“My journey is not unique, but it is one that should be told.”
– LaShunda Leslie-Smith, LMSW
Written by LaShunda Leslie-Smith and Contributing Authors from Around the Globe
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It is what these women endured as they entered into motherhood before their time, often unsupported by loved ones and ashamed of their circumstances. Teenage motherhood is often accompanied by social issues, such as lower educational levels, higher rates of poverty, and other poorer life outcomes in children of teenage mothers. Among developed countries, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand have the highest levels of teenage pregnancy.
Despite the struggle, and only through the grace of God, these women were able to overcome their circumstances and find hope. Some found hope through the sparkle in the eyes of the child born to them. Some through education and some through the support of family and friends. As they struggled, these women held on to that hope through the hard work of pursuing a better life.
Finally, the hard work paid off. The road was not easy for them, but with God by their side, they beat the statistics, they hushed the naysayers, and found success that only they could define.
This captivating memoir is a collection of stories from thirteen women from the US and the UK who have endured and persevered through teenage pregnancy. Their stories are passionate and powerful and life-affirming. Readers will be amazed by the resiliency and maturity displayed by these women at young ages. Their stories are full of encouragement and hope for anyone facing difficult life circumstances. The bonus section of the book features stories written by the adult children of former teenage mothers. Their stories are equally as powerful. Excerpts from The Journey of A Teenage Mother:
“I really wish my mother had been emotionally available to support me through challenging times as I grew into a young woman. There were no talks about boys, sex, dating, or the like. I was left to explore on my own. My counselors were other sexually confused seventh and eighth graders. I attended an inner-city middle school where just about everyone had given up their virginity by the seventh grade, or at least that was the lie they all told. I was criticized by friends, because at the ripe old age of 13, I was still a virgin. No one taught me the importance of this gift, or the importance of why it was specifically meant for my husband. Without hesitation, and in an attempt to be deemed cool, I gave my precious gift to someone whose name I don’t even remember.” –LaShunda Leslie-Smith
“I can still remember the first time he walked into the pizza shop. Samson, I call him. He looked just the way I imagined the biblical Samson would look, tall and strong with curly jet-black hair. His skin was coffee brown and when he flashed a smile it was all I could do to not giggle and run away screaming. I was already convinced that I was in love. Only, I didn’t really know what love was – the love God intended anyway. This was pure fascination. I still can’t believe how little it took to impress a headstrong schoolgirl like me.” – Angela Parris
“The first time I realized how alone I felt was when a nurse in the hospital picked Noah up out of the crib on wheels, handed him over to me on the hospital bed, and informed me that she’d be back in a little bit with some Ibuprofen. She told me she was going to give me some quiet time to be alone with my new baby. I sat up in the bed and bent me knees up towards my chest. I rested Noah’s head against my legs and starred into his little blue eyes that were looking back at me. I think I muttered something like, “Hi, Noah. I’m your mom. I love you…”. And then the tears started rolling down my cheeks. I realized I was his mom, and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. There he was. This precious little gift from God just looking up at me waiting for me to make my next move. There I was. This young girl, just looking down at him, waiting for him to make his next move. And that was how it would be for the next couple of years.” – Sarah-Elizabeth Pilato
“I hated being hit in the face, smacked in the mouth and verbally disrespected, but in our home, you stayed in a child’s place. There were times I never understood the reasons behind my mother’s and grandmother’s whippings and other times I thought that my grandmother would whip me because she just didn’t like me. She often rolled her eyes at me or looked at me with disgust or would just shake her head as if there were something shameful about me. My 13th birthday came, and I remember thinking that I could not wait to grow up, get out of this house and be on my own, away from it all. Then I turned 14 and he walked into my life and I fell in love. Broken, but desperately in love.” – Tanishia Johnson
“My Mother raised me mostly by herself, until my stepfather stepped in. I knew my real father, but I didn’t have a good relationship with him. He wasn’t around much, and it hurt me. I was torn apart as a little kid knowing that my real father knew where I lived, knew my number, but never visited, and rarely called. When he and my mother split, my mother didn’t ask him for much of anything. She didn’t need him to take care of me, but I needed him. I yearned for him.”
– Branden Calloway
A Letter To My Mother: A Daughter’s Perspective
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This is what readers had to say about A Letter to My Mother: A Daughter’s Perspective
“The book was great. I could relate to almost all of the experiences, every emotions, every heartache…Just everything. I never thought that I would read the stories of people that were so similar to my own. It really opened up my heart to forgiving my mother and others for a lot of things. So thank you. You have no idea what this book has done for me.”
“I purchased this book from one of the contributing author’s, LaShunda Leslie-Smith. The book itself is in a word: Powerful. I absolutely recommend this book for any daughter, mother, sister or woman who has experienced hurt, rejection, and/or abuse at the hand of their mother, grandmother, or other mother figure. It is a must read if you are willing to truly allow God to minister to you and heal you from all past hurts. The writing makes you present in each story and each authors’ transparency depicts a testimony of their life.”
“A book to inspire and encourage women to attain greatness through the gift of forgiveness. The various authors lay the ground work for healing through their stories. This book will give you what you need to push forward, to forgive; breaking the generational curses of the enemy. But God!”
Learn more about LaShunda’s childhood, her continual struggle to restore a healthy relationship with her mother, and how she overcame it all. Here’s an excerpt from LaShunda’s chapter, Moving Forward While looking Back, in the book A Letter to My Mother: A Daughter’s Perspective by Sharisa Robertson.
“Through the lens of a confused child, it appeared that your life was now your husband, and his kids. It felt as if you had a penchant for my two younger siblings, and perhaps you did not, but how is a child to decipher the feelings of a parent who is often detached and aloof? Even as a young child those feelings of seclusion began to take shape and ultimately provided the foundation for what has come to be the relationship that we call in name only, mother and daughter”
Your Rite to Passage: From Boy to Man
Written by LaShunda Leslie-Smith
Rites of passage are ceremonies surrounding events such as coming of age, marriage and death. The African American community tends to lack such traditions to mark monumental events in the lives of our children. LaShunda documents the development of her son’s Passage Ceremony and the impact it had on his life. This book encourages parents to develop family traditions that will highlight, celebrate, and define the stages that our children go through in life.