Adults who grew up with teen parents have now revealed the impact that having a young mum and dad had on them. And, as with all families, their experiences vary.
In many cases, they grew up to be incredibly close to their parents, becoming friends with them due to their smaller-than-average age gaps.
On the other hand, some people felt their parents weren’t ready to have children and, as a result, felt they were sometimes relied on too heavily to be a friend, rather than a child.
As one person puts it: “It was almost like we all acted the same age. They weren’t very rational like other parents, and it seemed dramatic. At other times, they wanted to be my friend instead of a parent.”
Here, 10 people discuss what it’s like to grow up with a teen parent.
1. “I had one teen parent, the other was a lot older. The teen parent said I got her life together, and she wouldn’t have made it to where she is now without me. We are very close now, even though we don’t live in the same country. I was treated like a friend, and not a kid when I was growing up. I had to witness relationship fails. I can see how much they have changed/grown from teen to adult. I felt like I was born at the wrong time when I’m around my extended family. I was planned, and I wish I wasn’t.”
2. “My mum and dad were 16 and 18 when I was born. My mum came from an abusive home and my dad from a happy home. We had no money, no holidays and struggled to make it through every month but I can say hand on heart that I was loved with everything they had to give, and that meant I had an extremely happy childhood and I was raised to respect people and work hard.
“Now aged 24, we are the best of friends. I talk to both of them about everything. And finally after 28 years together, mum and dad are getting married next month!!”
3. “My MIL (mother in law) was 17 when she had my husband. [His] dad wasn’t around. They were dirt poor but my husband never noticed. She still made sure he could play all the sports he wanted and [had] all the cool clothes he wanted. She always worked two jobs, sometimes three, but still made plenty of time for him. No vacations to Disney. They went camping and fishing... Husband grew up to be the best man I know. MIL and husband are very close.”
4. “My parents were 19. Growing up they worked so hard to make sure we (being my seven siblings, but they are split up, so one of them is my full sister) got all that we needed. My dad worked days and nights trying to start a construction company and my mom worked full time while going to college. Now, 20 years later my dad is a business owner and my mom is one of the top people at an insurance company. Due to both of them being so hard-working and responsible I was privileged with having a stable home. I wouldn’t have wanted to have any other parents. From them being so young I have a really close relationship with both of them and they feel more like friends than anything.”
5. “I was born when my mother was still 17 and my dad had just turned 18. My parents ended up divorcing when I was five years old and they both remarried and had other kids, but I was an only child until I was roughly 11 years old.
“Growing up for me was way different than it was for any of my siblings, not just because of the divorced parents thing but my parents were so young. I remember being 6-8 and my parents being heavily into the popular culture of the time, this was really cool to experience being a kid in the 80s and having my dad into Atari and Nintendo right along with me or my mom being into the music of the time just like any other 22 or 23-year-old.
“My relationship with my parents is great, I definitely have more in common with my dad than I do with my mom but overall I’ve never had a lot of issues with them and now as a guy in my 30s I feel closer to them than any of my other siblings because they’re still in their late teens/early 20s.”
6. “My parents were 19 when they had me, so I’m not sure that counts. But my mom was still in high school when she was pregnant due to generally being a bad kid and taking a year off school.
“I learned a lot sooner than most that parents are just people who don’t really know what they’re doing. We had our fair share of arguments, and in some, she was the one acting like the child and later apologised. It felt more like I was being raised by an older sibling. I still think she shares a little more than is appropriate for parent-child relationships, but so do I, so I roll with it.”
7. “My mother was 14 when she was pregnant with me, 15 when she had me. She had to drop out of university because of me but the cliché just about ends there. She immigrated to the US where even though she couldn’t study medicine like she had in Nicaragua, she was able to study respiratory therapy while she also worked to maintain us, while my aunt baby-sat me. We ended up very prosperous and now I am months away from my US medical license.”
8. “I grew up poor. Like stupid poor. Like I never had new clothes, slept on a pile of blankets, my house was run down with no drywall. When most kids got a car or at least a license for their 16th birthday, I got a plastic tub and a goodwill belt.
“I thought that it was really hard to be middle class and it wasn’t really attainable. Turns out my parents were just shit at being responsible. Now that they’re older, my dad is a sad alcoholic and my mom is a narcissist who I keep in contact with but with boundaries.”
9. “My parents sucked at parenting. They had me at 18. I spent a lot of time with other family members and I lived with my grandparents for a long time. I eventually moved out in high school to live on my own and moved away for college. It wasn’t until my grandparents passed away and I graduated college that I started talking to them more and now we spend time together every few weeks.
“It was almost like we all acted the same age. They weren’t very rational like other parents, and it seemed dramatic. At other times, they wanted to be my friend instead of a parent. This just caused weird trust issues - like they were trying to bait me into telling them stuff about my life and then they would use it against me later. It always felt like they were competing with me too - when I got good grades, got into colleges, graduated, etc. There was always some animosity about how it was my fault they didn’t get those same things at the same point in their life.”
10. “Mother was 17 when she had me, the father was (I believe) around 25 or 26 at that time. Anyway, it was a mixed bag. On the one hand, mother worked a lot to pay the bills, and so I didn’t really see her all that often. On the other, when we were together, she had boundless energy and enthusiasm for the things we did. It wasn’t enough to go to a park, we had to walk all over the park. It wasn’t enough to play tennis (popular at that time), it was tennis for six hours in the blazing sun. She was so very passionate about everything from the TV shows we watched (mash and V) to the games we played.
She always made me feel like, whatever else was going on in her life, I was the most important part of it. I’m 38 now, and I live about 50 feet from her. Wouldn’t change it for anything.”