pregnancy. We are working to make sure that all young adults who have become parents are allowed the greatest possible chances for success.
It is our right as mothers, fathers, and citizens to have the power to make choices for ourselves and our children and to pave our own life courses. We will struggle to achieve this, and will not end our struggle and work until we have.
strug·gle (str g l) v. strug·gled, strug·gling, strug·gles
1. To be strenuously engaged with a problem, task, or undertaking
2. To make a strenuous effort; strive.
3. To progress with difficulty.