New Program Changes the Life of a Teen Parent

Nayeli has a longer, more difficult day than most high school students. While they’re hitting the snooze button, Nayeli is busy making her best effort to get out of the house with two people: herself, and her eight month old daughter. It’s not a life she imagined for herself, but it’s a reality that a lot of teen girls have to live.

For Nayeli, she was just fifteen and a sophomore in high school. The news was a huge surprise, especially for her and her boyfriend’s mom, “It was very difficult telling my mom since I didn’t know how she was going to react. But I finally got the guts, I just went up to her and showed her the pregnancy stick. She got mad and starting crying. She didn’t talk to me for the rest of that day. But, on the other hand, when we told my boyfriend’s mom she got pissed and kicked him out. That’s when he moved in with me. She didn’t talk to him for about 3 months. When the baby was born she was there watching. But we can tell she doesn’t really like the baby. Whenever she comes over she never holds the baby or talks to her. She hasn’t even bought her anything. I mean, she doesn’t have, too but most grandparents buy their grandchildren toys or just anything simple.”

Initially, Nayeli was not prepared to have a child of her own. She had some help, “My boyfriend (her daughters dad) and my mom are the only ones who help me take care of the baby. My mom has been the most helpful though. Whenever I can’t figure out what’s wrong with the baby I can always take her to my mom and she’ll know what’s wrong as she has had experience taking care of babies before.”

One big worry for teen parents are finances; how they are going to afford essential needs for themselves and the baby. Fortunately, at Nayeli’s high school they offer a PACE program. “PACE program is a safe place where teen parents can go to get their education. They offer free daycare. They have free clothes/shoes for babies/parents. They always offer free monthly bus passes for those who don’t have a car. During Christmas time, they give out a bunch of presents for our babies and us too. They also gave me a bouncer, stroller, high chairs, toys and books for the baby. Pretty much any baby essentials we weren’t able to afford.” The process of getting into the PACE program is very simple. “There really isn’t an application process. All they gave us was a form our parents had to sign saying that it was fine for us to go there.”

Another worry for teen parents is graduating. Only 40 percent of teen mothers finish high school. Fewer than 2 percent finish college by age 30. For Nayeli, her biggest motivation is her daughter. “I want to finish school and have a good education so I can get a good job and provide for my daughter. I think PACE program will really help me to succeed for the rest of high school. It’s nice to have the support. It makes me feel like I’m not all on my own.”

Nayeli’s views on teen pregnancy and her advice to girls is, “I don’t have any regrets, I love my child and I would change anything for her. Maybe at times, I do wish I would have waited longer to have a baby since I’m not able to go out as much anymore. But yet again my baby has changed my life in so many ways I never knew how much I could love someone until I had her, now I can’t imagine my life without her. She’s so full of joy and laughter and she always makes my day. Teen pregnancy can be very difficult there can be complications during the birthing process and financially. I would recommend that teens should be careful when they’re having sex. Always use condoms or get on birth control. But for those who are pregnant, I recommend for them to go to PACE.”