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Girl Talk: Teen Mom Blues

Q. I'm only 19, and most of the other mothers I meet in the park or at daycare are much older. Sometimes I get the vibe that they assume my baby was an "accident"... and they usually treat me like I don't know anything about being a parent. I think I'm doing a really good job with my 11-month-old daughter. How can I convince everyone else?

A.
I don't doubt that the other moms are giving you a funny vibe because of your age. But guess what? It doesn't matter if you're 19 or 29. The oldest mother on any scene will see her age as an advantage. It's human nature -- well, it's my nature anyway.

I often catch myself looking at clearly capable 30-year-olds (!) and reasoning that they have energy but I have wisdom. I tell myself that because it makes me feel better. I did the same thing when I used to be the youngest mom on my block, except then I would concoct laughable lines like, "Sure, you may have a hefty retirement account, but I still have an active metabolism."

Insecurity ain't pretty, is it?

The point is, why even bother trying to change my elderly mind or anyone else's? My opinion doesn't affect your child, or you for that matter. And attempting to convince everyone else that you know what you're doing is a waste of time. First, no one really believes they have it all figured out (even moms who have an advice column), so saying that you do will raise eyebrows. And second, those other moms are so busy parenting their own children, they won't care to listen.

That said, it's foolish to dismiss anyone who doesn't give you props on your parenting from the start. Everyone has a natural tendency to judge other people. Give these women a chance to overcome that tendency, and then ditch the ones who really have a persistent attitude problem. Life is too short to do anything else. Talk about wisdom for the ages!

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