More And More Of My Friends Are Having Babies...

Being a teen is very hard, but just imagine being a teen parent -- knowing that you have to work when before you had a choice, getting a pay check that's no longer only for you but for your baby too. You may be saying to yourself, "Well, no one told her to have a kid!" and that's the truth. But most of us make mistakes and getting pregnant as a teen is one that many girls make. What is more amazing is the price they have to pay when the mistake they made is as equal as other mistakes we all make every day.

I have noticed this because more and more of my friends are becoming mothers. This is a problem that affects not only the girls having babies but me as a friend of those girls.

I have a friend named Ana who decided to have her kid after her boyfriend told her that he was not the father. Before she made her decision she asked me for my advice. I told her, "It's really up to you, you have to decide whether you can handle it or not." I guess she took it the wrong way because she decided to have an abortion so she wouldn't have to deal with it. It seemed to me she took my advice as an excuse not to have to think about it. I don't like to make decisions for someone else, and I don't want to feel guilty for something that I did unintentionally. Even worse, I don't want my friends getting used to having other people solve their problems. It eats away at self confidence which is a problem all of the girls my age are having.

I have another friend who I will call Estela. She had her baby when she was 16 and now she's 18. I remember the first time she found out that she was pregnant. She told me first and was scared to tell her parents. The first thing I told her was to make sure that her parents knew but she said no because she was too scared. I couldn't convince her to change her mind. She ended up hiding her whole pregnancy from her parents and had difficulties during child birth because she hadn't gone to the doctor regularly. Her problem wasn't that she got pregnant but that she couldn't make clear decisions.

If you can't think straight when a big decision like this hits, how can you be a successful parent?

After my friends had babies our relationships changed dramatically. Before my friend Maria had her baby, we used to go out and talk about stupid stuff, like what guys we liked. After the birth of her child we couldn't go out as often. And suddenly there was less to talk about and not much stuff in common. My state of mind is in a whole different place that she no longer lives in. I can't give her advice because I haven't lived through her experiences. Her conversation is more serious than I can relate to. It's like a 14 year old carrying on a conversation about relationships with a 45 year old woman.

Just walking down the streets with my five month old baby niece, I attract looks that no 23-year-old mother with a five month old baby would get. Often people have asked if it is my baby and I know it's not out of curiosity but so that later they can make ignorant remarks about me. When I was 16 I carried my two month old baby sister into the elevator and this woman asked, "Is that your baby?" I answered, "It's my sister." She said, "You don't have to lie, I know you young girls are always wanting to trap your boyfriends." Not that it hurts, but I know that in the long run the reputation my generation of young Latinas is acquiring does affect me and other girls.

It scares me to know that more and more of my friends are carrying big responsibilities at a young age when they should be worried about learning how to handle responsibilities. It's like cooking without knowing how to. The food will do no good to your stomach if it's rotten inside.

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