TEEN PREGNANCY: Preparation key to child rearing

TEEN-Pregnancy-012214-logoHOUSTON – “We make bad parents,” said Shelia Nabors of the Department of Human Services. “It is not our mission to take children away from their parents.”

Nabors is the Community Educator for the region and said the role of DHS is often misunderstood.
“People look at DHS as the bad guys,” Nabors said. “But we have services we can provide like parenting classes. If a teen thinks she’s pregnant, we can tell them where to go to find out and we have a list of parenting resources and referrals, like the Family Resource Center.”
Nabors said the goal of the department is to assist parents to be able to maintain their families without intervention.
But she has seen the other side of the coin as well and knows education and training are key to good parenting.
“Children don’t come with instructions,” Nabors said. “A lot of times there is a cycle. We parent the way we were parented and that’s just the good, the bad and the nasty.”
Children come into the DHS system through abuse or neglect.
“When there is a lack of the protective capacity it becomes an issue,” Nabors said. “But abuse and neglect is a cycle sometimes and no one is looking out for the child. When we have a child whose parent is not providing protection, then we try to work with the extended family and ask them, ‘Can you help?’ If they can step in and help, then things are good. If no one in the family can step in, then the child can come into foster care.”
Nabors gave an illustration of a scenario where a family member can make a difference.
“If you have a mom who is 32 and a teen mom, her daughter, who is 16, do the math,” Nabors said. “If they don’t have a good relationship, there may be an aunt or cousin who is responsible and can help.”
Nabors said parents and community members should be aware of some of the reasons behind teen pregnancy.
“Are we, as parents or the community, judging these young ladies without knowing if they are victims of abuse, rape or incest?” Nabors said. “If you have a child of 12 who is pregnant, where was that parent when that child had time to have sex? That’s neglect.”
Nabors said sometimes intervention is needed to break a cycle of neglect and abuse and to teach parents a different system of parenting.
“The best two things you can give children are roots and wings,” Nabors said. “You plant the foundation, teach and educate them and then trust that they will take off. But sometimes that just doesn’t happen.”

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