Normally, Reddit isn't necessarily the place to find nuanced portrayals of women's experiences, but the world is full of surprises. On Monday, young mothers who gave birth before age 16 shared what it was like to raise their child — and how their relationship with that child has developed over time. Spoiler alert: Their experiences don't much resemble the storylines found in an episode of Teen Mom.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of teenagers giving birth has been steadily falling in the last few years, declining by eight percent between 2014 and 2015. It's difficult to pin down any single factor contributing to the decline, but the CDC reports that it could be the result of two influences: sexually active teenagers using birth control more often, and teenagers simply having less sex. However, the United States still has a far higher rate of teenage pregnancy than other western nations, with significant disparities along geographic and socioeconomic lines.
But you already knew that, didn't you? While teen pregnancy is a common enough topic of conversation, the aftermath isn't often discussed. What happens after a teen mom gives birth — especially one who is younger than 15 years old? Teenage pregnancy isn't uncommon, but according to the Guttmacher Institute, it's far less common in girls under the age of 15. In a recent Ask Women thread, one user asked these women to share their stories. "Women who gave birth before age 16: How is your current relationship with that child?" the post asks.
As it turns out, not many women who had had children that young responded — but the children themselves did. You can check out the entire thread on Reddit, but the highlights are below.
1. A Relatable Mother
This user has a good point; the further you get from being a child, the harder it is to remember the perfect storm of hormones and misery that rules your life before adulthood. It's easy to see how a young mother may be more relatable to her child.
2. Not Interested
No contact? No problem. When multiple Reddit users chimed in to offer sympathy, the author of this comment made it clear that condolences aren't necessary. "Oh, no need for that! ... Yes, I was adopted before I was even born and my family is amazing, slightly loony but in a good way," she wrote. She doesn't need a birth mother to have a family.
3. High School Sweethearts
It isn't often that you hear about high school sweethearts staying together for decades, especially when they have children so young. Clearly, though, this relationship was meant to last.
4. Prospective Ivy League Student
It seems it doesn't matter what age you have them — the time still feels like it moves ridiculously fast.
5. Absolutely No Contact
Comments seem to be shaping into a trend: Ultra-young mothers tend to have little contact with their child, or they are extremely close.
6. A Baby At 12
Caring for a baby at 15 years old is hard to imagine for many people (myself included), and 12 years old is downright unfathomable.
7. Glad To Have Them
Two of her three children were unplanned, but it worked out in everyone's favor.
8. Intermittent Partying
Having a child so young requires far more responsibility than most 17-year-olds receive. It's no wonder this parent has fun when she can.
9. Grandparents To The Rescue
With young mothers, it's not uncommon for grandparents to take over and help raise the child. Hopefully, this relationship will repair itself over time.
10. Mother-Daughter BFFs
Connecting with a birth mother must be tricky, but friendship seems to be one of the best outcomes.
11. Basically "Gilmore Girls"
Humor, silly comedies, and mother-daughter date nights? This relationship sounds like it was ripped straight out of Stars Hollow. Here's hoping their lives are little less dramatic than an episode of Gilmore Girls.