August 10, 2009,
A.Y. asks from San Jose, CA on August 04, 2009
Teen Mom on the Run
Last September I wrote to you wonderful moms for advice about my step daughter who got pregnant at 17. She made the decision to keep the baby. While at home we helped and showed her the proper way to care for the baby. Without notice she moved out because she felt we were too controlling and all the attention is on baby. We have an idea where she is but she has not communicated anything to us except for a "Dear John" letter summing all her frustrations about us. She IS a good mom but still immature. She is fully aware that taking the baby away is hurting everyone at home. Need your input asap.
2 moms found this helpful
L.P. answers from San Francisco on August 05, 2009
Hi, I also was in the same situation a few years back. My daughter got pregnant at 16! She had the baby at 17, and another less than 12 months later. She kind of ran away from home for like a year or so. I mean, she was always around but never around if you know what I mean. Now she's 22 years old with a 4 and a 3 year old. Hard, granted, but she's handling so very well. I'm so very proud of her. I see my granddaughters all the time. The worst thing was when they lived with us. Because she didn't work and went out at night. I was 'stuck' with the babies at night. I get up at five in the morning so I was always mad at her for keeping me up so late. And then she would sleep all day and let the babies go crazy in the house. I would come home to a mess, this created huge problems between my husband and myself. Anyhoo, long story short, now she's with a wonderful man who loves her and her girls. He has been the greatest influence on her. I'm so happy for them. So things do have a happy ending! (Funny thing is, now she is a better housekeeper than I am)
H.D. answers from San Francisco on August 04, 2009
Keep the door always open hun. I am so very VERY sorry. And if she comes home, just love on her! She and the baby will need all the support you can give.
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S.R. answers from San Francisco on August 05, 2009
I was a teen age mother also, and also left home to raise my own child. I am now 41, and although I can't deny that it was QUITE a struggle with constant financial issues during the initial years, I am now 41 years old, still single, with 2 children, gainfully employed, and a homeowner. All without an ounce of help from my family.
My oldest son faced some trouble in his teen years and I do carry a bit of regret that the instability of our early lives together had contributed to that, but lie any other teenager he eventually came out of it and now at 21 is learning to become his own independent, productive young man.
You have received some good advice. No one can tell another woman how to raise her children, regardless of how young a new mother is. Maternal instinct is strong, and although your intentions are good and you really want to help her, it sounds to me like she may be feeling threatened by your help, and she is doing exactly what she should... protecting her role as mother as any momma bear would... fiercely!!! :-)
In looking at her actions from that point of view... Bravo for her!!! She has taken a critical step in motherhood.
It will be hard for her. She will need financial help, help in understanding how to navigate the world, help in setting up a home, and help in creating a vision for how she can mother this child while still building towards a productive adult life for herself. This will be hard because while doing this, she will still be very tempted by all the things that her friends are still doing - going out and having fun. It is a conflict in priorities that is very difficult to reconcile, and again, I am speaking this because I know it. I lived it. There is no shame in pointing her towards the AFDC, Food Stamps, Medical, and Subsidized housing resources that can help her provide for herself and her child until she is more on her feet. I'm sure you and your husband have paid more than your fair share of taxes to provide for programs such as these. There are employment training programs at the ESO office on Old Oakland Road, and the Santa Clara County Regional Occupation Center, and through the local Center for Employment Training (CET) offices. She can qualify for and recieve free daycare while she goes to school. Call the Santa Clara County Childcare Council (Commonly known as "4C's") and ask for referals to subsidized infant care facilities in your area. Go to the Department of Housing and Urban Development website and pull up the listing of subsidized apartments in the County, print the list, and have her go door to door and apply. She'll be on a waiting list for a while, but once she's up she can have a place of her own that she can afford. I utilized all of these programs for 2 years while I went to school after having my son. That is what they are there for. Once I had gotten through my schooling, got a job, and stayed with the job long enough to feel stable in it, I left these programs voluntarily, began paying my own way (including the $4,000 a month I currently pay in income tax!!! So yes! I WAS entitled to receive some help from welfare!!!), and I've never turned back.
Please feel free to contact me directly if you need additional information on some of these resources I've provided.
As to what you can do in the immediate situation... I would encourage you to just let her know that you love her, let her know that you want her to succeed, give her some information on some of the ways she can do it, let her choose which paths she'll want to take, and ask her what you can do to help her.
Best wishes to you, your step-daughter, and your brand new grandchild!!!
Bringing a new life into this world, no matter what circumstances that child comes into this world under is precious, and is never outside of the grace and provision of God.
2 moms found this helpful
G.R. answers from Sacramento on August 05, 2009
You need to let her know that your door is always open, that you love her, and that she doesn't have to be on her own. Do your best to help her get an education so that she can take care of herself. Let her know that you will help with childcare. That said, you've got to let her make her own choices, however bad they are, because you can't really stop her. If you feel she is not capable of caring for the baby, you need to get in touch with child protective services and sue for custody.
This is a tough situation. But if you think the child is not safe you have an obligation to act. My mom and my aunt were both teen moms. Ok in my case not so ok for my cousins. My aunt never grew up. It has been like watching a 35 year train wreck. 5 children with 4 fathers. Only one has any kind of normal life. The others have made really bad choices right in line with their mom's, often even worse. My aunt could be a caring mom, but often it was like an inmate ruling the asylum.
It may be that your SD will be like my mom, mature for her age (still very immature by adult standards). My mom did her best. But so did my dad and his family. I also had a lot of adults to depend on.
1 mom found this helpful
F.S. answers from San Francisco on August 06, 2009
This is a very common problem and the bottom line is, "The baby is not yours." I was once told if there is something to report to CPS, do it, or else it is not your business.
I know it is heartbreaking. She really needs you more than you need her and usually they will come back.
1 mom found this helpful
C.B. answers from San Francisco on August 05, 2009
I am 41 and have two lovely children with my husband, and I know many times I feel my parents and in-laws are being too controlling and making me crazy. I can just imagine how a 17 year old with troubles would feel, especially living under her parents' roof who feel she needs to be shown the proper way to care for a baby. I know it's all good intentions, but a mother's instincts are very strong and she needs to be given the chance to learn on her own, of course with intervention if she is doing something dangerous to herself or the baby.
I agree with the other posts that you just need to be patient and loving and try to get her a message to come home. She no doubt is better off with you, but please try to put yourself in her shoes and try not to be too controlling. It will only drive her away. Do things to make her feel special apart from the baby.
1 mom found this helpful
D.S. answers from San Francisco on August 05, 2009
Hello A.: I believe that you have recieved several good judgements from others. I just want to share information from a view of a foster parent. We were blessed to have several teenagers that lived with us from time to time. My husband and I also took in newborns that were being placed for adoption. Once a child is apart of the picture, it is all about them not the parent(s), only the child is the center of the world and focus. That is reality.
Since you believe she is a decent parent, none of this information may be helpful. I have seen several teen parents that use their child as a weapon so that they can manipulate the people around them. The young parent wants to still have some fun and not have their parents telling them that they now have to be responsible& that those days are over; or they find friends that think it is cute to have a baby around and then reality sets in and they move on and the parent and child have no place to live. I learned fast that we never gave any cash for any reason. If there was abill then we might consider if the young parent was willing to work it off -- sometimes yard work, paint a room etc. That gave them a chance for pride and we saw if they were serious. We were willling to help with food for the child, as well- note I said child not parent(s). My husband has always made it clear to our birth and all of our foster children that there is always room for a child here but we might not take in the parent if they are not seriously working to make something of themselves and a life for the child. As a math teacher he once gave an assignment for a young mom that has a child- the father has dropped from sight- no cash from the dad- and the cost of diapers, food, day care, clothes and rent they had to figure out the costs, and show what it takes to raise that child alone. Several students over the years have sid that it made adifferance for them and decisions they make.
I know that you are soncerned about the safety of the child-- both children actually and that is part of the manipulation. There is no good answer to your problem and not a solution that can help unless you can get your daughter to agree. She is aware of the pain she is causing and aware of the power that she has. Now you have to hope that you can be there to always pick up the pieces and provide a haven for your grandchild. I pray that you will find some peace just knowing they are safe. Nana G
1 mom found this helpful
C.C. answers from Fresno on August 05, 2009
Is the baby in a safe place right now? If so, then let the situation resolve itself.
If the baby is not in a safe place, then you should do whatever you need to do to get the baby into a safe situation. My cousin did something similar when her baby was born - moved into a place with some friends. Come to find out that several of these "friends" were selling drugs out of this house, and my cousin was using them. (When she's sober, she's a great mom - when she's high... not so much!) Her parents acted immediately by hiring a private detective. He had as much evidence as they needed in only 4 hours, conclusively proving that drug deals were happening in that house. My aunt/uncle confronted their daughter with this information and told her they would call CPS and the police if she didn't hand over the baby immediately. She did. They eventually gained permanent full custody of the baby and adopted him. I sincerely hope this isn't the case with your daughter, but just wanted to let you know how my aunt and uncle went about it - just in case.
Bottom line, you just need to make sure that your grandbaby is safe! If so, then none of the other stuff matters!
1 mom found this helpful
B.R. answers from Sacramento on August 05, 2009
I know you must be worried sick. If you know where she is and can make contact, you might want to start out by acknowldging that you probably did come off as too controlling to her. Even if it didn't seem like controlling to you, I'm sure you will be able to recognize some areas where your actions would have seemed that way to a 17 year old young mother. Once you've basically apologized for being controlling, you might have a chance to talk with her and get some 'ground rules' set up that will allow her to want to return to your home until she's better established to be on her own. Or perhaps you can help her find a small place for her and the baby that is nearby so she can feel she is on her own but still have you close enough to give her assistance when she needs it.
If the baby wasn't in the picture, I'd simply be telling you to give her some space and she'll find one day that she needs you and come back. But with a small infant to think of, my suggestion is that you at least do what you can to assure yourself that they are both OK.
N.P. answers from Modesto on August 05, 2009
I wouldn't do anything but pray. As hard as it will be, you've got to be strong.
She is the mom, and yes she is only 17, but this was her choice to act like an adult.....let her. Let her enter into the world of discovery of caring for a little baby without the love and support of her family.
She'll be back.