Being a younger parent: challenges and benefits
Regardless of age, all parents carry excitement and anxiety when it comes to starting a family. There might be many things playing on your mind, whether around being a young mum or being a young partner.
You’ll also find answers to some of the questions you might have and some supportive and non-judgemental advice.
Advice for young parents
If you’re feeling unprepared, most parents feel like this at one time or another, so you’re not alone.
There’s a lot of advice out there for young parents. From how tired you’ll feel to where to seek the help and support you need, our article featuring the experience of other mums and what they wish they’d known at the beginning of their pregnancy is a great place to start.
Keep in mind that when it comes to raising children, it’s not about older parents vs younger parents. It’s about supporting ALL parents to follow their instincts and take control of their own parenting journey.
There’s no right or wrong age to become a parent. Everyone’s parenting journey is different and unique to them.
But if you’re feeling anxious about having a child at a young age and a little overwhelmed when it comes to the challenges of being a young parent, we’re here to help.
Pregnancy risks for younger mums
Discovering you’re pregnant can be a shock at any age, and just as there are certain risks for older mums in pregnancy, having a baby at a young age comes with its own set of risks and considerations. These include a higher risk of1:
- Postpartum endometriosis.
- Low birth weight and pre-term delivery.
There’s a lot of support out there for young parents. Many NHS medical practices have dedicated midwives and resources to support younger mums, so if you’re worried about anything, don’t hesitate to contact your midwife for advice and support.
What are the challenges of being pregnant when you're young?
From worrying about how to tell your parents you’re pregnant to how you’ll cope financially, being a young parent comes with many questions and considerations.
I’m going to be a young single mum
Becoming a parent is a big deal, whatever your age. You might feel isolated because you’re the only one of your friends to have a baby or worried that family and friends will judge you for your choices.
It’s not uncommon for mums of all ages to feel as though they’re missing out on friendships, opportunities and their social lives. And as for being a single parent, that can happen at any time for anyone. You’re not on your own.
Why not talk to your GP, midwife or health visitor? They’ll have a wealth of resources to help you feel better about things and can point you in the direction of baby clubs and classes if that’s something that you’d like to explore. And if you need a friendly chat or some advice, you can contact our C&G baby club careline.
As all the focus tends to go on the mother (however old she may be) during pregnancy, partners can sometimes feel left out on the sidelines.
All too often, being a young partner comes with a lot of judgment instead of support. Keep in mind that it’s common to have worries and anxieties, and it’s essential to get the support you need - whether it’s around the practicalities of raising a baby or talking through any issues you might have. That way, you can focus on the benefits of being a younger parent and enjoying your new baby.
Questions you may have as a younger parent
How do I tell my parents and family that I’m pregnant?
For many young parents-to-be, how to tell parents and other family members that they’re having a baby is a daunting prospect.
There’s no right or wrong answer here, but here are a few things that might help you to feel more relaxed and allow the conversation to run smoothly:
- Make sure the person you’re telling has time to listen instead of when they’re distracted by something else.
- As with any pregnancy, there’s the potential for mixed feelings, heightened emotions and opinions. Listen calmly and take things on board, even if you disagree.
- Be open and honest. If you’re unsure about how you feel, say so. If you’re clear about how you’ll manage your pregnancy, provide your parents with the information they need to support you.
Keep in mind that this is your pregnancy and your experience. Give yourself time to work out how you’re feeling about things and what it is you want, free from the judgement of others. Ultimately, that’s all that matters right now
Am I less capable?
Being a younger parent doesn’t make you a less capable one. People of different ages have different things to bring to the table regarding parenting, and no one journey is the same.
If you’re concerned that you’ve got less life experience or won’t be a good enough parent, try not to let that worry you. Instead, think about the life lessons you and your tiny tot will learn together.
Every day, you’ll acquire new skills and adapt to new and exciting situations. Follow your instincts and shape your own future and that of your little one.
How will I cope financially?
If you’re a younger parent, you might be worried about how you’ll cope financially, particularly if you haven’t yet had the chance to choose your career path or establish yourself in work. Take some time to explore the financial help that might be available in terms of benefits to help you on your way. Contacting your local Citizens Advice Bureau is a good starting point.
Remember that your baby won’t be a baby forever. Just because you’re becoming a parent at a younger age doesn’t mean that the door to new opportunities is closed to you.
We’re not going to pretend that this isn’t a valid concern. But remember that all your baby cares about is how much you love them, and you can’t put a price on that.
As well as any challenges that come with being a young parent, there are many benefits.
You’ll learn a lot, and being closer to your child in age can often make it easier to relate to them. For many young parents, the opportunity to be a younger grandparent is also one of the benefits of being a younger parent.
To become a foster parent, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old, although most fostering services require you to have reached the age of 212.
Fostering is a real journey, and as a younger person, you may have a lot to offer a foster child when it comes to helping them manage their thoughts and feelings.
Keep in mind that being a foster carer comes with a lot of responsibility, and whilst you don’t need to own your own home, you’ll probably need a spare room. You’ll also need to attend meetings and participate in training, so before you commit, make sure you’ll have enough time to give to being a foster parent.
"A complete lifestyle shock that opened the door to a lot of judgement."
The Kabs Story
For the Kabs Family, having a baby at 17 led to assumptions and judgements about younger parents. Along the way, they’ve learned that their best is more than enough when it comes to raising their family.
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