Now, before you beg us to divulge our beauty secrets, let's be clear, we do not enjoy being mistaken for very young parents. Simply because society can be quite hostile to such people.
People sometimes make condescending comments like "gee, I don't know how you can parent; I'd be terrible at your age". Or "I think people should have a house before they have a baby."
However, the truth is any hostility we've faced is quite minuet. We are not that young. And we have some qualifications and a bit of work experience.
But I, Danielle, have friends that are young. They are teenager parents, predominately single mums. Many of the mum's I know are dedicated and loving parents. And the hostility they face in society is not minuet. It is real, horrible and can be debilitating.
The Difficult Life
Many of the teenage mum's I know don't join groups like playgroups and meet other mums; they feel too ostracised. I see and feel the many disapproving glances and words given to my friends when in public with them. Therefore, they stay home instead; making isolated and disadvantaged children.
In the city where I live there is no crisis accommodation for pregnant or teenage mums. They are turned away from shelters. So if you're a homeless pregnant teenager you sleep on the streets. Many young parents I know live in cramped conditions on friend's couches or even putting up with domestic violence because renting is unaffordable.
Even coming to church isn't always inviting. I have a lovely teenage friend who came to church for a time with her young child and I watched as only one or two people would ever try to talk - the same people every week.
It seemed they were invisible to everyone else. They stopped coming. I asked why, and the answer? 'Well I went through a tough time and maybe if someone called from church to see how I was, I'd come back. But no one did. No one cares about us there'.
One comment I heard from a Church leader when we were starting a new Sunday School job may show a certain attitude: "the children here are smart and obedient because they're from good educated families'. I can only wonder what her expectation is of kids that aren't from highly privileged backgrounds.
This Christmas we've come to see the Christmas story in light of the plights of our young friends. All of a sudden the Christmas story is less beautiful and more challenging, traumatic and amazing. The nativity story becomes less like the Santa story, where if we're good we get this awesome pressie: which to Christians is often called heaven.
It becomes less spiritual and more about the here and now. Perhaps, it is a story that is better understood spending time with those that have it difficult rather than in an air-conditioned church, from our beautifully decorated houses and with overindulged stomachs.
Surely young, unwed Mary had a similar experience as many young mums in Australia. She would have been scorned, looked down upon and ostracised. Loneliness was probably one of her few companions. Not only was she a teenage mum but Mary's Son was also born into poverty. And her Son would soon become a refugee in Egypt.
Most people would have thought Jesus had little potential. Whilst the wise men's gifts were amazing, their gift was out of the ordinary for the life of Jesus. Few people paid attention to His birth. The first message that Christ was born was to shepherds. This was a lowly occupation and they received little education. And the stable was certainly not a safe or pleasant labour ward.
The way Christ came into the world is so crucial to the story. Only by understanding the circumstances of the story we comprehend the solidarity and love the Creator has for the vulnerable and suffering. He can relate to the poor more than the rich.
What's more, He said "Come, follow me." And he said that meaning 'come follow my life.' Follow Him to the manger where a child is born in poverty to a teenage mother; follow Him to the lame, mentally ill and forgotten. Follow Him as he is so poor He has no place to rest his head. Follow him to the cross.
Listen to Mary's song: 'He has put down the mighty from the seats, and exalted them of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he has sent empty away' (Luke 1 verses 52-53).
Danielle and Daniel Stott are Bible College graduates who live on the Gold Coast. Daniel is training to be a teacher and Danielle is caring for their toddler daughter and one on the way.
Danielle and Daniel's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/d-and-d-stott.html