When Jessica Offer was pregnant with her first child, a woman asked her if she knew who the father of her child was. A shocked Jessica, then aged 19, replied: “Yes, he’s my husband.”
Jessica is now 29 and a mum-of-four daughters, and the comments and questions about her age haven’t gone away.
Every so often, she faces interrogation about why she has four children at a relatively young age. She says she frequently receives comments such as: “You have four children? How old are you?!”, and “Wow, you began early, didn’t you?!”
Jessica decided it’s time to share her side of the story, and penned an open letter on Kidspot, saying that young mums don’t deserve to be judged and looked down on.
Jessica explained she “matured quickly” and was never into “the partying scene”. She and her husband met and fell in love at a young age, and having children was a priority for them.
"All four of my daughters were planned, intentional and much-desired pregnancies.
"My husband and I, absolutely without question, intended all of them,"she says.
She points out that if she said, “Aren’t you a bit old to be a mum?” to an older mum, it would be met with disgust; yet people think it is fine to refer to a younger mum’s age constantly.
Jessica reiterates that age doesn’t influence whether someone is a good parent. She admits there are some disadvantages associated with being a young mum, but for her it has been worth it.
“If a woman decides to become a mother at a young age then yes, she will have to put some things on the back-burner while she raises her children," Jessica said.
"And sure, when a woman has a little more time without co-dependents, she can achieve more - career-wise and personally - before she sacrifices her own needs to raise her children.
"But at the end of the day, kids don’t care about age. Every individual has the capacity to be an incredible parent to their children, whether they are 17 or 45.”
Jessica says she understands that sometimes strangers don’t mean to offend her and are trying to pay her a compliment on how she raises her daughters, but says they ought to choose their words more carefully.
She advises them to say, “You’re doing a great job”, instead.
We couldn’t agree more - no one should judge a mum’s ability on her age. What really matters is how they treat their children and the values they pass on to them.