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‘Growing up together’

Young mother adjusts to life as a parent

May 10, 2008
By Connie Cartmell,
When she was 17 years old, knee-deep in the academic and social swirl of a typical high school lifestyle, Kelly Tyler was unexpectedly rocked with the realization that she was pregnant.

It was fall and she had barely begun her junior year. This wasn’t what she had planned.

“You grow up so fast,” Tyler, of Marietta, said. “I would want girls now to learn more about sex, responsibility and about what’s involved in having a child.”

Today there is nothing on Earth that could pry Kelly Tyler from her son, Hayden. His fourth birthday is May 29.

“He is such a blessing to me,” she said.

About one-third of women in the United States get pregnant before the age of 20 and more than 80 percent of these births are unintended, meaning they occur sooner than desired, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control (

Although pregnancy and birth rates among teenage girls have declined 34 percent since 1991, birth rates increased for the first time in 2006, from 40.5 per 1,000 women to 41.9 in 2006, according to the CDC.

Experts say more than 40 percent of adolescents will become pregnant before they reach age 20.

“I went to counseling and ended up in home schooling my junior year,” Tyler said. “My parents didn’t want me to have to be in school pregnant and all. By the time I found out, I was too far along for anything else, but I wouldn’t have had (an abortion) anyway. I don’t think that I could ever do it.”

The U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any developed country. It is twice as high as England, France and Canada. It is three times as high as Sweden and four times as high as Netherlands, according to CDC reports.

In her senior year of high school, this new mom returned to classes while her mother cared for her infant son.

“I went back to high school and graduated. It was hard,” Tyler said. “The worst thing was going back to school and not being like everybody else or life before,” she said. “I was no longer able to go out with my friends or anything. I had a baby.”

In her high school career, up to then, Tyler admitted she had been a “social butterfly.”

“Nowadays, more young girls are having intercourse. They don’t think about the responsibilities or consequences,” she said. “When your baby is born, your (former) life stops.”

She credits her mother, Charlotte John, for giving help and support through her pregnancy, birth, and over the past four years.

“If it wasn’t for my mom, I don’t know what I would have done,” she said. “I owe a lot to my mom. She wanted me to keep my life.”

Her mother was also a teen mom, Tyler said.

“She didn’t have the support that I did. Back then there wasn’t support,” she said. “She wanted it better for me.

“My family was supportive and that helped so much. My son has a huge extended family,” she said.

Tyler credits her child’s father, Jacob Wood, for sticking with their son and by her. The couple live together with Hayden.

“His father has been there all the time. There is a very good relationship between them,” Tyler said.

There may be many challenges and pitfalls to teen motherhood, but there have also been many rewards and beautiful moments, Tyler said.

“We’re growing up together,” she said of her son. “That’s my favorite thing to say. I have more energy than most moms because I am young. I am 21, and I can play and keep up with him.”

Today, Tyler is a student at Washington State Community College and will soon receive a degree in early childhood development. She plans to continue with her education to earn a bachelor’s degree and hopes to teach preschool one day.

Article Photos

MITCH CASEY The Marietta Times
Kelly Tyler and her son, Haydon Wood, 3, outside their Reno home Friday.

Fact Box

Kelly Tyler
Age: 21.
Address: Marietta.
Family: son, Hayden, 3; companion, Jacob Wood; mother and father, Charlotte and Todd John of Newport.
Occupation: Student at Washington State Community College



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