I’m 21 and a parent to a 15-year-old, but I’m not taken seriously
A 23-year-old has told how she’s the the parent of a 17-year-old after becoming the legal guardian of her half-sister.
Hunter Nelson, who is currently based in Kentucky, started posting about her unusual family setup on TikTok in a bid to help others going through similar situations.
In a series of posts, she informs people that she did not have a child when she was six, but rather she took teenage Gracie into her care in 2021. The two share the same father and he passed away in 2015.
Then, in May 2021, Gracie’s mother also died and that’s when Hunter decided to find a way of filing for guardianship her to keep her ‘safe, happy and have all her needs and wants met’ instead of her being put into foster care.
Kentucky-based Hunter Nelson started posting about her family setup on TikTok. She took teenage Gracie into her care in 2021 after her parents died
The two share the same father and he passed away in 2015. Then, in May 2021, Gracie’s mother also died and that’s when Hunter decided to find a way of filing for guardianship
A shot of Hunter meeting her half-sister Gracie shortly after she was born
While many people told Hunter she was throwing her life away, she says becoming a mom has changed her life for the better.
The college student, who is majoring in elementary school education, explains: ‘My life took on a whole new purpose when she came to live with me!! I love seeing her get to enjoy being a teenager.’
Following the death of her father, the social services were either looking at putting Gracie into foster care or with an aunt, but the aunt didn’t prove to be a good fit.
‘Things were going on that… just weren’t safe for Gracie,’ Hunter explained.
She also touched on there being a history alcohol abuse in the family, with her father drinking heavily with his partners.
In a bid to help her North Carolina-based sister out, Hunter filed for legal guardianship which she said cost around $120 at the time.
Growing up, Hunter said she and Gracie ‘were never really that close’ as they grew up five hours apart
While many people told Hunter she was throwing her life away, she says becoming a mom has changed her life for the better
Hunter said of her boyfriend: ‘Honestly I could not do anything without him, he is so supportive of me, he’s proud of me, he lets me know that I’m doing a good job’
However, she needed a signature from a family member and the ‘resentful’ aunt wasn’t willing to sign off. In the end, the matter went to court.
Following a legal battle, the case was settled and Hunter won guardianship of her half-sister.
She said when Gracie moved in with her, all she had was a backpack full of clothes and a small dog which was pregnant.
To make Gracie feel at home, Hunter said she made her bedroom ‘super cute and got her some clothes.’
In one video she details some of the fears she had on becoming a mom at 15. Presented as though they are her inner thoughts, the accompanying captions read: ‘No other parents or staff members at her high school are gonna [sic] take me serious.
We have fun together, we love each other and we do like things that sisters do but then also I’m her only parental figure
‘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.’
While Hunter said taking on the role of mom has been tough, she says she has had lots of support from friends, her own mom and her boyfriend.
She says of her boyfriend: ‘Honestly I could not do anything without him, he is so supportive of me, he’s proud of me, he lets me know that I’m doing a good job… and his mom is such a godsend as well.’
Since posting about her story online, Hunter has been inundated with comments from intrigued viewers.
To begin with, many people were confused about how she became a mom so young, so Hunter went about detailing her situation step-by-step.
In terms of what home life is like, many people asked Hunter if she enforces rules to which she answered ‘yes.’
She says doesn’t allow Gracie to have sleep overs at her friends’ houses, she cannot smoke, she cannot drink alcohol and she cannot vape.
Gracie does not call Hunter ‘mom’ but she does respect her as an elder
Hunter and Gracie also have another half-sister who is the product of a third relationship their father had
On the subject of social media, Hunter says Gracie is allowed on apps such as TikTok and Instagram ‘but I do follow her to kind of like regulate who’s interacting with her.’
Other commenters have been intrigued about what the relationship is like between Hunter and Gracie as they are so close in age.
One commenter quipped: ‘Do y’all have a strong sister bond relationship or more a mother daughter one?’
In response, Hunter said the relationship is ‘a bit of both’ but her primary role is ‘parent’.
She continued: ‘She does understand that it is my job to keep her safe – I am her guardian.
‘I have to like make sure she is not making any harmful decisions to herself or other people around her.
‘We have fun together, we love each other and we do like things that sisters do but then also I’m her only parental figure so it adds that extra element into it.
‘She has rules and chores to do. I do everything her mom would do.’
The aspiring teacher says that she had some money saved up, she has a part-time job and both she and Gracie received some money from their dad passing away
While Gracie respects Hunter as an elder she doesn’t call her ‘mom.’
Growing up, Hunter said she and Gracie ‘were never really that close’ as they grew up five hours apart.
One family photo unearthed by Hunter shows her meeting her baby half-sister for the first time in hospital.
Another photo shows her smiling as she cradles the newborn back home on the couch.
The two also have another half sister, who is the product of a third relationship their father had.
Some people have asked how Hunter manages financially.
The aspiring teacher says that she had some money saved up, she has a part-time job and both she and Gracie received some money from their dad passing away.
Summing up life as a mom, Hunter says in one of her video clips: ‘It fluctuates. Some days it is really, really hard and I think I’m going to pull my hair out.
‘Somedays it is so easy and we get along so great. That’s been the hardest part for me, is having to admit when I need help and having to ask for that help.’
Looking ahead, Hunter is concentrating on graduating college and helping Gracie to pass her driving test.
She concludes: ‘I think that it really worked out for the best for the both of us and I think we’re both very happy now.’