Dear Busybody on the Bus who has Something Mean to Say,
Yes. I am a “young” parent, but I do it better than many people twice my age.
No one asked for your opinion.
Because of people like you—people who hold back and put down young parents—I have to be a super hero just to get ahead.
Don’t assume that my life is over. It is just beginning! I will live up to my own expectations and define my own successes. Let me be great on my own.
Don’t pretend to be to be concerned. Don’t worry about me, or my child, or his dad. Don’t ask me personal questions. In the words of comedian Kevin Hart, “Mind your damn business.” This is my body and my choice.
My child will always be my #1 fan.
And my child is watching the way that you speak to me. Think about how this affects him/her. What you’re doing is disrespectful and I will use this moment to teach my child what not to do.
The Young Parents of STEPS 2016*
*At this year’s Summit for Teen Empowerment and Parenting Success (STEPS), which took place at Simmons College in Boston, 20 young parents participated in a workshop titled “‘Aren’t You Too Young to be a Parent?’: Dealing with Confrontational Strangers and the Myths of Teenage Pregnancy” facilitated by Jenna Vinson—a young parent who had her first child at 17 and is now a professor at UMass Lowell. Together, the participants shared stories of times when people they did not know interrupted them—in public transit areas, grocery stores, hospitals, and streets—to ask too-personal questions, make disparaging comments, or just stare in a judgmental way. Amidst the discussion of strangers also came stories of caseworkers, medical staff, school administrators, and even friends and family members who saw it as their role to say things to bring young parents down. After venting about these exhausting and infuriating moments, the participants collaboratively generated the open letter above.
You are so amazing, Erika! Thank you for sharing your story!