When Erica Jack found out she was pregnant, she noticed a lot of changes, more than her growing belly.
She started to argue a lot with her boyfriend, she wasn’t getting along with her mom, and everything was going downhill, she recalls.
It was a lot for a 17 year old to handle.
“It was hard,” Jack says. “I ended up getting kicked out of my mom’s house, not because I was pregnant, but just because I wasn’t getting along with her.
“I was kicked out of high school for being pregnant. I ended up seeing a different side to my boyfriend.”
Jack says despite critics’ perceptions of reality shows like Teen Mom as promoting teen pregnancy, the shows can shed light on a young mother’s struggles.
“I think that a lot of times these girls might feel like nobody loves them, so they have a baby to assure themselves that someone does love them,” she said. “I definitely don’t think it’s the show that influences them.”
A young mom makes her own decisions, Jack says, whether it’s accidental or not.
“With my first child, I had problems at home, and I felt like my boyfriend was all I had. I was on the pill and I think I was having side affects so I went off the pill, and I didn’t use another form of birth control,” Jack said. “I was just being careless and I was going through a lot at the time. All I cared about was me and my boyfriend. I didn’t plan on having a baby but I also don’t believe in abortion so I just kept it and had my beautiful daughter Leah.”
Lorena Murialdo is a community health promoter at Planned Parenthood, a community health centre that provides primary and sexual health care services to youth between the ages of 13 and 29. Murialdo focuses on working with young parents. She says teen parenting is not easy, and her programs help them with their struggles.
“I think in general, young parents don’t have the support they need, whether it’s from family or the community in general,” Murialdo says. “They often don’t have anyone to help them with their baby. I think that what the government can do is not enough in terms of providing social assistance. The money’s clearly not enough to pay rent and buy healthy foods.”
Jack says while parenting is still a struggle, she’s been finding her feet.
“With me, my situation did get better; eventually we began to work on our relationship before the baby came and we ended up having another child and we are working on things,” she says. “It’s been five years, and we’re ok now relationship wise.”