The Scoop on Being a Teen Mom: Teen Expert Tricia Goyer Gives Parenting Advice to Young Mothers
Using her own experience as a teen mother it is Tricia Goyer’s vision to be a voice of encouragement and possibility for teenage girls, pregnant teens and mothers through her books and inspirational speaking.
Young Mothers Have Dreams
Goyer had an abortion at the age of 15 and was 17 years old when giving birth to her son Cory. She dropped out of regular high school but finished her education by going to community classes. She was able to graduate with her class but didn’t spend her senior year at high school with her classmates. One of Goyer’s speaking topics is based on her book Life Interrupted [Zondervan, 2004], we asked Goyer about the scoop on being a young mom.
Goyer’s passion for helping teen mother is evident in the compassionate energy of her voice as she replies: “Even if motherhood comes upon you unexpected, no matter what age 17, 25 or 30, life doesn’t stop when you have a baby and you can go on to fulfill your dreams and pursue your passions.”
This is an important message for Goyer and she feels very strongly about encouraging young girls not to give up on their own dreams. She goes on to say: “To continue pursuing your own passions and dreams as a parent is not only good for the mom and the joy it brings but it also sets a great example for the children to follow when they see their parents follow their dreams, doing good things.”
Find a Mom Mentor
Goyer also encourages young mothers to surround themselves with supportive women in the community. “There should always be someone for girls to look up to, a mentor or role model. It doesn’t have to be someone you know, it could be an author you like or a personality in the media. Just someone the mother trusts and can model after,” Goyer explains.
Because Goyer, now 37, was a teenage mother herself, it is no surprise that her passion is to give back and mentor other teenage mothers. In her hometown in Montana, she participates in a weekly support group mentoring teenage mothers during the school year. The group reaches out to girls, encourages them, and teaches them valuable parenting skills.
“It doesn’t only help them but it feels good to serve others and we can see positive changes in their lives,” said Goyer to we. “There is one young woman I started mentoring in 2000, she was 15 when she had her baby, she had a difficult childhood and now she is one of the co-leaders in the group. She has grown and matured so much that we now serve teen moms together. It’s wonderful to see the people you are mentoring grow up to join you and become a peer.”
Lessons for a Young Mother
We wanted to know the top three lessons Goyer has learned about parenting and “getting it right”.
Goyer responded: “Before I had kids, I always thought my children were this empty vessel and that I had to put everything into them. It was my responsibility alone to mold them. So, I signed them up for dance, music, sports and art lessons. But what I came to realize was that they didn’t like most of these activities and I had to step back, wait and observe their interests and let them lead me instead of giving them everything.”
For example, Goyer’s daughter, Leslie, told her mother that she would like to play the piano and when Goyer finally found someone to teach her daughter the piano, even the teacher was amazed by how quickly Leslie advanced and excelled.
Another important lesson Goyer shared with us is the fact that kids live in the moment and they don’t care what may be planned for tomorrow. What they remember is what they doing or playing with today. It’s an opportunity for parents to do little things every day to connect with their children and not postpone that movie night or game play until tomorrow.
Appreciate the Father’s Role
According to Goyer’s experience, mothers habitually feel like they always know best. They are often the primary caretaker which has the potential to minimize the role of the dad in that equation. “Especially with boys,” Goyer explains. “They need their dad, they need someone chasing them around the house throwing them into the air and be loud with.”
Sometimes it’s best to step back and let boys be boys and know that’s what boys are supposed to do without trying to calm them down or discourage them from running around. It makes everything easier. Goyer admits: “It wasn’t always my way and I would think I could do a better job at this. But I needed to step back so my husband could step forward which made a difference to my children.”
Tricia Goyer is a frequent speaker and workshop presenter for teens around the nations, and offers programs to assist teens and teen moms. She is available for media, speaking and book signings. Read a book review on Goyer’s new book Blue Like Play Dough, released July 21, 2009.