My name is Liezel Jacinto (nee Araneta), a proud 23-year old mother of two boys. I had my first son when I was 17. I wanted to comment on an article written by Jennifer Reyes in a previous issue of the Filipino Journal.
Teen pregnancy is an obvious issue in our community. However, I believe more should be done, than passing judgment. The goal of the Filipino Youth Initiative is “to promote, validate, strengthen, and unify young Filipino adults in Winnipeg,” not to criticize others in our community. There is no need to point out the problems in our community without resulting in a solution.
Six years ago, when I sat in my bathroom looking at the pregnancy test, all my worst fears were realized. Seeing two blue lines staring back at me -- my whole body was numb. The worry of what my future would hold for me, the fear of what would happen when I told my parents. I wondered what kind of mother I would be and how I would ever support a child. I wondered if the father would stick around. I asked Why me?
I remember people’s reactions and “advice.” People asking me “how can you take care of a kid if you can’t even take care of yourself?”, telling me “you better have an abortion!”, “your life is over” . . . I’ve heard it all. You can’t forget the dirty looks and stares of people. Being a young parent is far from glamorous and is extremely difficult.
However, being blessed with the unconditional love and support of my parents, family and friends, I was able to stand tall and find direction in life without feeling shame or negativity. Unfortunately, not all young mothers and fathers are this fortunate.
Teenage parents prematurely lead adult lives. Teenage mothers are girls who find themselves in a predicament they know could have been prevented or avoided. Most young parents are taking accountability for their actions and more must be done to help these young mothers and fathers succeed to make better lives for themselves and their families.
Teen pregnancy is a major contributor to poverty, single parenthood, and limited futures for adolescents and their children that is why it is so significant to attend to the problem now and not later. We must help young parents rise above what the statistics forecast. We can no longer look the other way when it comes to the issues our youth face today whether it is drugs or alcohol abuse, crime, sexual orientation, sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy.
Our community must work together to empower, educate and encourage these individuals. We can address these issues by offering workshops on life skills such as budgeting, parenting, and financial planning. Young parents need access to resources in terms of rehabilitation, communication, parenting classes, relationship counseling and training. Successful intervention methods must be established to resolve teenage pregnancy issues and teenage mother’s predicaments.
On behalf of all young parents, please do not feel “kawawa” for me or any other. Support us, encourage us, empower us and help strengthen us to realize our full potential.
Liezel Jacinto LPN
Phone: (204) 333-2716