City hall photo exhibit aims to break stereotypes of teen parents – Edmonton

Bria-anne Blanchard had just turned 18 when she gave birth to her son Grayson.

Almost instantly, she said, she began to understand the stigma attached to being a teen mother.

“We’ve had struggles right from the start,” Blanchard, now 23, said.

Grayson, 4, struggled after birth to survive. (Courtesy Bria-anne Blanchard)

“He ended up getting really sick and he almost died. It’s hard when you are going through something like that,” she said.

“There is a lot of judgment, especially from older moms, thinking that we’re not good moms.”

When Grayson does something that makes people uncomfortable, they are quick to judge her skills as a parent, she said. 

But her son has been diagnosed with a number of conditions, including Tourette syndrome, she said.

“It seems like every couple of months it is a new diagnosis. OK, I got this one thing figured out, but how do I figure out this new thing? How do I be the best mom I can be?

“Then I am still dealing with people judging me because I am still figuring it out,” she said.

“I’ve actually gone to Walmart and a lady said, ‘See honey, that’s why babies don’t have babies.’ People don’t know your side of the story, they just see what they see.”

‘Stereotypes are largely unfounded’

Melissa Tremblay, a doctoral student with the community-university partnership for the study of children, youth and families at the University of Alberta has been working with Blanchard and seven other families on a research project.

“We often have some stereotypes of what a teen parent looks like or what a teen parent parents like in comparison to older parents,” Tremblay said.

“What they have shown us through this project is that those stereotypes are largely unfounded.”

The Terra-Brentwood photo-voice project asked participants to document their experiences as young parents.

The photo-voice project is a research method focused on social action.

“We were looking for photos that were meaningful in terms of…

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