My friend Amanda Cunningham is the leader of the Mesquite and Garland YoungLives Club and she’s opened my eyes over the last couple of years to a group of moms we often overlook: teen moms. In the mom-group and mommy-blog world we are so careful to include the working moms, the stay-at-home moms, the single moms, but teen moms have their own special place at the table of motherhood too.
Teen moms are moms, just like us, plain and simple. They carried their babies for nine months. They have sleepless nights and are covered in spit up and drowning in dirty diapers. But they are doing it while facing the pressures of high school and college. They might be doing it while wondering where their next meal is coming from or where they will sleep tonight because choosing to keep their baby meant losing their family. This motherhood thing isn’t a competition of who has it hardest (or has their life most together), but if it were, teen moms might take the “Mom with the Most Obstacles to Overcome” award. And yet, we so often overlook them. Let’s change that!
Teen moms, we see you. We see you struggling. We see you shining. We see you carrying your book bag on your shoulders and your toddler on your hip. We see you and we are proud of you. And we want to come alongside you and do this mom thing together. You might not realize it, but us “grown-up” moms rely on each other a lot. We couldn’t do it without our mom friends…and we know that it’s sometimes hard to make mom friends in high school. A group of women from Mesquite, Garland, Forney and Rockwall–some who were once teen moms themselves and others who just have a heart to help–have set a table just for you. Because they think you’re awesome and they also know that what you’re doing, raising a child while finishing your own childhood, it’s hard stuff, and support can mean all the difference.
Once a month on Thursday evenings at Lake Ridge Bible Church in Mesquite, my friend Amanda works with her team of YoungLives mentors to plan a fun night full of games, laughter, practical resources and life skills, and gospel-centered encouragement for 40-50 teen moms. Volunteers pitch in to prepare and serve a meal to the moms. And more volunteers take care of the their children and feed them dinner too. This month they are launching a program for teen dads as well. Dads can connect with a mentor and take parenting classes in exchange for diapers and gift cards.
YoungLives of Garland & Mesquite is a safe place to build community and get to know other young moms and dads walking a similar path. Are you a teen mom or dad or do you know one in the Mesquite and Garland area who could use a supportive group? Contact Amanda to find out how you can join: 214-864-9268 or [email protected]
Are you past the teen years and just have a heart for helping young men and women grow in their parenting roles and finding their identity as a child of Christ? Consider supporting Mesquite and Garland YoungLives in one of the following ways.
Become a Monthly Contributor
YoungLives leaders, like Amanda, raise their own modest salary, as well as all the funds to do monthly club, special events, and to take care of special needs that arise for their mamas. They also have a separate campaign to raise money for summer camp for their teen moms and their children. Monthly contributors make Amanda’s work possible. It’s truly a full time job.
Volunteer to Be a Childcare Worker
Covering childcare during their Club Meetings (one Thursday night a month) is a big challenge. Men are welcome and encouraged to help too!
Be a Mentor
Mentors are women who love Jesus and love teens. They don’t have to be moms! They are willing to spend 8-10 hours a week doing life with a young mom and help drive them and their babies to monthly club. The club is expanding this month with a program for teen dads too, so male mentors are needed as well.
About four times a year Amanda plans a Baby Shop night for the girls allowing them the opportunity to “shop” for donated items. They also have urgent needs come up with moms who don’t have formula for the week or are out of diapers. It’s wonderful to be able to have resources to fill those needs as they arise. The most needed items are:
- New or gently-used carseats (no expired carseats or seats that have been in a car accident)
- Wal-mart gift cards to help with specific urgent needs for moms or children
- Teen clothing of all sizes
- Diapers and wipes
- Strollers and swings
Like their Facebook Group to stay up to date with other needs as they come up, such as the Angel Tree at Christmas. Last year they were able to give 140 moms and children presents for Christmas.
Call or text Amanda Cunningham at 214-864-9268 or email her [email protected] to talk with her about becoming a donor, mentor, childcare volunteer or to donate an item.
If you’re outside of Mesquite/Garland and want to get involved, check out the YoungLives locator to find a group near you to join or serve.