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What it's like to be a teen father

Dan is 17. He is a father to a one-year-old girl. He shares his experience with teenage fatherhood.

I was 15 when I found out I was going to be a father.  Janet and I had gone to town one Sunday and she kept complaining about the smell of food as we passed different restaurants. She ran past most of them since she didn’t like the smell at all. I was confused, Janet loved food more than anything. A week later, she called and told me that she was pregnant. She was 15 as well.

Well, while I was shocked to hear the news, I wasn’t surprised since we had been having a lot of unprotected sex.

I was not particularly excited but, of course, I acted quite happy. I was actually happy for her since I didn’t consider myself a part of the situation at that time.  

We told our parents when Janet was 3 months pregnant. My mum thought I was joking while her mum wanted her to get an abortion. There is a part of me that agreed with Janet’s mum but I did not say that out loud. I couldn’t.

Janet’s mum kept talking about how teen parenthood would ruin our lives. Having a child is a laborious lifetime job, she said severally.

We couldn’t let our parents decide for us.

We kept the baby. Janet’s mum kicked her out of home. She couldn’t withstand the shame.

She was born on April 22 at 7:17 AM. That is a date I will forever remember.

We had been up all night. Me rubbing her back. Her throwing all sorts of insults at me.

Let’s just say that it was an eventful day.

Janet’s mum was somewhat right

Having a new baby comes with its fair share of difficulties. It was the first time in my life that I had to be totally responsible for another human being.

First, sleep becomes a luxury. I can’t remember the last time I had a good night's sleep.  Even though Janet’s mum (yes, she finally accepted), helps with the child when we are at school, both parents have made it very clear that she is our responsibility. Not theirs.

Over the past year, I have not spent much time with my friends. Duty calls. Plus, they tease me a lot and I don’t like it.

I have been forced to ‘grow up in so many ways. First, as a man, I have to provide for my family. After school and during school holidays, I look for jobs here and there. I cannot go to see my child empty-handed. She needs diapers too, and feeding bottles, and toys, and medical insurance, savings for school fees, and many other things.

When it comes to money, I am more careful. I barely get enough to spend on myself as I used to. Much of what I earn, is already budgeted for. The child needs it more.

Psychologically, it has been a struggle at different points. When Janet was kicked out of her home, I blamed myself a lot. The sudden change in social status from a young man to a father affected me a lot. I felt like I had lost a piece of myself. The loss of friends, the cost of raising a child, and the hustle of juggling school while raising a child have taken a toll on me as well. I’ve had moments where wish I wasn’t a father this young.

Janet and I are no longer together. The responsibility of parenthood affected our relationship a lot. We could no longer be together as a couple but we are raising our baby girl. We are still having our ups and downs and trying to improve our communication. Yelling at each other from time to time but also learning that it is actually possible to talk without yelling.

Parting shot?

To teen fathers, it is good to be there for your child. Share in the responsibility with the mother whether you are together or not.

To teens who are not fathers yet, wear a condom. Teenage parenthood is hard. It forces you to grow up very first. Enjoy your youth. Responsibly.

 

Did you learn something new?

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