Senior Brittany Shelton is pictured with her mother (left), and Sal Partan is pictured with his mother (right). Both Brittany and Sal's mothers had them when they were teenagers, at the ages of 16 and 18, respectively.

Contributed by Brittany Shelton and Sal Partan

PART 2: Children of teen parents voice their opinions on teen pregnancy

March 30, 2016

How would you feel growing up alongside of a parent who is also coming of age?

Some students at the high school are the children of teen parents. According to many, having teen parents makes their lives different than the average high schooler because of the bond they have with their parent(s) and the maturity they had to develop at an early age.

Senior Michelle Rios’ mother had her when she was a teenager. Rios’ mother gave birth to Rios in her native country of Ecuador. They moved to the United States together when Rios was seven years old.

Rios said that she likes having mother who had her as a teen because her and her mother are so close in age that they can relate to each other better. Rios also said that her mother plays more than just one role in her life.

“It’s nice because she can remember with more clarity what it was like when she was a teenager,” Rios said. “It’s much easier to talk to her about stuff because I feel like she would understand. It’s more easy to approach because she either has it fresh in her head or it’s easier for her to understand, whereas, with my friend, she feels uncomfortable talking to her dad about stuff because her dad is very much older than her. She’s like, ‘I don’t know if he would understand that because he comes from such a different time.’ It’s fun because she’s like my sister, my friend, and my mom.”

Senior Sal Partan, whose mother was also pregnant with him as a teenager, said that he has a very strong relationship with his mother.

“I’m closer with my mom than I am with anybody else in my life,” Partan said. “It’s mostly because my dad wasn’t around as much so she was my primary caretaker. My mom believed, in the first three years that I was alive, in never letting me cry. Any time I would cry she would come and make sure I didn’t cry anymore. So, I think being with her all the time, I could talk to her and discuss anything with her.”

Although Rios was born just after her parents married, her father and mother had differing reactions to the news of the pregnancy. Rios’ father saw the pregnancy and birth of his daughter as a burden, while Rios’ mother tried to do what she could to accept her new fate.

Although Rios’ mother attempted to assume the role of being a mother, according to Rios, her mother didn’t completely comprehend what came along with pregnancy and marriage.

“I don’t think my mom fully understood what she was getting herself into,” Rios said. “My mom has often told me that the moment you realize that you’re a mother is not when you give birth, but when you want to protect your children, as much as you can, from things that you know will affect them negatively.”

Rios said that her grandmother cared for her for the first years of her life, as her mother recovered from a rough relationship with her then-husband.

Senior Brittany Shelton’s mother, who also went to the high school, had her when she was 16. Shelton said that although her mother was ready to take on the responsibility of being a teen momther and was supported by family members, students at the high school tormented her because of her pregnancy.

“, personally, was very happy to have me because she was very mature at the time,” Shelton said. “But she told me that a bunch of people bullied her about it. They called her a whore and flicked gum in her hair. Everybody was an ass to her, but she had support from her family and everybody wanted me so that’s the good part about it.”

According to Rios, Brookline residents are less apt to openly discuss the topic of teen pregnancy because of their high socioeconomic status. However, Rios said that she thinks this inhibits positive change.

“I think in Brookline, if you do have young moms, especially in the high school, it’s like, ‘Oh, they have a problem and we don’t want that problem,’” Rios said. “Oftentimes, I think in other communities it’s a lot more prominent. Girls drop out because they get pregnant. It’s such a prevalent problem in other areas but people in Brookline are like, ‘Oh, that’s not us. We don’t do that. We have smart kids here and they know everything so they don’t make mistakes like that,’ when, clearly, a lot of people at school are involved in stuff that they don’t know everything about.”

Rios said that she thinks this culture of silence plays a negative role in the community.

“There shouldn’t be that misconception, because even in the ‘best of places’ a lot of bad stuff goes on and because people don’t want to admit it, it get’s worse,” Rios said. “When something does come up, nobody talks about it. It’s all hush-hush even when a girl in my grade dropped out because of a pregnancy. It happened, whatever her choice was or whatever was going on in her life, it’s not something that you can necessarily hide.”

Partan said that he has recently heard negative comments said about the same student as Rios mentioned, who is no longer attending the high school because of her pregnancy.

“I think negative judgements about pregnant students are definitely expressed at the high school,” Partan said. “We had a student that left the high school and is currently pregnant but everybody immediately was like, ‘She’s this type of person. She’s that type of person. How could she ever do that?’ as if she planned to do it, or it was her fault, or she really tried to make a bad decision, or she doesn’t regret it.”

Partan said that he believes the lifestyles of teens change dramatically when they or their parents become pregnant or are expecting a child.

“If I had a kid at this point in my life, I think my entire dynamic would change,” Partan said. “Everything I am doing in school wouldn’t be for me anymore. It would be for that kid so that kid could have a brighter future than I did. I feel like things like hanging out or spending money just for fun kind of go out the window. At least in my opinion, when you have a kid you have to buckle down and do the best you can for them.”

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Read Part 1 of the feature by clicking here: https://thesagonline.com/19952/news/part-1-alumni-teen-mothers-share-their-experiences/

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