An Open Letter to Every Teen Mom
1985 was the day that changed my life!
My Junior year of high school was one of the most terrifying years of my life. I was preparing to go away to college on a possible track scholarship when I realized something was changing in my body. In particular, I was sleeping more often It didn’t really even occur to me that I might be pregnant, but all the signs were there.
One day, I skipped track practice to go home so I could rest. On that same day my aunt Cheryl was home from work. She blurted out to my mom, “That girl is pregnant. She’s sleeping a lot.” My mom asked, “Do you think you’re pregnant?” Me, looking dumb, shrugged my shoulders.
My mom’s response was priceless. She said, “Go to Planned Parenthood and get tested.”
That was the longest walk.
Planned Parenthood gave me a pregnancy test and prenatal exam. I was 15 weeks pregnant by their estimation. There was no big decision for me to make, I was keeping my baby who is now my brainiac talented thirty-nine year-old son and College graduate.
I would love to say that my family was super supportive, and everything was easy, but that would not be entirely true.
At first my mother was upset, disappointed, and rightly so. She came around eventually, but my mom and my aunties Ronnie and Cheryl believed that my dad would strangle me.
My aunties grabbed me before my father returned home from his fishing trip to provide me with options if my dad decided to strangle me. It was the funniest thing.
My mom said, I ain’t telling him nothing! You and your boyfriend will tell him.
My aunties said, “if he strangle you then I should call the police. They knew my dad would not strangle me, but they wanted me to be prepared, because they were fully aware that my dad shared with all of his children that after we completed high school then college.
My parents, like most black parents believed that education was an opportunity to grab hold of the American Dream. Moreover they believed that education and social mobility were inevitably linked. Racial gaps in education, employment and wealth reflect the disproportionate representation of black families at the bottom of the income scale, but education was believed ti be the key to push against the current barriers that existed for black families in America.
My pregnancy would be viewed as a threat to my education and laying a hold onto the American dream. The good news is that my parents partnered with me to ensure college and the American dream could be actualized.
Together, we turned this so-called barrier into an opportunity.
As my aunties were teaching me Bruce Lee karate moves before dad arrived home.
I asked my aunties, “y’all call the police if I’m strangled.”
They responded, “we are not sticking around while you give dad the information.”
They didn’t leave, but they stood by my side until my boyfriend and I shared the pregnancy with my dad.
My dad response shocked us all!
My boyfriend decided he would share the news with my dad. Before he could say a word said, “I know.” He asked my boyfriend, “Did you tell your parents?” If not, call them now, and the rest was history. My parents decide to help raise my son by allowing me to attend college at Kansas State University.
We were shocked!
My dad seemed genuinely happy to have a new baby in the family when I first announced my pregnancy. Of course, once my son was born everyone was in love with him. My dad said, I have a fishing partner. My son was the first grandchild all around, and everyone spoiled him, which was helpful because I was broke teen mom and my son needed so much stuff.
My Griffin’s personal story is one of transformative change. A former teenage mother who has faced more than her share of adversity, she overcame the odds:
Statistics on Teenage Pregnancy
- Teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of high school – fewer than 2% earn a college degree by age 30.
- Children of teen mothers do worse in school than those born to older parents they are 50% more likely to repeat a grade, are less likely to complete high school than the children of older mothers, and have lower performance on standardized tests.
Tunya turned her lemons into lemonades:
In 2009, Tunya earned a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management|Roberts Wesleyan College
In 2013, Tunya earned a Master of Divinity at Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan
In 2021, Tunya earned a Doctor of Divinity at Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan
In 2023, Full Circle
Dr. Griffin’s Aunt Ronnie Moton that helped prepare to tell her dad about the pregnancy rediscovered her passion for crocheting baby items.
Shop For A Cause: Supporting Teen Moms
INTRODUCING THE FLAWED IMPERFECTIONS CROCHET COLLECTION: BY Ronnie A. Moton handcrafted designs transcends beyond’ threads. Ronnie Moton is heightening the artistic nature of her collection Paying attention to the details of the lives of those she encounters on a daily basis. “I intentional add flaws weaved into the design, because my designs are a reminder that your flaws are perfect for you. Embrace them, and love who you are even with your flaws and all, says Auntie Ronnie Moton.