“I’m 23 and Parent to a 17-Year-Old.” Student Becomes Mom to a Teenager and Doesn’t Miss Partying or Her Former Freedom
When Hunter Nelson posted a video on TikTok in which she revealed that she had become a mom to 15-year-old Gracie at the age of 21, her post quickly racked up millions of views. Many people genuinely wondered how she managed to have a baby at the age of six.
Hunter and Gracie didn’t have much of a relationship for a long time
Hunter and Gracie are actually half-sisters, but tragic circumstances forced their family roles to change. When Hunter was young, her parents split up, and her father started a new family. The girl soon had a little sister, Gracie. The girls were close as children, but when Hunter reached adolescence, they drifted apart as they lived far away from each other and rarely met. In 2015, their father passed away and just short of six years later, Gracie’s mother did too.
By this time, the younger sister’s life could hardly be called a happy one. Her mother had led an unhealthy lifestyle up until her death, which took its toll on her health as a result. Gracie’s case came to the attention of social workers, and it seemed that the girl only had two options: a foster home or living with her aunt, whose home environment was not exactly a pleasant one.
Hunter feared that either of the options would cause irreparable damage to her little sister and decided to take matters into her own hands. Nelson applied for Gracie’s custody. Many people around her were surprised by her decision, but others supported her. One person even noted that older siblings make excellent caregivers and are often better at it than other relatives.
Hunter had to fight for her sister’s custody.
At first, Gracie’s relatives were hostile to Hunter’s idea, and she even started receiving threats from them. Her aunt tried to challenge the custody rights in court, but Nelson was able to win the case. It seemed that now nothing would stand in the way of the sisters’ happiness, but Gracie herself didn’t want to move in with Hunter at all and was desperately rebellious.
But Nelson was relentless. She felt her younger sister would be lost in her old surroundings. “I felt like I was doing what was best for her even if it was very hard for both of us,” she says.
To help Gracie get back to a normal life, Hunter was strict with her from day one. She made a clear schedule of house chores and posted it in the hall. The sisters took turns keeping the house clean. In addition, Nelson forbade any sleepovers outside the house.
Slowly, they settled into life together, and now Hunter only has two serious requirements: to never lie and to take care of her health. But when it comes to school work, cleaning her room, and other such things, Hunter is not so strict. The younger sister is allowed to use social media but only under Nelson’s supervision, as the latter feels she’s not only a guardian but also the girl’s protector.
Nelson would do anything for Gracie.
In order to take care of Gracie, Hunter has had to give up many of the joys that come with college life. “I’m 23 and a parent to a 17-year-old,” she says. Sometimes she feels a little sad about this, as she knows she can never get those years of her life back. But Nelson is confident that her little sister is worth any sacrifice. She’d rather drive Gracie to class or make her lunch than go out with her friends.
Hunter is studying to become a primary school teacher as well as working and dedicates her free time to her sister. The important thing is that Gracie is with her, and she is happy and safe.
At first, Nelson could hardly imagine how she, a young woman, would be perceived as a parent of a teenager. She suspected that many people would be critical and condescending. “I can already feel people asking me what grade I’m in when I go to her events... How am I going to teach her how to drive when I can barely get down the road,” Hunter worried. To cope with other people’s judgment, she was advised to be cold and even almost mean to others.
The sisters’ relationship makes up for all the difficulties they have to face.
To make living together easier, the sisters try to plan ahead and not leave anything to the last minute. Their schedules are determined by Gracie’s cheerleading practice. Nelson is now focused on preparing her little sister to get her driving license. Despite previous friction with members of Gracie’s family, Hunter still wants the girl to get to know them better. But for now, their schedules are too busy.
Hunter feels she is both a big sister and a parent to Gracie. She will do anything to protect her adopted daughter. Nelson looks forward to seeing what the future holds for Gracie. Hunter says she puts her sister’s safety ahead of her feelings and desires. But Gracie understands why she does this. “I think that it really worked out for the best for the both of us and I think we’re both very happy now,” the girl notes.