“The Exception To The Rule”

I recently scored what I thought was a victory for the name of young parents everywhere. After having my daughter at the age of nineteen and halfway through university, I found out I would be graduating on time, with no less than a first class honours degree. I thought it was another step of progress; another step towards people realising that young mums don’t fit the stereotype they’ve diligently believed for all these years.

But apparently, I’m ‘the exception to the rule’. My achievement means nothing in the grand scheme of things, because I will always be a young mum, and young mums will always be incapable of achieving.

I don’t know what the ‘rule’ is, but I think it goes something like this – young woman, no matter how clever, ambitious and ‘normal’ (although in the majority of cases they must be uneducated and perceived as promiscuous) gets pregnant and must immediately conform to society’s idea of what a young mum is – a layabout with no intention of working, who claims benefits and spends it on alcohol and cigarettes, before having several more children with different fathers. The young woman must follow this formula to keep society happy. Society then criticises the woman for scrounging, for being a ‘slut’, for wanting kids for the free council house (excuse me while I wet myself laughing; they don’t hand out keys to a three-bed semi in your Bounty Pack, you know…).

When a young woman defies or breaks free of that cycle, as so very many of us have done and continue to do so, it’s too difficult for society to wrap its pretty little head around the idea that maybe, just maybe, they got things wrong. Each and every successful young mum is an ‘exception to the rule’.

It’s easy to read this and think nah, she’s just perceiving herself as being seen this way, but people have told me as much. It’s clear that they think I have broken some kind of ‘Young Mum Commandment’ in continuing with my education (FYI, we don’t have commandments. Or a club, or some kind of chat page where we rub our hands with glee at all the money we get and all the men we sleep with. Sorry to burst your bubbles).

The honest truth is that I’m not an exception to the rule, because there’s no rules in the first place. Young mums and young parents are exceeding expectations every day. Take the general perception that young mums can’t parent properly – their children are neglected, or the grandparents do all the work. My partner and I have lived away from our parents for the last two years; we raise our daughter alone – we are doing that every single day, and I know that we are far from alone in that.

When a young parent makes the decision to have another child, I consider that a victory for young parents too. It is a young person making the conscious decision to have the family they want, at the time they want, without bowing to these pressures put on us. To have one child young is considered careless, to have another at a young age is more often described with words that aren’t suitable for a post like this. But there’s nothing reckless or stupid about it – I have so much respect for the young parents out there who are confident and make the decision to expand their families, putting what is right for them ahead of what society thinks they should do.

The same goes for young parents who continue with their education. I know I’m biased, as I did that myself, but it took so much gritting my teeth and forcing myself through it when all I wanted to do was get out of a lecture and run to the nursery, pick up my five month old daughter and cuddle her, but I did it, and it is one of my proudest achievements, and is paying off now that I am working and bringing in money for her.

And for those who choose to leave education – that’s a victory too. It is young people, the young people society makes out to be so reckless and irresponsible as to get pregnant and have children young, making responsible decisions that work for their family. These are victories, each and every one, because we are young parents, not waiting around for life to throw our next opportunity at us, but going out and finding it ourselves, each in our own way.

And do you know what? Being a young person is tough. Being a parent is tough. We’re combining the two and dealing with a whole barrage of ‘tough’ – and if we stumble, we’re failing, exactly what everyone expects us to do. If we succeed, it means nothing – we’re not like those ‘other’ young mums. What they don’t realise is that these ‘other’ young mums don’t exist. They’re fictional caricatures.

The reality of being a young parent? Trying to write an essay while your toddler taps the + key incessantly to add unwanted symbols to your critical analysis of Ibsen and Ayckbourn. Juggling a baby and a toddler in the supermarket and trying to avoid the dirty looks all around you. Trying somehow to please everyone, when your friends want you to be ‘the old you’, and your baby needs ‘the new you’.

We do this all and more.

We aren’t exceptions to the fictional rule. We smash the rule each and every day. To voice your pride is taboo; you aren’t supposed to be proud of being a young parent. It’s supposed to be taboo; something you suffix with ‘ – but I stayed in education’, or ‘ – but the father and I are still together’, in order to convince people that you’re not one of those usual teenage mums – you’re an exception to that rule.

I think we’ve had just about enough of that. We should be standing up and saying no; actually, there is no rule. Each and every one of us isn’t ‘the good kind’ of young parent – we’re all young parents, and we’re all pretty damn excellent at what we do. It’s about time we stood up and took pride in what we’ve achieved – proving that anything other people can do, we can do it, have done it, and continue to do it every day, whilst simultaneously raising pretty awesome tiny human beings. That’s pretty exceptional, and makes me pretty damn proud to call myself a young parent.

July 2015

Maddy tweets at @maddyleigh1994

You could offer me a million pounds and I will still choose young parenthood!

Hi! My name is Lettie and I am 21 years old. I am not your regular 21 year old. I am one of the luckiest 21 year olds as I get to be called Mummy by three beautiful children. Yes, I know the baby can’t talk but still!

I first became a mother to Zachary aged 18, back in 2012. Soon after came Henry in 2013, followed by Elsie in 2014. I am engaged to my children’s father and we are due to be married in August after 4.5 years together.

Recently life got a bit exciting. I saw an advert on twitter for a casting call looking for mums and mums to be aged 16-21. I thought why the hell not and applied for the TV show. I got a phone call later to fill in the application form and ask some questions.

I then didn’t hear anything for a few weeks and had another phone call from the TV company asking if we were still interested and if we could skype the next day.

So the next day we did our skype chat with the TV company. Throughout this I had Elsie (then 3 months) on my lap the whole time! The skype chat would then be shown to the producers.

A few weeks went by and we heard nothing. I honestly thought they hadn’t picked us, began to forget about it and move on with life. One day I was actually in the car coming back from the doctors when I got a phone call from one of the show’s producers. They said they would love to come and film with us and gave us a weeks notice!

I had a rough idea of what we were being asked to do and what they wanted to achieve. I personally feel as a young/teenage mum that people easily judge you and just class you as a statistic, when that is completely uncalled for. Everyone’s situation is different and I knew that this show was set out to prove that.

So we skip forward a few days and filming began. It was much more intense than I expected but the crew were such lovely genuine people, just like the casting team and producers we had spoken to so far were.
They basically followed us through our day but did ask us to talk about certain things and do certain things.

I wanted to make sure that we hopefully portrayed ourselves well. Showing that although we are young we are mature, good parents who are capable of supporting themselves and their family.

Friday and the second day of filming began. This day was more focused on me and the responsibilities that come with being a young mum and how that makes me feel along with the stigma. I personally feel judged against as even though my partner works a full time job he works shifts so is around a lot in the day depending on what shift he is working. I feel that people seeing us walking down the street and just automatically assume that we are young parents on benefits popping out kids for money/house or whatever reason they are thinking. When it’s not like that at all!

In this day of filming they sent me and my partner on a date. This was the first time we had been out since November 2013! We had such an amazing night and it made us realise that we need to take more time for ourselves as a young couple rather than ‘mum and dad’. It was lovely for one night to feel like a young couple just enjoying some food and drinks like most 21&25 year old couples do! Of course, mum and dad duties were still going on though. This was the first time I had left Elsie and after messages to the baby sitter I began to relax.

It’s really hard to try and get some time away from the kids especially when some months money can be tighter than others. They are my top priority so they always have what they need and more. If we can’t have one night for a meal that month then that’s fine. As long as my children are happy, healthy and not wanting for anything then that makes me happy.

Sunday was day three of filming. During interviews in previous filming we had talked about me wanting to work my way back up and be a midwife. So we took the boys to the library and I wrote out a CV while looking after a 3 year old and a 2 year old! Let’s just say they were being ‘lively’ and I actually found the whole scenario really stressful. Trying to do 100 things at once is really hard!

Overall though I found filming the TV doc a really really positive experience and I do not have a bad word to say about it.

I’m hoping that by allowing the camera and crew into our lives it will show the true reality of what it is like to be young parents in Britain today.

Yes, it is hard to be a thriving young parent, it’s very hard when you face a constant battle of trying to defend yourself from a constant stream of judgement, critical opinions and being labelled as a ‘ statistic’ but you know what? I would not change anything for the world. You could give me a million pounds and I will still choose young parenthood, my three beautiful babies and my amazing supportive partner over everything. I have no regrets about that path I took and we are only getting stronger better and more wise.

July 2015

Lettie tweets at @head_lettie

10 things you shouldn’t say to a young parent

Being a young parent comes with so many good points. Being able to watch your child grow older, understanding some of that new fangled fancy lingo they are coming out with, surviving on no sleep.

But it also comes with a wealth of judgement and whispers. You get people come up to you on the street, ask you questions and be negative about your situation.

Unless you know that young person you have no right to make those judgements. So here are 10 things to not say to a young parent.

1: “What a waste of your future, didn’t you want to travel/get an education/get a good job?” Oh how fickle people are. Having a child does not waste your future. It simply changes the course slightly. Having a child young doesn’t mean someone can’t travel, get an education and a good job. Many young mums are teachers, business women and even politicians! Some even have degrees!

2: “Did you do it for the council house and benefits dear?” Wow, yes. I definitely chose to bring a child into the world so I could secure a house and benefits on the state. Umm if you didn’t realise we are in a housing crisis! Less than 1% of council homes are occupied by parents under the age of 25! I definitely was expecting a council house with those statistics.

3: “Is the father still around?” I mean that’s not something that is said to a 30 year old mum so why does it get said to a young parent? So what if one parent is or isn’t involved? Yes there is a lot of single parent households. Not all of them are young parents though.

4: “But you look so young, you’re only a child yourself!” I think my reproductive system says otherwise. I’m old enough to get married, vote, drive a car, live alone, have a job. I’m pretty sure I’m old enough to have a child.

5: “You don’t do it like that, you should really do it like this” When it comes to parenting everyone does it differently. As long as you are not hurting or putting your child at risk then you should be left alone! WE DONT ALL PARENT THE SAME.

6: “I bet you leave your child and go out each weekend” First of all, what a parent does in their spare time is none of your business. If they want to go out, then as long as their child is being cared for and they have some spare money then why shouldn’t they! I know personally I’ve not been out for so long I can barely even remember it. But I do enjoy a good glass of wine and a movie.

7: “Didn’t she know about contraception” This is a touchy subject for me. I was on contraception when I got pregnant. Many girls and women are. The one thing that needs to be noted is education. Sexual health and awareness education is so low for young people that it’s barely non existent. I didn’t know about contraception, stis, implications of pregnancy. I didn’t even know wheat to do when I found out I was pregnant. What these girls need is an education. Not a lecture.

8: “Why don’t you get a job instead of rinsing the benefits system” In a world where it’s hard to get a job for a graduate, it’s even harder for a young parent. With rising childcare costs, lack of support and minimum wage not being a living wage, it’s easy to see how a mum can get lost and not know where to start. A support system for young parents, from education through to the workplace needs to be there in some capacity. They need help as much as the others wanting a job.

9: “You look young enough to be her brother/sister” I’m going to take that as a compliment even though you meant it as an insult. If I can still look young with these eye bags and this saggy body then I must be doing something right honey?

10: “You’re doing so much better than the other young mums, at least you are doing something with your life” See there is my problem. All young mums are doing something with their life. Whether that be working, studying or something else. They are still doing something. They are raising children! That is a bloody hard job and that needs to be applauded too. So if you’re going to give me a pat on the back can you give a pat to all the young parents?

Laura tweets from @maxandmummyblog
Originally posted on Max and Mummy

A young mum. My story.

I never expected to be a young mum, damn I never imagined myself even being a mum. I was one of those girls at school that everyone said wouldn’t be a teen mum, I was too good for that. But at 19, I fell pregnant.

Most people see 19 and think, well you are old enough to get married, have a house, have a job, why not a baby. But I was at the end of my first year of uni, had been with Scott less than a year when I realised that I was pregnant.

We were being safe. I was on the pill, I had been on it for years. Religiously taking it as if it was an extension of myself. But for one week I was also taking some tablets for a chest infection. The doctor never told me that it could mess with my pill so I didn’t think anything of it. 5 months later and I started getting horrendous headaches and stomach cramps. After thinking things through I tell Scott that I’m coming off the pill and we would need to use alternate contraception.

A month had passed and I still hadn’t got my period. So I thought I would pick up a test. Freaking out that I had messed something up as I was coming off the pill. When those two blue lines appeared I broke down. I didn’t know what to do or say. I called Scott in tears and drove all the way down to Portsmouth to tell him. His family guessed almost straight away and within 24 hours my mum knew too. We were both 20, at uni and pregnant.

We decided to go to the family planning clinic with my mum, talk things through there and decide what the best thing for us to do was. When they got me up to give me an ultrasound they gave me the shock of my life “You’re about 6 months pregnant, did you know that?”. Cue another breakdown from all of us. Not only was I pregnant. But I had 3 months to decide what the hell I should do. None of us knew how we hadn’t noticed. I’d gone up a dress size but put that down to eating rubbish and going out at university. Not being pregnant!

After sitting with Scott for what felt like days we decided we had to keep this child. it was given to us for a reason and we would love it and bring it up as best as we damn could. It took both sets of parents a while to come to terms. Of course it would, we were young, in our prime and all of a sudden expecting a child that was going to change our lives. I remember my mum coming home one day with a packet of baby grows and giving me a hug. Chatting with her friends at work they had reassured her that it wasn’t a bad thing, amongst all the death she dealt with, we were bringing new life into the world and it was a blessing.

Next thing we knew we were in a whirlwind of appointments, scans and checks. Thankfully everything was perfect. We got told we were having a girl, but still picked out neutral stuff. I’m definitely not a pink girl! (we all know how that turned out!)

Within a fortnight we had deferred a year of uni, sorted out maternity/paternity leave and found a place to live. It was as if we were on fast forward and it was only getting faster. We went on a long weekend to Disneyland Paris which did us the world of good. Our last chance at being us before we were parents. That’s not to say we didn’t still do what we wanted. 2 days before Max was born we went to a gig. I’m pretty sure that put me into labour.

I’d already decided that my mum and Scott were to be in the room with me. I didn’t know how he would react to all the pain I would be in and I knew that my mum would be a calming influence on the room. Luckily I had a swift labour and he was born in a few hours. When we all realised our little girl was actually a boy I think we were just as shocked as when we found out I was expecting!

It’s been tough being a young mum. I’ve had jeers and stares, comments and murmurs about how I’ve done it for benefits. What surprises most people is that we are both working, have degrees and not in a council house. Yes we get help but 99% of it is done ourselves. Having Max made us more focused and determined to succeed.

I ended up in a deep swing of postnatal depression. Looking back now it was because our life was on fast forward. It’s only been since I was out of uni that I’ve managed to slow it down. Take everything in and relax. I’ve learnt to love being a mum, be proud to be a young parent and want to empower more young mums to feel the same. We aren’t the stereotype, in fact none of us are. We are all banishing those stereotypes in one way or another.

Honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way now. We have our own family of 3 and we are perfect that way. Being a young mum was one of the best turning points in my life. I love Max and I can’t wait to see him grow up.

Laura tweets from @maxandmummyblog

Originally posted on Max and Mummy

Young Mums go to the House of Commons!

Yesterday The Young Motherhood Project was shown at the House of Commons, and a number of young mums went down to the engage with MPs about challenging the myths around young motherhood!

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You can watch coverage of it here – We had a great Young Mums Chat on Twitter the night before where we discussed the myths, the difference made by sharing stories and what messages we want to get across to MPs. Here are a selection of some of the fab tweets:

ans 1: people tend to believe that having a baby at a young age guarantees a failed future for the young person which is wrong

that and also to ‘trap’ their boyfriends. Hate it when I hear this comment from people.

it takes a lot of courage for a 15 or 16 yrs old to be at school while pregnant because of all the judgement!

I also got told by my head of course as a young mum I should quit uni as I wouldn’t succeed. There’s no support.

young mothers =holy grail of scape goating because they usually tick more than one box in society’s stigma checklist

ppl get inspired by talking to ppl who have been in the same situation as them and think if they can do it then so can i

Support them in education.I had so little help when at uni&would have been better off at home.Makes no sense!

stop making out like young mums are the root of all evil?! Sick of being stereotyped & punished for being young!

need policy makers to have direct engagement w/parents & professionals to see what is missing

Jendella did such a brilliant job of representing young mums and answering some tricky questions! The two MPs, Teresa Pearce and Kate Green, were also pretty inspiring to listen to, especially hearing about Teresa’s own experience as a young single mum. Thank you too for giving me an opportunity to have a few words!

Here is a copy of my speech below:

“I was 16 when I found out I was pregnant. I had already left home to live with my boyfriend and had become quite isolated from my friends. When we found out I was pregnant the first thing my boyfriend  said to me was ‘well, you’ll have to leave college now then’

So I went into college to tell my tutor I was leaving – I could have easily just dropped out and not gone back, maybe a different tutor would even have encouraged this, but she gave me the confidence to go back to my boyfriend and tell him I wasn’t leaving college. She spoke to my teachers and adjusted by time table to ensure I could stay, she encouraged me to tell my parents I was pregnant who turned out to be my biggest support. And that was exactly what I needed at the time; someone who recognised it wasn’t the end of the world and that actually things would be ok.

After college I went straight to uni and later while working I studied for an MSc. I was lucky I’d had my tutor and my parents who supported me. But I knew the way people looked at me when they found out I was a young mum, and it does affect your confidence and how you see yourself and decision you make about asking for help or speaking up. Occasionally people said I was the exception to the rule, while allowed them to continue looking down on other young mums.

For my dissertation I wanted to study  transitions made by young mothers. The young mums I interviewed had all created their own different pathways, negotiating families and studying and careers but they all faced some levels of discrimination for being young either by professionals, or through being rejected by their friends and families, which made life harder than it needed to be. Yet my supervisor at uni told me that their stories weren’t true! A middle-aged white middle class male said that their stories were wrong, that there wasn’t a problem with how young mothers were treated, the implication being that the problem was young mothers themselves.

There can be an assumption that other people understand the lives of young mothers more than we do, that young motherhood must be the problem because that’s what the statistics say.  But that’s not actually what the statistics say at all. If you look at long-term outcomes of teenage mothers who were born in 1970, then by age 30 their employment, income and education are not significantly different for those who were teenage mothers to those who miscarried in their teens and didn’t become young mothers.

The proportion of births that are to women under 20 are now the lowest they have been since around 1947. But as numbers reduce the stigma seems to increase and there is a growing perception that parents under 20 are not emotionally mature enough to raise a child, despite it being quite acceptable a few generations ago (so long as you were married at the time!)

The young parents I know are now teachers, professors, midwives, social workers, civil servants. They are also amazing parents and role models to their children and others. If we share these real stories then we can challenge the myths that girls get pregnant so they can live their whole lives on benefits and that they are a problem to be solved. If we share our stories maybe other new young parents will know that their lives aren’t over too.

No one dares talk about how there are actually many positives of being a young mum, the fact we live longer with our children, we don’t interrupt a career, we are more responsible and focused and motivated from an earlier age.

Policy makers need to listen to young parents and directly engage with them about their aspirations  and the barriers that are being put in their way, from lack of childcare at uni, to bullying from peers, to being asked informally to leave college because their pregnancy doesn’t give the right message to other pupils.

It’s important too that we listen to those who were young parents to ensure that the pathways they negotiated are still available for young parents now, and we’re not writing them off before their journeys even began. Policy makers need to put aside their fear of promoting teenage pregnancy and instead recognise that supporting and believing in young mothers is probably the best investment you can make.”

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We are dreamers. We are achievers. We are young mums.

People always judge mothers. But why put down the younger mothers even more? Why labelling all young mothers as benefit seekers, good-for-nothing and waste of space? Are people having that perception on young mothers because the media only concentrates on the minority who do such things? What about the hard working inspiring majority of young mums? Why doesn’t the media or general public want to see how the majority of young mum love and so? Because we are no different to them? Because we are too normal?

Hi. My name is Sophie. I’m 26. Wife, graduate, clinical trial officer, volunteer. Oh! And 1 more thing! I’m a YOUNG mum! Yes a young mum!” But.. But.. How can you do all these things and be a young mum” I hear you say! “Young mums just sit around home all day watching Jeremy Kyle and wasting tax payers money while their kids are vandalising something” I hear you say that too! Well…you got it completely wrong! I belong to the majority of young mums who are doing something with their lives while still raising their young families. I am one of the thousands of young mums who has studied while raising babies while being a child ourselves! I am one of the young mums who are establishing their futures along with establishing their young child’s future! I am one of the young mums who works hard, independent of any benefit to provide for their young families! And you know what I am proud to be a young mum!

As with all young mums, I was judged by family when I fell pregnant at 20 and wanting to go to uni! They said I couldn’t possibly do it, that my child’s life will be ruined if i go to uni because I’ll be too eager to party! That I should terminate my pregnancy because I couldn’t take care of myself so how can I take care of another human being? And it goes on… However, I didn’t let that change my dreams or my plans. I will be going to uni and have my baby too! Uni started when my daughter was 3 months! My uni friends didn’t mind that I had a kid. They adored my daughter! I had a social life but it didn’t involve partying or going to clubs ( yes! You can still have a fun social life without alcohol! Shocking!) I used to study on the train as I wanted to spend time with my daughter once I picked her up from childminder’s. Weekends, I only studied when my daughter was asleep! In my final year, I fell pregnant and remember writing my final year exams while my son was kicking about! Graduated with honours 2 months later! Started an internship with a university related to my degree and finished it just 1 week before my son was born! Once my son was 6 months I started looking for a job related to my degree. 3 months later I started in clinical research and now I’m here having progressed in my career field, 2 gorgeous kids who are unscarred by being raised by a young mum and are exemplary to other children! They are raised knowing they need to love people and where they live! I am socially active too and have a few hats on outside work, everything from being as mentor to being a trustee, I am also a caring citizen! And all of this with no support from anyone at all!

I am not the only young mum who does such things! Until the world of Twitter, I thought I was all alone. However little did I know that there are so many fellow young mums who have an are going through the same things as I did! Young inspiring mums who do amazing things but not known to the general public because  the bad image portrayed by media will be wrong! Before judging a young mum think what her story is! Words are the deadliest weapons and we young mums are already vulnerable as it is and we could do without you talking behind our backs and saying how bad mums we are because we can’t stop a crying child on the bus!

Young mums can become future leaders/ powerful members of the society if the right attention is given to us! We do not want to be labelled! Have you ever thought on how strong willed young mums are? Do you think it’s easy to raise a young family while you are deciding your future too? Has anyone considered that we have also dreams and goals?! Have employers thought that because we have had or child young that we can now dedicate our life to having a career without any interruption compared to other women who decide to take a career break to have children? Have you every thought of giving a young mum a chance and see what she is capable of?

Just because of a minority, please don’t label all young mums as useless to the society. We are strong. We are brave. We are committed. We are full of ideas. We are dreamers. We are achievers. We are young mums.

Sophie

Why we need to tell our stories {and raise our expectations}

The moment I realised my life wasn’t over, I was sat crossed legged on the health centre floor.  

Every week, I would walk half an hour with my daughter to this group for teenage mums.  It was far less daunting than the regular toddler group, which would generally consist of a good dose of condescension and a few sideways sneers from the ‘grown-up’ mothers.  But in our young parents group, we’d share about sleep deprivation, breast feeding and relationships.  We’d chat with a health visitor about teething and nutrition, while our babies investigated colourful toys and invaded one another’s personal space.  

Then one morning, one of the staff – Julie – asked me about the future.  When your pregnancy is met with a strange mix of shock and pity, and the general consensus is you’ve thrown your life away, you don’t think a whole lot about that.  The tabloids and the people around you shout it – this is your life now, a drain on society and any chance you ever had was blown out the water.  It doesn’t occur to you that the option of a future is still available.  

I’d completed my GCSEs, with fairly good grades.  I’d made it halfway through my AS Levels, until eight months pregnant – but working two jobs on the side and ridiculously anaemic, I’d had to admit defeat.  I thought that was it, then, my life carved out for me.  So I shrugged when Julie asked me about studying or work.  You can’t do those things with a baby, can you?  Not when you’re a teenage mother.  I’d never even dreamed it was a possibility.  And I thought she had no clue, until the next few words:

I was a teen mum too, you know.

And that was all it took.  That she had been where right where I am – that here she was now, in a good job, making a difference.  This was the first time it dawned on me that society was wrong – my daughter was not an excuse to write off a future – she was my reason to fight for one.  I shared this story with a friend this week, but I wanted to share it here too, for a few reasons.

{One} I think we under-estimate the importance of telling our stories.  Every one of us, in some way, is  further along the same path another is walking.  We often feel like we need our happily every after before we share where we’ve been  – but by being brave enough to share your unfinished story,  you could change the course of another person’s life.  Who needs to hear that you’ve been there too?

{Two} We need to break free from the expectations of others.  Why do we allow them to define who we can be?  I have been guilty of this in so many ways, in all situations.  For years, I self-limited and held myself back, because I’m the teen mum, the single mum, the girl with the messy childhood.  I still do it.  How about you?  What have you ruled yourself out from?

{Three} We must choose to see the potential in others.  People so often only live up to exactly what’s expected of them and so many have no one in their lives believing for more.  Be the person who inspires hope and sees potential where others see ruin.  Be the one who knows God transforms and how He redeems the most broken of lives.  Who could you encourage?

Ruth

February 2014