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Young Women in Trouble

I've been working with the young people at the juvenile center long enough that I've seen almost everything. There are plenty of young people that have committed murder, rape, robbery, prostitution, etc. These things are deeply troubling to me...as they should be. As part of our work there, we focus on not "reacting" to things they tell us with disbelief or condemnation. We minimize any kind of shock we may have about the things we hear. That does not mean there aren't days that I leave there just feeling sad about the stories I hear.

This is one of those weeks. When I met with the girls, we were doing a Lifechurch message on Emotions. The message itself wasn't too serious, just opened up some ideas for conversation. The troubling thing is that everything we talked about ended up being about someone that was either pregnant or already had a baby or two. We talked about happiness or joy. They described the moment when their baby was born as one of the happiest or most joyful moments. They talked about how being away from their babies makes them sad. We then talked about exactly how many of them either have at least one baby or are currently pregnant and half of them raised their hand.

One girl was fifteen years old. She was in there for robbery, meaning she actually attacked someone to steal from them. She was not alone in her crime. She was working together with her mother to commit this crime. She never did tell me why they did it, but her mother recruited her help, now they both sit in jail and the girl's grandmother is taking care of the baby. She was obviously upset about this. It was her first time in the juvenile center and I truly believe she was upset about being away from her baby.

Another girl shared her story with me privately. She explained that her step-father thought she was too difficult to handle and didn't want her around. For this reason, she was sent to live with her grandmother. That was all good except, grandma had a boyfriend she liked to stay all weekend with, therefore, this beautiful girl, who happened to be twelve at the time, was left home alone all weekend. Naturally she started hanging out with older kids and going to high school parties. Then she started inviting them to her grandma's house since she was alone anyway. To make a long story short, at twelve years old she was pregnant.

There are a few common themes I hear among these girls with babies. The main one is that their mother is pre-occupied with a new boyfriend so they aren't paying attention to what the girls are up to. The girls themselves shared what went wrong in their situation, but they are repeating the cycle of not being involved in their kids lives. I ended the session by sharing with them that no one is more equipped to parent their child then they are. They should do everything in their power to be there for their children and be the kind of Mom they can be proud of.

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