HOUSTON – “Be patient, live your life,” is Greg PUlliam’s advice to teens.
Pulliam knows well that a teen pregnancy will change everything about the way you planned to live it.
The Houston High School graduate learned he would become a father in the fall of his senior year and knew immediately his plans for the future would change.
“I just thought I’d have to go straight to work and not go to college or play ball,” Pulliam said.
He did have the opportunity to continue his education but major lifestyle changes had to occur to provide structure and stability for daughter, Alecia.
“Marty Cooper at ICC got me into work/study,” Pulliam said.
The program, in addition to a basketball scholarship, helped take off some of the pressure of attending the community college, but Pulliam said it wasn’t just extra money to play with. With a baby of his own back home, his role in the family dynamic had changed.
“That was what I used while I was at school,” Pulliam said. “I couldn’t tell my mom, ‘I need this and that,'”
Pulliam played basketball for ICC and Mississippi College but he still didn’t fit the mold of the traditional on-campus student.
“On weekends, I came home,” Pulliam said. “Even when I was at Mississppi College and it wasn’t during the season, I was home every weekend. I wanted to make sure she knew who her daddy was.”
Pulliam readily admits Alecia’s mother and both sets of grandparents were her primary care-givers while he was in college but now it’s his turn.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and is employed as a substitute in the Houston School District while working toward his teacher’s certification. And with Alecia’s mother establishing her own career, “it’s my turn to pick up the slack,” he said.
“During the week, she’s with me,” Pulliam said. “And with Kennyatah on her off days.”
He encourages teens to think ahead and plan for their future and to realize that becoming a teen parent will change everything.
“Having her made me grow up so fast,” Pulliam said. “The things normal kids were doing and having fun, I was responsible for her. Like spring break. All the guys on the (MC) team were going to Panama Beach. I was right here in Houston all week long.”
But he also said adapting the changes brought on by becoming a teen parent has created positive effects, too.
“If I didn’t have her there is no way I would have gradauted college,” Pulliam said. “It wasn’t just me anymore. She made me sure I got my degree.”