Posted by prymface on Thursday, February 13, 2014
Sometimes I'll be listening to something on the radio or reading something and it'll be someone really clever talking about motherhood or feminism or equality or whatever and I totally wanna support what they're saying and get behind it....but I can't because there's this niggling voice in my head shouting 'BUT YOU'VE FORGOTTEN ABOUT TEEN MUMS!"
I honestly don't think its intentional, its just that if your life experience, and all those around you, only involve parenthood occurring way after you've learnt to drink coffee and wear heels like a grown up, then there's a possibility that we slipped your mind!
So, here are some pointers for concepts that often mean NOTHING to young mums:
1. ''Returning to work after having a baby'
Young mums rarely have to deal with negotiating such back to work terms and conditions because they are simply starting from scratch! Starting to build some type of career after having a baby is a whole different ball game!
2. Maternity Pay
As above, few young mums are fortunate enough to receive 'maternity pay' - So for young mums who actually choose to spend some time with their baby before they're able to embark on the bottom of their career ladder, they are often entitled to income support- Despite this being a similar amount of approx £120 a week to maternity pay and despite being paid for by the government, like majority of maternity pay, this apparently makes teen mums the scum of the earth and gives everyone the right to throw stones at them! (Double standards much?!)
3. 'Choosing to be a stay at home mum'
I know I used this term above but the reality is often quite different for young mums than the articles you read in the telegraph about the SAHM who is supported by a wealthy husband and wants a break from her high powered job to be a high powered SAHM instead; THIS is a choice. For young mums the choice can be working for minimum wage in rubbish conditions and not having time to sort out your housing and suitable childcare or being stuck at home, isolated and poor and being written off by society. We just do what we have to do!
4. Gap years/anything about student life!
Travelling the world on your own to find yourself, standard nursing hangovers in lectures and whole duvet days after a night out were not part of our early 20s! You can reminisce all you like but we will not share this with you!
5. Increasing the personal tax allowance
You know who this actually benefits? The 'additional earner' in the couple who works part time where the partner earns enough that they don't rely on any income based benefits. Oh and basically everyone else who doesn't receive a top up benefit based on their income because they're too rich. I've not heard of any young mum who has even recognised a benefit of this. Correct me if I'm wrong?
6. Removing child benefit for those paying the high tax rate
If your partner earns over £40,000 and you're loud and confident enough to protest about this then I don't think you should be at the front of the sympathy queue - I'm sorry. If you're a single parent having to give up your child benefit but with no other options left to increase your income or if your partner is a total B who restricts the money that you have access to, as part of his controlling behaviour, then YOU'RE the ones they should be protesting on behalf of!
7. Child Maintenance Service (formally CSA)
Oh the big bad CSA will chase those poor innocent men who were deceived into having a baby by a manipulative teenage hussy and when they catch these poor souls they will rob them of all their hard earned cash till the end of time (or 83p a week in my case) - Most young mums don't get ANY financial support from their ex partner - Might be worth remembering this sometimes!
8. Anything about savings
Just no. You try starting with nothing and trying to keep up with the mums twice your age to ensure your children don't miss out. Savings are a far far away fantasy! (Which is a shame when we are then expected to help fund them though university!)
9.Slowing down/reducing work hours/getting out the rat race after having children
You're having a laugh right - Being a young parent is basically like starting at the bottom of a really really steep hill - There are no dips! You're lucky if you find the odd plateau.
10. The gender pay gap only being an issue when women reach their 30s
By the time you have children and realise the pay gap even affects you, our kids have probably left home and we're ready to start taking on those men for you! Tag Team right?
11. Too many jobs are part time
I hate hearing this as an assumed negative thing - Have you tried actively looking for part time job to fit around your family when you are also trying to climb the flimsy career ladder? Clue: its a nightmare.
12. Sharing maternity leave
I know, I know, in principle its a totally good thing, but it benefits those with a partner who believes in equality - If you've got that to start with, you're very lucky, and you can probably sort a lot of things out yourselves.
13. Universal 24 hour childcare as the solution to everything.
Childcare is important but its not a substitute for family life and support that fits around the needs of the family. I want to never see my child so I can be out all day earning mega bucks, said no young mother ever! Also, some families are more than able to pay for their own childcare - For others, paying the unfunded 20-30% means not eating tonight.
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