Mum of eight, who first gave birth at 16, defends teen parents

Sharon Jabbour has eight children, the first of which she gave birth to at 16 and she says the negative stigma around teenage parents is not deserved.

 

The Melbourne mum and her husband Ramsey Jabbour are the proud parents of children aged between 18 and two, but you would be forgiven for thinking they are the family's oldest siblings.

Both are aged 34 and conceived their first child when they were in high school, when Sharon fell pregnant at 15 years of age.

"There's a massive stigma around young parents," Ms Jabbour said.

Sharon and Ramsey Jabbour on their wedding day.

"I don't think anyone at that age makes an executive decision to have a baby," she said of her situation.

Sharon was from a broken home and had little support, but despite the judgement, criticism and constant stares she received as a pregnant 15-year-old she made a promise to herself.

"For me it was a case of 'I'm not going to be like my parents'.

The couple with all of their eight children.

"I'm going to do this, it was for my own self I wanted to be the complete opposite, that's pushed me through the years."

Many teens who fall pregnant aren't as resilient and Sharon says stereotypes, lack of education and public judgement can be especially harmful.

"I think that perception needs to change, young people need support, more than anything, that criticism can often damage a young person and make them fall off the tracks."

Sharon says the stigma faced by teenage parents is not fair.

That could have happened to Sharon, having found little support for teen parents, but she was determined not to let it.

After her daughter Symonne was born, Sharon left school, to take on her role as a mum.

"Once I had Symonne I made the conscious decision to continue to have children at a young age," she said.

The family having dinner together at home.

But she also knew the importance of education.

"I did short courses, I always felt like I wanted to learn more, just because I didn't finish school didn't mean I'd account to nothing."

Celinna was born three years later and Tiffany, two years after that and the young couple continued to grow their family.

"People automatically assume if you're a young mum or you have a large family that you're reaping the rewards from Centrelink off welfare payments."

The family enjoy time together at their home.

However, Sharon and Ramsey both work full-time, setting an example for their brood.

"While I'm at work during the day he's at home doing pick up and the role reversal I get home and he does what he needs to and that's what works for us."

She says one benefit of being a young parent is having the energy to keep up with the kids.

Sharon with her daughter Symonne when she was first born 18 years ago. Photo: Sharon Jabbour/ Facebook

The young mum with her eldest daughter now. Photo: Sharon Jabbour/ Facebook

But teen parenting hasn't always been an easy road for the couple and it's not a concious decision they would encourage.

"I say to my girls you have the rest of your life... although I would have it no other way now, if I was to sit there and think: 'Is that a conscious decision I'd make at that age?' I'd say no."

But for teens, who find themselves in similar circumstances, they have a different message.

"If it happens due to circumstances if you have the will, ability and want to be a good parent and raise kids, then you can, and you can still enjoy your life fully."

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