Becoming a parent is not easy for anyone, but it’s particularly challenging for rangatahi (young people), who are still developing mentally, physically and emotionally themselves and trying to find their way in the world.
Taking on the responsibility of a child at a young age may require extra support and encouragement – both emotional and financial. Lots of young people have to do it on their own. But with the right support and tools, rangatahi can parent their pēpi to the best of their ability and enjoy the rewarding journey of parenthood.
Here are our top tips for supporting young parents, plus there are plenty of tips and links to finding support if you are a young parent yourself:
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Offer whānau support
Reach out with help if one of your family members is a young parent. Offer guidance, emotional support and advice but also encourage them to be independent. Help them with practical things like meals, budgeting, housework and looking after the baby so they can have a break. Make sure they know that there are also support services out there for them.
Keep an eye on their state of mind
Becoming a parent can be a difficult transition, especially for rangatahi. If you see any signs that they might be struggling with the stress, emotional or practical burden of parenting encourage them to talk about it and tell you how they're feeling. It might be enough just to share how they feel with a sympathetic listener but there are mental health support services available if needed. Read more about mental wellbeing for new mums.
Support from friends
Friends are hugely important to rangatahi and they need to maintain ties with them so they don’t feel cut off and isolated, especially if they are the only person in their friend group with a baby.
Find other young parents
Finding other young parents in the community in the same situation can be really helpful. They can support and help each other and understand the challenges faced as a young parent. Thrive Teen Parent Support Trust has over 300 young parents on its database who connect with via newsletters, Facebook and programmes. Call 09-5514367 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. You can also check out local Facebook groups or Plunket in your area.
Offer old (or homemade) baby gear
Having a baby can be expensive and young parents may not be in a strong financial position. If you know a young parent and you have baby clothes, toys, a pram, cot, car seat or anything else useful you don’t need any more, then offer it up. If you can knit, sew or have other creative skills you could make baby clothes, toys or blankets to help out.
There are lots of support services and organisations out there to help young parents. Some can be found on this parenting resources, courses and support page and others are listed below:
- Thrive Teen Parent Support Trust – phone 09-5514367 or email email@example.com
- The Salvation Army
- Association of Teen Parent Educators of NZ
- Work and Income
- Citizens Advice Bureau – support for new parents – phone 0800 367 222
- Te Kāinga Teen Parent Home (Auckland)
- E Tipu e Rea whānau services.
- SmartStart support for new parents NZ Govt
The Kiwi Families website has a web page with information and contact details for these organisations.