by Cheryl Jackson Tuesday October 28, 2008

Unless you've been avoiding the news, you know that teens are having babies. Think of Bristol Palin, 17-year-old daughter of VP Candidate, Sarah Palin. She's having her baby sometime before the end of this year. Or "Zoe 101" star, Jamie Lynn Spears, a mom at 17 and apparently pregnant again.

Now these two are somewhat unique in the teen parent world in a couple of ways. One, they appear to have the financial and family support to help them as they take on their immense responsibilities as parents. Two, the fathers of their babies have stuck around, and will probably be there for their child. This is not always the way it works for teen parents.

Teen moms are often single, with little or no family support. It's tough for them to finish high school and get further education when they've got a baby to take care of, and probably a job, too. And with all that on their plate, how do they provide a nurturing, supportive environment that allows their child to thrive and succeed?

A recent Statistics Canada survey, however, called "Life After Teenage Motherhood", makes an interesting observation. It points out that teenage mothers and adult mothers with similar levels of education had similar labour market participation and rates of living in low income. In other words, it's education that determines a mother's financial success and independence, not the age at which she had her child.

That means one of the many things teen parents need is access to education. They need to be able to at least finish high school and even better, go on to post-secondary education. That's the best thing they can do to ensure their children's success.

Watch Your Voice on Tuesday, October 28. We've invited a fabulous teen mom to give us the straight talk on what it's like to be a young mom and what she needs to give her son a good life. We'll hear from Bonnie Tytel, who works with teen parents  and their children all day long at the June Callwood Centre in Toronto, and understands their needs better than anyone. And Andrea O'Reilly will be here. She's a dynamo Associate Professor in the School of Women's Studies at York University and will help us explore the bigger issues of mothering in our society. It promises to be an informative and very interesting discussion. I hope you'll join us.