So, after the success of last years Young Mums in 2010
post I thought I'd have another go at putting together a collection of
Prymface stories, events and challenges that was 2011 for young mums.
2011 kicked off with a blog warning that, in light of looming public service cuts, attitudes to young parents would need to change significantly if society really wanted to support them. Rather than pushing young parents into 'special groups' so they can be ignored and excluded by everyone else, they need to be included in wider policy and decision making. But this requires decision makers to stop treating young parents like they know whats best and actually LISTEN! I also finally found a recording of the 'Battle of Ideas' debate about whether policy should be obsessed with teenage pregnancy.
Naturally I was critical of the whole set up as young parents voices
were conveniently excluded! Their disparaging remarks about a
'redemption discourse' didn't quite feel right either...
Prymface was also contact by the academic Imogen Tyler and got a mention in her paper!http://www.research.lancs.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/pramfaced-girls-the-class-politics-of-maternal-tv(d961508b-7bcf-41df-a19b-fa6f5965b727).html
DWP's consultation on changes to CSA was launched and prymface's most commented on blog post of 2011 was posted: old skool teen mums, debating whether it is better to be a teen mum now (when 'teenage parent support' is often automatic) or in the olden days (when we had to fight for ourselves)! Student Parent was also published by former teenage mum Camilla Chafer, the first book aimed at young mums who want to study (at last!) which I blog about later when I try to reassure some young parents that going to uni isn't as scary the admissions people make it sound!
March was a sad month but I was overwhelmed by the support I received, both 'real life' and online. Thank you to those who know what I'm talking about.
March also saw Cherry Healey ask 'when is the right time to have a baby?' * where we were introduced to the amazing young mum, Caterpillar Mummy, and saw first hand on the telly a group of young mums being harassed on the street simply for being 'teen mums'. *Cherry concludes there is no RIGHT age!
In April prymface submitted a response
to the consultation on child maintenance changes which included young mums voices and
highlighted the fact that young parents, particularly those who did not
have good relationships with their ex's, would be disproportionally
affected by the introduction of charging the main carer to apply for
child support, and the general assumption that 'informal arrangements' could
just be made with ex's if we wanted! (yeah right! Have you met my ex??)
May was a month of celebrations! Prymface turned two and the Pushback blog turned one. Young mum blogger and long-standing supporter of prymface, Hayley, was nominated for best pregnancy blog in the MADS awards. Prymface blogged about being pro-choice. Gretchen Sissons, who puts together the Pushback blog, also published a fab paper entitled 'Finding a Way to Offer Something More: Reframing Teen Pregnancy Prevention'
This month we were reminded that even Guardian readers can be small minded and ignorant when reacting to an article on young grandparents! I also blogged about raising teens as, for a moment, I thought I might know what I was talking about - That moment soon passed!
I was lucky enough to interview the lovely writer and former teen mum Amy Benfer, who said some amazing things. Like this:
"It is absolutely crucial that teen parents are not treated as if they are broken, damaged, or ruined as parents, as women, as students, or as people. So many cultures, both conservative and liberal, hold up pregnancy as the absolute worst thing that can happen to a young, unmarried woman. They justify and reinforce prejudices against teen parents as part of the greater goal of discouraging teens in general to have sex. But it is intolerably cruel to punish actual parents and their actual children, ostensibly for the greater good of discouraging other teens from continuing in their paths. Teen parents are parents, first, with nearly two decades of hands-on child-rearing in front of them. They deserve their best chance to do right by themselves and their children, without the burden of having to serve as a cautionary tale for teenagers who are not in their position."
In July the CSA consultation response was
published (note the actual findings were largely ignored!). July and
August also saw series 3 of Underage and Pregnant - For those who
watched and thought it looked like fun please read this post before signing up to the next series!
In August the media told us that if you were angry with the police you could pop into your nearest city centre and get stuff for free. So people did, and then they were put in prison. Pymface questioned the accusation that teenage parents were responsible for such acts....
In September the Care to Learn consultation was launched where the DfE 'consulted' on how they should restrict funding. This scheme, which pays for childcare while young parents (up to 20) are studying, has a major impact on young mums and it can very often make the difference between whether a young parent can complete their education or not. Prymface stepped up to the mark, as did all (75+) of you who responded to my pleas of completing surveys and such so that we could submit a response that included the views of as many young parents (and former young parents) as possible. In September the amazing young mum blogger Alice Baillie was also nominated for the Sue Ryder Woman of Achievement Award where she got to dress up and look stunning! If you haven't read Alice's blog: 'My Life, My Son, My way' then take a look and you will soon realise why she was nominated!
The final prymface response
to the Care to Learn consultation was submitted in October. This
highlighted the need for flexibility so that young parents could choose
WHEN is the right time to return to education for them and HOW they
wish to study. This flexibility is key to supporting young parents and ensuring
that the barriers to education are removed. In October NSPCC also published a report about ‘Standing on my own two feet’: Disadvantaged Teenagers, Intimate Partner Violence and Coercive Control' which acknowledged situations where young womens' experiences of power and control are
compounded by the stigma of teenage pregnancy.
Platorm51 ran a workshop about young parents at the FEM11 conference titled: 'A different perspective: teenage mums and feminism' - sounded fab (plus young parents were actually involved!). Prymface also scoured the internet to find out who else had responded to the Care to Learn Consultation (and also who hadn't!). After copying a funny tweet from Natasha,
went mental, quite unexpectedly, on twitter - and it turned out a lot of
young mums all over the world are still hearing the same old sh**!! The network of young mums on twitter expanded, and spread a warm feeling of being part of something!
December was a month for the media: The Radio 1 Surgery had a great show
on advice for young parents which didn't sound preachy or patronising!
(NB Doctor Stuart is a big Prymface fan!). Young mummy blogger, Jo Middleton, was on Radio 4's woman's hour where she was rather rudely quizzed over how she explained her teen pregnancy to her daughter! Young mum, 'Dawn up the Road', had a book of poems published. Femiste founder and former teen mum Lauren Bruce was interviewed by Natasha for the Pushback blog. In this amazing interview Lauren reminds young mums of their rights and to fight against the 'encouragement to accept failure'.
This year has also seen exciting young mummy blogger's having second baby news(!), in the birth of Simply Hayley's second child in July, Mum Reinvented's second child just a few days ago (after being pregnant for about 10 years!), and young mum Becki is now preggers with her second too! Congrats to all. (Dear boyf, Don't get any ideas!)
It has also been an amazing year for young mums in Cape Town. Tracy Engelbrecht, former teen mum, is quite possibly Superwoman and I can't even begin to list the things she's done for young mums, not because she thinks she's all that, but because she knows young mums are 'all that', and more, and they deserve a lot more than the deal they're currently getting. Over 2011 this young mum support group has grown exponentially due to the hard work of Tracy and her family. If you ever want a good charity to donate to, then THIS is it.
2012 looks set to be another exciting year with the launch of a new website for young mums, Mumette, in the new year. A group of young mums in London are also busy fundraiser and preparing for their Gold Expedition for the Duke of Edinburgh award with a plan to cycle round Holland with their kids in trailers! Follow their adventure on their blog.
The DfE's Care to Learn Consultation Summary should also be available any day now (they said December so are now officially late!). As I said last year....watch this space.....
After being rather skeptical about feminism, in 2011 I discovered that young mums are probably the ultimate 'feminists'. They have often experienced a lack of control over choices and then judgment from others who think they should feel guilt and shame. But young mums are creating their OWN values, not the values that others choose for them, and making their own choices, often in spite of, rather than because of, society. Young mums are also helping each other to make those choices, the ones that are often hard to find, the ones that others don't know about because they have never had to. Young mums don't want it all, they just want to be heard and included, not squeezed out or pushed into the mold that doesn't fit. And so prymface will carry on ranting, next year and the year after and the year after.....and if that annoys or offends anyone then please feel free to speak to me about it!
Happy New Year!
P.s. And this is what you've been up to in 2011....
Tags: 2011 endofyearreview
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