23 Teen Parents Share What It’s Like to Raise Teens of Their Own

Photo Credit: Knowable

Parenting is hard enough at any age, but it’s even more challenging as a teen parent when you’re still in the process of growing up yourself. It requires really speeding up the rate at which you mature since you have people depending on you now.

It’s also gotta be interesting to then have those kids become teens themselves, which is why we asked Redditors who were teen parents to share their experiences.

1. “I did not like being a parent.”

Personally, I did not like being a parent. I don’t feel like I was good at it, and didn’t find any satisfaction or enjoyment in it. So, the teen years were difficult. My two oldest had significant behavioural issues, and my oldest has spent years in prison a couple of different times for drug trafficking, and many more years in juvenile detention for other crimes – theft, and malicious mischief type things.

However, I love being a grandparent. It has been a complete paradigm shift for me. I don’t really know why, but I enjoy spending time with my grandkids, and offer to babysit fairly often. And, I feel like I am young enough to really enjoy the kids without being the old man. I make enough money now to spoil them, have plenty of vacation time to go to the zoo, or Disneyland, or pretty much whatever I want.

My relationship with my two younger kids has significantly improved, but the oldest is still in prison, and completely unwilling to take responsibility for his actions and the danger that he presents to his children, so that relationship is still strained.

2. “My son knows my history…”

It’s pretty sweet actually. My son is 14 and he’s almost 3 inches taller than me now and I’m the cool mom to all his friends. He’s a really good kid and involved in anything and everything he puts his mind to.

I often feel like it’s the payback for enduring the amount of crap society threw my way when I got pregnant with him in high school. Teachers wanting me to drop out… principal not wanting me to walk with my class because it would look bad for the morale (I graduated high school AND college with honors!)

My son knows my history, knows what I went through, and knows what he needs to do to keep it from repeating. He is though above all MY son. He knows that too!

3. “We are, however, the YOUNGEST parents at our school.”

I’m 35 and have a 16 and 14 year old. They are pretty good kids overall – I mean, they are rotten teenagers but that’s to be expected. It is pretty cool that I can still do stuff with them and not seem so out of place. We are, however, the YOUNGEST parents at our school, which is kind of odd for both us and the kids sometimes.

4. “Sometimes I think to myself, I’m way too young for this.”

I had my son at 17 and he’ll be 12 this year. Sometimes it’s hilarious. He thinks my husband and I are ancient at 29 and 32. We like to troll him because we are at least somewhat more familiar with the memes and slang you hip youngsters use these days than we would be if we were, say, 10 years older. I threaten to start liking ‘cool’ things to make them instantly uncool which always gets to him.

On a slightly more serious note, sometimes I think to myself, I’m way too young for this. We are currently going through things like preteen raging hormones and getting him ready for middle school. He’s a good kid but these are not things I envisioned myself dealing with before I even turned 30. It’s isolating sometimes because most people I know with kids the same age are a good bit older and I feel like they don’t always take me seriously. At the same time, I have another baby now and a lot of my friends are having their first kids now so I relate to them in many ways and don’t in many others.

5. “At 44 and 42, we’re empty nesters.”

I was 19, wife was 18. Kids are now 25 & 21. Son just graduated Navy Nuclear Power school (regarded as one of the most difficult curriculum’s in the world). Daughter is married & on her own (no kids).

So sitting at 44 and 42, we’re empty nesters.

6. “We are still young and still cool to her in some ways.”

Not 30 yet but my husband is. I’m 27. We had our first child when I was 16 and he was 18. She is 11 and has that pre-teen thing going on. We have been married 11 years and have a 10, 7, and 2 as well. It is definitely weird sometimes because most of our friends are running around with 1 or maybe 2 kids (toddlers) and our daughter is already wearing a training bra. Some cool things though are that we are still young and still cool to her in some ways. We like video games and “modern” music. However, if I even remotely dance or hint at dancing I get the “omg mom you’re so old. That’s so embarrassing” bit. She occasionally tells us how old and decrepit we are (her word not mine), but she also tells us sometimes how old her friends parents are in ways like.. So and so’s parents are so old…like 45 and old like nana.

7. “You think you’d be generationally closer to them.”

I was 19 when I had my son. You think you’d be generationally closer to them. There is a chasm between a 14 year-old and a 33 year old today. I feel it’s wider than between 14-year old me and a 33 year old then, mostly due to technology.

The years have not been kind, but it’s sort of a blessing that I can pass as early 40’s, I don’t get as much stigma as I used to when he was younger from teachers/Scout Leaders/etc.

I also have 2 small children. I love them dearly, but I will be the parent of an under-18 year old for almost 30 years.

8. “I feel for my friends that are now dealing with their ticking biological clock and fretting about marriage and babies”

I’m 37 with a 16 and 14 year old (and a 9-year old, too). It’s awesome being my age with teenagers. I have tons of energy compared to some of my older counterparts. When I coach my kids’ youth volleyball, basketball or soccer teams, I can still get on the field and play with them. (I absolutely love schooling teenagers). Teachers are usually friendlier to us because they see us as similarly aged. I feel for my friends that are now dealing with their ticking biological clock and fretting about marriage and babies. The biggest negative has been trying to find and develop worthwhile friendships. Most parents tend to create friendships of convenience that center around the age of their kids. Thus, we often feel left out because we’re still pretty young and active, and we don’t fit the mold of the typical parents of a 16 year old. While we didn’t initially plan to be parents as teenagers, I don’t regret it at all. Also, I look forward to seven years from now when my kids will all be out of high school, and we’ll be 44-year old empty nesters.

9. “I just am so happy that I refused to abort her like at least 5 people suggested…”

I got pregnant at 19 and gave birth two months after I turned 20. I’m 29 with a 9 year old now. I am the youngest mom at my kiddo’s school, but only because it’s a beach city and it’s quite pricey to live here. I’m sure if I went inland I would meet younger parents. It’s pretty awesome that when I’m 38 I’ll be done raising kids, provided I don’t have any more. It’s nice to have a 9 yr old because I wake up most mornings with a cup of coffee that she brewed and put honey and milk in for me. We get our nails done together and she’s like a little best friend. She is ridiculously well-behaved and I just am so happy that I refused to abort her like at least 5 people suggested (and 2 offered to pay for!). Her “dad” owes just under $60k in support. He was 19 too and he handled it poorly. Anyway. It’s awesome having a preteen at 29 because she’s like my little buddy and she lights up my life.

10. “I have had people question whether I’m his parent or not mainly because I’m younger.”

I had my son when I was 15, he’s 14 now and I’m 29. Everyone thinks we’re siblings (I look younger than my age, most people think I’m 21-25) so that doesn’t help either. Most of his friends parents are well into their 50’s so I don’t exactly hang out with them or know them real well. I have had people question whether I’m his parent or not mainly because I’m younger. We’ll probably get confused for girlfriend and boyfriend when he’s in his 20s.

11. “The very best thing about having children young is youth itself!”

I’m 59, my daughter is 42, has a 21 year old daughter who has a little boy who is 2, making me a great grandmother. Unbelievable.

This early motherhood string is unique in my family, going back to the mid-18th century, so we’re not living in a van down by the river or anything. I’m a professional person, as are both of my children.

Having a child at 17 isn’t optimal, but it worked out for me. I delayed going back to school till my children were in high school. That was my choice, won’t be right for everyone.

The very best thing about having children young is youth itself! I was young enough (my son was born when I was 21) to play and run and crawl around on the floor and wake up the next day to do it all over. I was 37 when I became a grandmother. I was young enough then to have more fun with my grandchildren than many people are. And I took full advantage of the opportunity. This new one (the 2 year old) pushes my endurance envelope in ways the previous two generations didn’t.

Would I change any of it if I could go back to when I was 16 and not pregnant? Not if it meant missing having these specific people in my life.

It’s tough, though. It’s not all Sesame Street and applesauce, but the good parts are breathtaking.

I’ve lived to love 7 descendants and each one is unique and irreplaceable.

12. “I loved being a young mother. I had energy and enthusiasm.”

I got pregnant with my oldest at 17 and gave birth to her at 18. I had my second child at 23 and my youngest at 25. I’m 40 now, so the kids are 22, 17, and 15.

I loved being a young mother. I had energy and enthusiasm. I wasn’t nearly as cynical and I had more patience.

When I was in my 30’s had a teenager, a pre-teen, and one just a bit younger. My friends and neighbors were just starting their families and were dealing with sleepless nights, spit up, and child proofing the whole block. I was happy to be past all of that mess.

13. “Energy to cope”

I’m 32 and my wife is 36. We have a 16 year old, an 8 year old, a 4 year old and a new born. Ill be honest, having a new baby at this age is exhausting! Yeah it was scary the first time around but we had the energy to cope back then. It does help though that they are all great kids. I have to work pretty hard (anywhere up to 90 hours a week) to keep up with the bills but it allows my wife to stay home so the kids always have one parent around at all times. My father died when I was 7 so hopefully I’ll have more years with my kids than I did with my own dad. If I could give any new parents one piece of advice, buy a dining table. It’s probably the most important thing in our house. Being able to sit down and eat together as a family is what keeps us all sane.

14. “We will have a long time to enjoy our middle years without kids.”

My wife and I are in our mid 30’s and we have 3 teenagers, 17, 14 and 14 (not twins, different marriages). Our oldest graduates this year and I’m excited for her to become an adult and start college. In 4 more years, my kids will all be in college and we will be empty nesters. For some reason that makes me feel awesome because we will have a long time to enjoy our middle years without kids. Obviously, we’ll always be there for our kids as they go through adulthood, but now we can go travel and not have to worry about what we are going to do with the kids.

15. “We go snowboarding together and every year we do stuff in the summer.”

I’m 34 and my daughter is 14. We do all sorts of awesome stuff together. We go bike riding, shopping, we go to gigs together. We like the same music (Maxmo Park is our favourite band), we’ve seen them live, I’ve seen 1D live with her, we’re going to see Neck Deep, quite a few other concerts too.

We go snowboarding together and every year we do stuff in the summer. Last year we done a UK theme park tour which was a blast. We started at Blackpool then headed to Alton Towers before finishing at Thorpe Park. We would have done Flamingo Land but she had been the week before with her mum, Step Dad and brother.

My friends are just starting to have kids or have them who are like 5 years old. I’m 10 years ahead of them and can now go off and do what I want without having the tight seal of responsibility with an ankle biter.

16. “It’s awesome.”

I’m 42 and I’ve got a 23, 20, 14 and 12 year old. It’s awesome. My two oldest ones are out in the real world and are doing well for themselves. The 14 year old can be a pain in the butt just because of teenage junk. He’s a great kid though. Wouldn’t trade him for anything. My youngest has Autism, and I’m not really sure what his future holds right now. Some days we think we’ll have 4 out of the house at one point and other days I’m confident that he’ll be here forever.

17. “It all feels very normal to me.”

I’m 35, my daughter just turned 20 this week. I have an 11 month old grandson. I’m 35.

My wife and I met in high school at 14 and then wouldn’t you know, she got pregnant. Raising a child as a teenager is easy. It’s raising an adult when you’re a teen parent is that’s difficult.

My wife and I are together 21 years later and we have a great family. I didn’t graduate high school, but I’m very successful. We’re not perfect, but we did a good job with our daughter. She is happy, my son-in-law is great, and I’m proud of her.

We also have two sons, 4 and 12. It was like having 3 only children to some extent, and I love the time we got with each of them individually.

I’m not sure what you’re looking for exactly. It all feels very normal to me.

18. “I have been mistaken for an older sister many times.”

Im 28 and my son is 12 this year. Hes a good kid. Respectful and kind, he gets good grades at school and doesn’t give us much trouble. Although it’s weird meeting his friends parents, most are much older then I am. I have been mistaken for an older sister many times. I also waited a long time to have another baby, my youngest son just turned 10 months. The age gap between them is what messes with me, I’m going to have a teen and a toddler.

19. “I think how sad it will be that my son will not be a big brother in a brotherly way […] more like an older cousin thing.”

I had my son when I was 18. He’s now 18. It was strange to be a young mom as he was kid. I remember when he was on a soccer team and his dad recognized one of the other teammates dad. That dad was his middle school PE teacher. That was weird. Besides that unusual moment, having my son early on wasnt that bad. I had my mom help me out (lived at home). My sons dad and I shared custody. We never went to court so that was a major plus in my eyes. My significant other and I will talk about having kids of our own and I think how sad it will be that my son will not be a big brother in a brotherly way. I have a feeling it’ll be more like an older cousin thing.

20. Growing up together

I was 15 when my 1st child was born (a fact I’m not proud of). Literally, one mistake was all it took. I had sex once (I know, likely story, only it isn’t a story, it’s true). By 20, I met my now husband, and he had a daughter the same age as my son. I raised her as my own, as she lost her mother.

Things were okay when they were little. As they grew older, and their problems grew more age appropriate, I realized that I grew up with them, just as much as I raised them.

Both of them left for their freshman year of college last fall. I lost my nerves. I’m not kidding. I cried for months.

We prepared them for an independent life, but forgot to prepare me! I’m now 7 months pregnant with my new baby. They can go ahead and grow up! I have never been much more than their mom. I enjoy being a mom. I’m excited to be starting over.

21. “I’m 38, my son is 20 […] we have basically grown up together.”

I’m 38, my son is 20. I’m stupidly proud of him and since we have basically grown up together, I’m really proud of myself too for raising such a happy, healthy and empathetic young man. There have been difficult times, but we really hit our stride after I graduated from university (he started kindergarten the same time I started uni full time) and have been happily employed since. We have two dogs, a great house to live in and a totally normal family of us two (and the doggies!). We are very close to my family and are just generally normal. Is it weird? Not really, I’m his mum, he’s my kid.

22. “We did have to grow up real fast.”

I had just turned 21 when my daughter was born. Now wife had just turned 18. While not in the whole “teenage” pregnancy problem area, we did have to grow up real fast. The beginning of our relationship, after finding out we were going to have a kid, was filled with a lot of “you are ruining your life” and stuff like that from both side’s parents.

Now that our daughter will be 16 this year, we are starting to freak out because she will be gone soon. It is baffling to think that our daughter will be driving and graduating soon and then off to college. She is going through that teenager stage where you don’t want to do anything with family and would rather hang out with friends. She is “too old” to play silly carnival games at her little brother’s school carnival, although she played last year.

Overall, she is a great kid with a great head on her shoulders. As long as she sticks to her guns, she will be more successful than me and her mother combined. As scary as it is to let her go out into the world, I can’t see me being the dad that would hold her back from her dreams. Now, if I could just get her to study more and actually care about her grades!

23. “At school/sports functions people sometimes think I’m the aunt or the older sister rather than the mom.”

I’m 32 with 14 year old twins. It’s weird. People who meet me at work or other places away from my kids assume that when I talk about my kids, I mean young kids, like under 10. The first time a newish coworker heard my son on the phone, she genuinely thought it was a man calling me and that I was just messing with her saying that it was my teenage son. I’m also told I look about 25-27 rather than 32, so that adds to it.

At school/sports functions people sometimes think I’m the aunt or the older sister rather than the mom. Sometimes meeting another parent, I can definitely see that they’re trying to figure out how old I am (did I have them as a teenager or do I just look really good for my age) and how old I must’ve been when they were born. It’s a little awkward making small talk with people who are 10-20 years older than me all the time, but sometimes it just works: one of my best “parent friends” is a woman in her late 60s (raising her grandson).

My kids, especially my 11 year old daughter, are a little self-conscious about my age. My twins are boys and I know they’d sooner die than tell me this, but I think there’s been a few “the twins’ mom is hot” things. I also took all my kids into a coffee place (I normally stop into this place alone, on my way to work) and the barista made a big fuss over not thinking I was old enough for these to be my kids, and my 11 year old just about died of embarrassment.

24. “It has been kind of a roller coaster.”

I had my oldest when I was almost out of my teens – 2 months from turning 20. She will be 16 next month.

It has been kind of a roller coaster. The first couple of years were hard because I struggled with severe postpartum depression that went undiagnosed until I got into therapy when she was about 18 months old. I missed out on a lot of things while I was sick, including building the parent-child bond that is critical to a baby’s well-being (fortunately my mother was there to hold it together until I got better, but then she was the one who bonded with my daughter in a parental way and reintroducing myself as her mother was an awful hell for all of us).

My relationship with my daughter is pretty fantastic now, though. I remember very clearly what the teenage experience is like and that informs a lot of my interactions with her. I remember just wanting to be treated like a person at her age, instead of everyone demanding that I grow up while not giving me the agency to make my own decisions.

I talk to her as a person, not a child. Some things I keep to myself because they are “need to know”, but I don’t shelter her from the realities of life and how much being an adult can well and truly suck. My parents didn’t do this and I grew up thinking adulthood was a magical fairyland of freedom and money. Being shoved out of the nest at 18 was a very rude awakening.

We share a lot of interests such as music (I introduced her to the Dresden Dolls when she was 5 or so, and she got me into Panic! and Fall Out Boy a couple years ago) and expensive makeup. She and her friends think I’m “cool” or whatever, but I don’t care. I’m not trying to be anybody’s friend. I don’t want that. I can still be a strict mom. I just want to share what I’ve learned since I was her age without a lot of cryptic “you’ll understand when you’re older” spiel. There is some of that, but I’ve discovered it’s far less than my parents led me to believe.