Tahlia (mother of Mitchell and Mikayla): The fact that my partner and I, being young, has added a bit of a strain to our relationship. I suppose, especially from my partner’s point of view, he was still hanging out with the boys, so that was very important to him.
Rahnia (mother of Allirah and Ashtyn): I was 19 when I fell pregnant, and I turned 20 in the May and had Allirah in the July so I was still, I think, quite young. Shocked by how full-on it was; I didn’t realise that a baby was 24/7.
Chantelle (mother of Seth): I was 19 when I had him and I still thought I was too young. I still think I am too young, but I am dealing with it a lot better than what I thought I would.
Tahlia: We’ve had to mature really quickly. It’s been a big step from being young yourself to having to bring up your own children now. You can’t live life just living it for yourself.
Selena (community development worker, mother of 3): We have the playgroups every week, but then once a month we also organise an educational workshop. So applied for funding and developed some programs. All of our parents are under 25. We try to give them the information and the support that, if they’re looking for something, we can give them a hand to find what they’re looking for, but essentially we don’t look for it for them.
Chantelle: My mum was 16 when she had me, so it’s not new, it’s just that we’re hearing more about it now.
Young dad: They can’t accept that young people can have kids…
Selena: We had planned on having kids early so that when they were still quite young I was still quite young, and I could go and do whatever I liked. But she was planned at 19, but I still got from the nurses ‘You’re a teenage mum, you’re doing the wrong thing’ blah blah blah, but I had a mortgage and a marriage, but they didn’t see that; they saw the 19.
Justin (father of Mitchell and Mikayla): We lost the chance to go out and spend that time with our friends, what everyone is doing. In a way I didn’t mind it so much because you had something to go to work for every day and it made it sort of worthwhile.
Sarah (mother of 3, stepmother of 2): Since we’ve had our children he’s just dramatically changed a lot. His way of parenting, the different aspect of a father, it’s pretty much just blew him right back and I’m quite proud of it.
Ashley (father of 5): I always said to myself when I was a kid, you know, I’m not having kids and that. I’m being man enough to make them, I’m man enough to be there for them, so yeah.
Sarah: Every time the boys come over and go ‘Come on Doula, come out’ he ‘d be like ‘No, I’ve got to stay home with the boys, I’ve got to stay home with my kids, I can’t go’. So that was a pretty big first step that he took.
Ashley: When she had my other son I was there for his birth, and my mum teased me, like I started crying and that, because it was the first time I had seen him born.
Sarah: I basically said ‘There you go, there’s your kids, it’s your turn; I’ve had my fun, it’s your time to have your fun’, so I basically turned it around and pushed him into it. He got used to it and we just fell into a routine and then it’s pretty much stuck.
Ashley: I don’t want my son to live in that environment, you know what I mean? I want to get him away from everything. I want him to grow up and get a good job and a good woman and a house and a couple of grandkids there running around.
Grace (mother of Zoe and Aiden): I used to think a lot that maybe if I was a bit older, a bit more stable or established, I would have adapted easier.
Mercedes (grandmother of 4):I made the same mistake most of us made. I thought she was too young and too silly, and unable to be a capable mum, but I was wrong. She’s actually - to my surprise - a very good mother. I can’t say nothing.
Helen (parent of Ricky, grandparents of Trey): Our son Ricky, he was in a relationship with Trey’s mother.
Glenn (parent of Ricky, grandparents of Trey): She moved out and Trey stayed here with Ricky, so from then on we sort of helped Ricky as much as we could.
Grace: Joining a parents group was really helpful. I’d recommend it to anyone.
Rahnia: I was at a playgroup with all 40 year old mothers who were renovating houses, and I was in department housing. Can I start up a young parent play group, because I knew there was a few young mothers in the area, and so I got it started up because I felt that there was a need for it in the area and that a lot of young parents weren’t- they were very isolated. Well, I felt isolated, so that’s how it all started and that’s why I wanted to do it.
Grace: If it wasn’t for the group to know that other young mums are going through the same issues as you, having the same problems and being able to talk to them and feeling comfortable with them, it would be much different being with older parents; different issues, the different way they deal with things.
Tahlia: Family helped us out a lot. They were always there to fall back on if we needed them. We got given a lot of things, our dining table even, the lounge. I think the only thing we really have bought is Mikayla’s cot, which now Mitchell uses. Also, because we were young, people just were willing to help us out so much.
Grace: I found that when my daughter reached her 18 month mark and she started at childcare that I had a few hours a week on my hands, and I was ready to go out and meet people of my age and kind of accomplish things for myself that would benefit my daughter in the end. Trying to work out what I wanted to do, because I hadn’t focussed on myself for so long. You’ve got to kind of step back and think what you did want to do before the children came along. I found a course and then organising with a day care centre what hours she would come and how many days per week and how much it was going to cost; trying to factor that into the budget.
Justin: One advantage, I think, of having my children young is the fact that I know when I get a little bit older all my mates who have been going out now will be having little one year olds running around and I’ve already beat them to it, I’m already five years down the track.
Grace: You know, by the time they go to sleep at night you’re so tired, you kind of just want to veg out in front of the TV, but you’ve kind of got to be a bit strict on yourself and do the study and do the assignments and do the work, because it’s going to pay off in the end.
Rahnia: Take the help that’s offered to you; don’t think you’re superwoman and you can do it by yourself, because you need help, you can’t do it all alone. You’re right and you’re child’s right, forget the world really.