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February 7, 2013

Mentoring program helps prepare young moms for parenting

Vicki Shafer

Vicki Shafer, family nutrition advisor for Purdue Extension in Grant County, offers Purdue's Moms Together Program for teen mothers in the county. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo)
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Thirty percent of all new mothers in Grant County, Indiana, are teens.

"And those moms are not equipped to be parents," says Vicki Shafer, family nutrition advisor for Purdue Extension in Grant County. "They just don’t have the skills."

The children of teen mothers often face more difficulties than their peers, such as higher rates of abuse, increased likelihood of dropping out of school, and the likelihood that they will live in poverty. So Shafer offers Purdue’s Moms Together Program, which provides young mothers with mentors who help them develop the skills they need.

This free Extension program provides a safe atmosphere where young pregnant or parenting mothers can share experiences and support each other. Child care also is available, allowing participants to meet and spend time with their mentors.

“There’s a huge need for these girls to have someone come alongside of them to show them what to do and how to parent,” Shafer said.

Classes cover nutrition, child development, school readiness, stress management, communication, raising safe children and more. Mentors also encourage the young mothers to continue their education and to become self-sufficient. Teen mothers who participate learn how to raise healthier children and gain confidence in their abilities.

“The program is teaching me about children and how to deal with them and how to be a better parent,” said Hannah, a program participant. “It makes me more confident about being a parent.”

A video story of Moms Parenting Together program is available at www3.ag.purdue.edu/extension/makingadifference/Pages/story37.aspx.