Teenage parenthood is a topic that can raise controversy at almost any dinner table. Between the stereotypes, statistics, assumptions and shame the realities of being a teenage parent can get lost in the noise. We rarely ever get a peek into the lives of teen parents without constant negative subtext. So let’s strip away the subtext and speak candidly on this topic while centering the voices of teen parents. Video Creator, Quincy Thompson (They/Them) was kind enough to answer some questions about their own journey as a teen parent.
As you can imagine finding out you’re going to be a parent at a young age can be overwhelming for most teens. But some of the first fears teen parents have is their community's reaction. Will they support or reject me? This fear can be so overwhelming that many teens who suspect they may be pregnant will take the test in complete secrecy, without even telling a friend. A junior in high school, Quincy was only 16 years old when they discovered they were going to be a parent. “I was terrified,” they said. “I was most scared of being punished by my parents and having to abandon my plans for my future. I found out I was pregnant alone...”
Families of teen parents often let their fears cloud their judgement and can be a major source of pain and anxiety for the expectant parent instead of a support system. Pregnancy is such a vulnerable time in a person’s life and the support of family, friends and community is crucial. Quincy talks about the difference in their peers and family’s reaction to their pregnancy. “The best reaction was from all of my friends. They congratulated me and were so supportive, excited for me. The worst was from my family. My dad didn’t talk to me my entire pregnancy. It was very hurtful.”
Teen parenthood gets a reputation for ruining lives but more often than not it’s the crushing rejection of family that will ruin a teen’s future before parenthood. When a person tells you they are pregnant it’s more important to be conscious of their needs in that moment than fearful of a hypothetical future. “I think the best advice on how to react to someone’s pregnancy is to show genuine excitement and offer up any support you can,” Quincy tells CCBF. “Pregnancy can be such an overwhelming time in a person’s life and letting them know you care for them and have their back is so important.”
It’s critical for an expectant parent to feel comfortable, safe and stress free during pregnancy. This is even more important for teen pregnancy which can come with some scary statistics regarding the health of parent and child. Quincy spoke on their first week postpartum completely alone. “I was admitted into the hospital with preeclampsia and my baby was sent to the NICU. I was completely on my own as a 17 year old with a sick baby. I just felt so overwhelmed, scared, and lonely. A lot of my friends were on the cheer team with me and they remained my friends through my pregnancy. After I had my baby, that’s when I noticed a huge shift in my social circles. I didn’t have as many friends after my pregnancy.”
Despite the ups and downs of their journey through teen parenthood Quincy comments on their favorite parts of parenthood and the lessons she learned on the way. “My favorite part about being a parent is the opportunity our children give us to learn and grow into better people. Creating magical childhoods for my children has allowed me to heal from my own childhood. I love waking up everyday to create warmth for my kids and I cherish every opportunity to nurture them.
I always held the assumption that people who ended up pregnant in their teen years were irresponsible. But becoming pregnant myself, I realized it could have been any one of my peers in my shoes. Everyone in my class often expressed their shock that I ended up pregnant because it didn’t seem like something that’d happen to someone like me. I think that’s why sexual and reproductive education is so important during adolescence, as well as access to reproductive medical care.
Becoming a teen parent myself also made me feel more compassion for my own mother, who was only 14 when she became pregnant with me. She ended up giving us up for adoption and I held so much anger towards her for so many years. But going through that myself, I understand the overwhelming fear she must’ve felt. With much less support than I ever had.”
When Quincy looks back on all the trials they went through they “...wish 17 year old, teen mom Quincy could have seen that all their sacrifice, hardships, and heartbreak would lead them to their wildest dreams.” A few years later and two beautiful children later Quincy is now a video creator at Choux Pastry Home in Portland, Oregon sharing their adorable cottage-core family and lifestyle. “I don’t know how I got here, and it has certainly not been without major curveballs, but I don’t dare question my blessings.”
Quincy Thompson is a beacon of perseverance but it’s important to note that parenthood is not meant to be a test of strength. It’s something a person should be guided through not left to figure out. Being a teenager when they had their first child isn’t what made parenthood hard for Quincy so much as the stigma and reactions of those around them that made it hard. So if you or someone you know is an expectant teen parent, before you list the statistics, flaws, shame and disappointment. Remember to tell them what every new parent deserves to hear “Congratulations, I wish you and your baby nothing but the best.”