So, for the last 9 weeks, we have been hosting #youngmumschat on Twitter. Each week we get between 14 and 27 tweeters joining in from 8.30pm till, usually, way past 11pm! We have a handful of regulars and then a few newbies each week. New connections and support networks are made and each week it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling!

Something I hadn't anticipated, though, was the comments from people afterwards who aren't young mums and never were, but they picked up on the chat and they message me to tell me what they think of it! So far 100% of comments are positive, which makes me think maybe #youngmumschat is also, is some small way, helping to change the stereotype or negative perception of young mothers....OR maybe the negativity is just how we EXPECT others to see us, and actually they thought we were a pretty ok bunch all along!  

Its true that I read articles like this and look down at the comments and I want to cuddle up all the young mums in the world and never let them out my sight because I never want them to hear someone calling them a "slut", "slag" or "stupid" just because they are a young mum. BUT something came up in this weeks chat that got me thinking about this more..... One young mum emailed me a few months ago saying she was finding it hard to mix with other mums, who were all older than her. My first reaction was "well if they don't like you, stuff them - It's their loss!", but I managed to tone my advice down a bit while another young mum rightly pointed out that its important to make an effort to get know people..... Then this week that same young mum told me that her partner took her son to a kid's birthday party .... All the other mums told him how amazing she was, what a good job she was doing and how much they admired her for bringing up her son on her own!! In an instant, that problem was sorted, and her son is now the most popular kid in school!  Sometimes we are so quick to go into defensive mode we don't actually stop to consider that people might NOT always think we're sluts slags or stupid!! And that look people give us might not be pity or judgment but actually be admiration!!

During #youngmumschat we've asked a number of questions about how young mums are treated differently and responses include:

"People assume I don't know as much as I do-They try and tell me how to parent my daughter"
"I don't feel I'm taken seriously"
"People see a young mum and imagine ONE scenario without even knowing the first thing about you"
"People assume I'm single, struggling and pitiful"
"Slut-shaming gets tedious"
"The 'young mum' title stays with us forever because there is always someone passing judgement on our decisions or past decisions"
"I was contacted by a TV company but they didn't use me because I didn't represent the 'typical teenage mum'"
"Everywhere needs a better understanding of young mums. Less stereotyping and less judgments of young people."
"I'd have liked to have been able to walk down the street and not hear people talking about us!"
" A university said because of my son they didn't think I could offer any commitment to the course"
"My baby ended up being rushed to hospital due to a GP electing to patronise me rather than listen"
"I learned that there were shockingly unprofessional and judgmental people in maternity and social services"

So, next week I wanna turn the tables with #youngmumschat -  I want young mums (and of course former young mums!) to ask questions to others and I want non-young mums to answer! 

SO.....Young Mums, what have YOU always wanted to ASK OTHERS. Tweet or email me your questions....

Those who aren't/weren't young mums, this is YOUR chance to be heard!! PLEASE GET YOURSELF ON TWITTER FROM 8.30pm Wednesday 5th September..... (You don't really have to stay till gone 11pm!)

And we will be gentle with you - I promise!!