Being a parent comes with beauty, tears and at times struggles and for young people it can sometimes feel like "the world is over", especially when they have no support from friends or family.
I remember back in high school, my friends and I never planned on having a family while being young and for some of us, having a whānau came a lot earlier than intended.
It is a beautiful thing to share in a friendship, having a bond like whānau as you get crowned an "Aunty".
It can also be really difficult, especially on a young person's social wellbeing. You could imagine, young and fun, living their best life and along comes another milestone when you are with child.
After consultation, I've found that young people were quite "shocked" to find out about the abortion legislation coming into force with new changes in early March 2020.
A lot of concern was raised by youth, in particular to this specific change in legislation: "A qualified health practitioner may provide abortion services to a woman who is more than 20 weeks pregnant if they reasonably believe that the abortion is clinically appropriate in the circumstances." - Abortion legislation, Ministry of Health.
Angst and worry were heightened, as new mothers find it challenging to come to terms with this legislation.
Before parenthood, life for young people is very different and adjusting isn't always easy.
He Matariki provides a teen parent school service in Whangārei and it's amazing! I've had some of my own friends from high school go through the school and achieve great things for themselves and their new whanau.
He Matariki Teen Parent School provides a space for parents to learn and grow while their children are being taken care of. It provides safety and comfort to both parent and baby.
Piper Yearbury, 16 years old, is engaged with He Matariki Teen Parent School at the moment and spoke with Josephine, a Whangārei Youth Space youth worker, about her journey as a young parent.
"I was 14 years old when I got pregnant. It was a shock. At first everyone was disappointed, they wanted more for me. But soon after my family started to support me.
"It was still hard so I just up and left high school without telling anyone. I felt that my high school friends just didn't understand, I felt left out and different," Piper said.
This is a result for many young people who aren't well supported by family and friends. Academia seems at times impossible while you're focusing on raising a family.
A massive struggle for young people is their social wellbeing and feeling isolated from the "social-norm" for their age.
"My friends were out doing fun things and I was at home folding baby clothes."
As you could imagine, it can weigh heavily on a young person and it's essential to make sure they are still able to do some of the things they would've done before.
Many young people have this idea that, "oh no, my life is over" once they have a baby and fortunately, for some this isn't the reality.
Parents coming through are finding employment, hobbies, social circles and support groups, which is amazing and essential for the community.
"I feel like becoming pregnant as a teenager kinda made me grow as a person, seeing a different outlook in life," Piper said.
"If I could give advice to other teens who are pregnant it is that, it's about what you think and what you want, not what others around you want.
"It's a start of a new journey. The stereotypes of teen mums are wrong. We are actually productive, strong young women, living our best lives for us and our baby."
Though Whangārei does have amazing services like He Matariki Teen Parent School, young people highlight the need for more support for young parents throughout the entire pregnancy.
In saying that, even smiling at the next young parent you see can make a big difference!
Make an impact
Calling out Youth Advocates! Passionate about an issue facing youth in Whangārei? Make an impact by sharing your story, you are important and you deserve to be heard. Email Anahera@youthspace.co.nz.
• Anahera Pickering is community outreach co-ordinator at Whangārei Youth Space. She can be contacted at Anahera@youthspace.co.nz .