Many teenage mothers are ill-equipped to raise children by themselves. A teenager rarely plans on becoming a parent while she is so young, but many girls become pregnant before they finish high school. The aid of family and friends is important to these new parents, but teen mothers often need additional help from others. Support groups for teenage moms help young women learn to care for their children and how to cope with their role in life.
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Many communities provide support groups for teenage mothers. Call your local social services agency for information on groups in your area. Also, contact community centres such as your local YMCA and ask for information regarding support groups; many YMCA branches have Teen Parent programs. Local newspapers, including free community server periodicals, may also have listings of various groups. Churches, hospitals and health care centres are another valuable source of information regarding groups and their meeting places and times. Finally, if no groups exist in your location, petition your social service agency to create this resource. If no local support groups can be accessed, try online groups to help meet your needs as a teenage parent.
A classic type of support group for many different concerns is one that offers emotional support to its members. Teen mothers need the reassurance and strength that comes from sharing their fears, worries, anger, happiness and other emotions that arise as they strive to raise their children. This type of group needs to be led by a professional therapist who can guide teenagers in dealing with the multitude of feelings that are often overwhelming for first-time mothers.
One of the most important ways a mothers' support group can aid teenagers is by providing peer interaction. A teen mother may feel as though she is the only one in the world going through the stresses of being such a young parent. It can be a great relief and mood-elevating when she meets other young women in the same position. These young ladies can share all the issues commonly faced in their situation, such as the father's involvement or non-involvement, their parents' reactions to being grandparents, and difficulties with schooling and socialising.
Support groups can provide teenage mothers with a link to additional resources. Community-sponsored groups can enlighten the new moms as to where to go for financial aid, child support help, nutrition benefits and low-to-no-cost health care for themselves and their children. Young mothers often remain unaware of specific services available to them if they lack an information support group to guide them. The Auckland Women's Center contends young parents need good local support groups in order to benefit not only from the group's aid but to provide additional resources to meet needs outside the scope of the support group.
Teens should seek skills-teaching support groups in order to ready themselves for taking care of their infants. These class-based groups are helpful while the teenager is pregnant but are nearly essential once the child is born. Many young mothers learn how to properly feed, burp, bathe, change and interact with their little ones from their own mothers but, according to Children Services Practice Notes, if this is not accomplished in a sensitive and supportive manner, the teenage mom may resent her mother's "taking over." Teenage mothers who learn these skills from support groups often feel more confident and empowered as parents.
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