Help for parents is available at Parenting Now!
In honor of Mother’s Day, Parenting Now! wanted to give particular honor to those young teens and single moms who are so courageous and tenacious in pursuing the best for their children and themselves.
In 1987 I was a typical teenager. A high school sophomore engaged in leadership, cheerleading and managing an active social life. By the end of 1987, I was taking my last final at the LCC High School completion program while I was in labor. The next day, on Nov. 7, 1987, I joined the ranks of many others as a teen parent.
The following January I started as a freshman at the University of Oregon with an 8-week old baby in my arms. My life was on an accelerated path, and I was hanging on for dear life. I moved out on my own, learned to cook, manage finances and parent very quickly. I have to admit, none of these things was being done superbly.
About a year into parenthood, I was attending school full time, working (for $3.24 an hour) as a grocery checker in the evenings, driving to pick up my son each night at my parents’ house and then coming home and studying late into the night. To this day, I still can’t seem to work on professional projects before 10 p.m.!
While I was working at the grocery store, there was this amazing family who would come to the store and always came through my checkout line. Anita and her kids would make small talk with me and were definitely a bright spot in my day. Little did I know that she was working her magic to recruit me into Parenting Now! (then called Birth To Three). She started with a soft sell, “So I have this group…” I’d always smile and politely decline. After all, I was working my heinie off NOT to be considered a statistic of the 1980s teen parent explosion. Why would I want to go to a SUPPORT group for young parents?!
Anita (Quincy-Huffman, program manager of Make Parenting A Pleasure at Parenting Now!) is a bright woman though. She figured out that I did need support and so she tempted me with college credit and asked me to come intern with her. The hook was set. From this point on, I had a rich and productive relationship with Parenting Now! as both a parent and professional. I gained lifelong friendships with like-minded young parents, lessened the isolation that I had been feeling as a young mother and learned how to advocate for my child and myself. I soaked up everything that I could get my hands on to learn to be a great mom. Being a teen mother actually demands that you excel at the job for fear of reprisal or action from everyone from the grandma at the grocery store to your Social Service caseworker.
Over time I declared my major in Human Services at the University of Oregon and interned with Parenting Now!’s Make Parenting A Pleasure program. I was a 20-year-old teaching parenting classes to court-mandated families …. And I LOVED learning, growing and supporting others. The time I spent with Parenting Now! informs the work I do now with vulnerable students at the University of Oregon.
Today, I have been married for 25 years and have a successful 20-year career in higher education helping students access their professional and life goals. Most importantly though, I have three wonderful children who are 28, 22 and 18 years old and who are all in college. My amazing oldest son, Travis, is in graduate school, works a full-time job and maintains a healthy loving relationship. He and my other children are my pride and joy. Far more than any professional success I have experienced, the fact that I was able to leverage the support and skills shared with me through Parenting Now! into a growing a healthy family means the most to me.
Kelly Warren has been a resident of the Eugene community since 1987. She attended the University of Oregon as have her husband, Estin, and her three children, Travis Evans, Reily Warren and Cody Warren. She currently works at the University of Oregon in the Family and Human Services Program. Parenting Now! is a nonprofit offering groups and workshops so that all children are raised by nurturing, skilled parents. Contact Parenting Now! at www.parentingnow.org, on social media and at 541-484-5316.