I WROTE about the problems encountered and sources of stress of young mothers in the division of Baguio City based on the results of my research. In the same study, I also seek out ways how these student-mothers relieve themselves from stress.
Spending time with the baby came out as the primary coping mechanism of these mothers. This is interesting considering that child-rearing is a source of stress. Young mothers said that being with the baby, playing with them, or going out with them give them joy. The smiles of their babies are very helpful to see the bright side of things.
I did not expect that this would come since the common notion for coping mechanism is usually a time we give ourselves to wind up. It could be a time we give ourselves to free us from stressful thoughts or activities. The fact that young mothers consider spending time with the baby as their primary coping speak of their changed view on motherhood and happiness.
There is a common understanding in the country that mothers should avoid going to bars or spend time with friends. (Well, this is oftentimes true).They should not take alcohol anymore. Accordingly this is not a good picture of being a mother. Motherhood to us is staying in the house, taking care of the baby and doing household chores. This idea apparently influences these young mothers. “It is like a sin when you go out alone.” With this practice, these young mothers show acceptance of their new role as mothers.
Furthermore, the babies remind them of something beautiful. They know that early pregnancy means mistakes mainly because of the challenges they face but for them the babies provide them reasons to be grateful. Looking at their babies, they feel a sense of being lucky or blessed. They are overwhelmed with the love they feel toward their children. For them motherhood, regardless if it was too early, is something they cannot regret.
Crying out is another coping mechanism they employ. I assume that since they cannot really express themselves afraid of being blamed or judged, the next outlet is crying. One said when no one is around she would go to her room, lock the door, go in a corner and give a controlled scream.
Others would cry during the night when everyone is sleeping. They said they feel a burden is lifted off their shoulder when they’re done crying. It helps them a bit though they admit it does not totally erase the pain or frustration.
Lastly, young mothers talk or share their problems with family members of friends in school to unburden. They talk to their grandparents, parents, partners, and friends in school. They seek advice from them. Many of them are excited to go to school because they have friends to talk to there.
“It is good to have very supporting friends,” says one. “They know about my early pregnancy. I share to them my experiences.” Despite this, her friends express their admiration because she perseveres amidst the difficulties in school and motherhood. Parents and other family members would advise them. When they get support from them, young mothers disclose it gives them a boost.
There are numerous coping mechanisms of young mothers but due to ignorance and fear, they can only do a few. The society can help them more when they show them an acceptance attitude. Government agencies tasked to oversee the welfare of disadvantaged individuals can also provide recreational activities to these young mothers to ease the burden they feel. The school through the guidance office can organize activities for the young mothers. Young mothers can still enjoy their hobbies without being judged as selfish or branded as negligent mothers. When these young mothers fail to cope, both the mothers and the infants surely suffer.