Teenagers, broken dreams and new life

Teenagers, broken dreams and new life

Erna Rheeder

I feel new life; it’s dead in me
It’s me alone; instead of “we”
We had much fun, but now, it’s gone
I want to talk, but there is none.

Oh, when HE heard, he walked away
The fun is gone; why should he stay?
Mom shouted out: “You’re on your own!”
It’s like they all picked up a stone!

No one talked to me before
How could I know what is in store?
Who will I ask what it’s about?
How…will they get the baby out?

There’s so much more I need to know
But every answer is a blow.
The how and what of Baby and me
But somehow no-one seems to see…!

Every year 500 000 to a million babies are born of teenagers. Mothers sigh. Nurses get angry. Teachers sneer and young fathers run away. The result? Neglected babies, school drop outs, poverty, suicide, even worse parent-teenager relationships than before. It doesn’t help, does it?
Something has to be done. Our babies suffer most!

All our sighs, anger, humiliating looks, words and judgment only make things worse. We need to ask: “What do we do now?” This is a discussion parents should have with their teenage parents-to-be.

The best thing for a teenage parent in this challenging process, is the support of his/her parents. Oh yes, parents have their own pain and struggle. This we need to unload with good friends or a counsellor who can listen and guide us into the best direction for the child’s sake. When we as parents are with our teen parent-to-be, we need to talk about the pregnancy, the baby’s development and care, our teen’s feelings and plans and the importance of school. Visits to the clinic can be much more meaningful with Mom joining her pregnant teenager.

Try to understand the challenges of going to school when teachers are often not supportive, but judgmental. Teenagers often drop out of school, because it became so difficult to face their peers and teachers whom they feel team up against them. Some girls try to commit suicide, because of the hopelessness of their lonely situation. Mom’s support can make the difference.

Nurses at clinics are key people to ensure that the unborn baby gets proper nutrition as well as a mother who understands how to take care of her baby. Guide the young parent and inform her well. Allow the young father to also get the much needed information. It will encourage him to be involved, which will benefit the baby. His involvement can make a world of difference to our future generation.

Our schools and churches need to become the supportive and guiding bodies for young parents – rather than judging them and making them feel small and useless. A young mother feeling worthless finds it very hard to raise a child with good self-confidence.

In 2017 we presented the Rebuilding Dreams programme to 900 teenage mothers and fathers in Gauteng. Pregnancy at a young age often means broken dreams of fun and joy, a “white” marriage, education or a good job. Some teenagers wanted to commit suicide, others thought of abortion. Teenagers found it difficult to talk to their parents and couldn’t face going back to school. We guided them to face their broken dreams, deal with it and start new – step by step. They learnt how to be involved fathers and mothers.

Many found joy, rebuilt relationships and made new plans. They found support in each other and in their group leaders, who became their mentors. They discovered teenage pregnancy is a sad, broken dream, but not the end of their lives. With the support of the community, especially their parents, they could rebuild their dreams.

Imagine a country where young people dream again, in spite of living on in brokenness!

I feel new life; it’s growing strong
This little one and I belong
I dream again; I even dare…!
For I have family and friends who care!

This article was originally published in the Autumn edition of My Child and I, 2018.

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PO BOX 40526, Arcadia, 0007
012 325 3920
erheeder@savf.co.za
084 383 9417

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