UBC Theses and Dissertations
Optimal development of teenage mothers: a new look at an old issue Pellatt, Kelly Lee
Adolescent pregnancy and parenting is a multifaceted issue that touches upon the very fabric that weaves together our social mores. Because of the perceived limitations teen parents place on their educational and economic futures, most research on adolescent pregnancy and parenting has focused on prevention. Research on teen mothers has shown that they are generally poor, have low levels of education, are prone to unstable relationships, and put their children at risk of being teen parents. Although teenage pregnancy prevention initiatives are important, they have (perhaps unknowingly) created a void in research and program development concerned with the well-being of adolescent mothers and their children. This study examines stereotypes directed toward teenage mothers (both historically and currently), relates both feminist and systems/ecological theory to teenage mothers, and undertakes reflective research on women who were teenage mothers. Twenty-one women who were teenage mothers (21 to 36 years old) participated in a reflective study addressing the relationship of three social support networks (family, community, and peers) to their level of education, economic well-being, and personal contentment. The study used a self-administered questionnaire consisting of fifty-four closed-ended, quantitative questions and three open-ended qualitative questions. Results from the questionnaire indicate a lack of community acceptance and social support programs (access to education and childcare) available to teen mothers. Strong positive relationships between the age of the participants, level of education, and total annual income were also observed. Examination of Canadian census data reveals that decreases in teen pregnancy over the last 30 years are proportional to the reduction of the overall Canadian birth-rate. The Canadian census data also indicate that adolescents who live on their own tend to live in poverty, regardless of whether or not they are a teen mother. Hence it must be considered that many of the stereotypes projected upon teen mothers may represent demographic phenomena prevalent among youth. Although the sample size is small (21 participants) this study contributes to a better understanding of the needs of teen mothers and is a good stepping stone for further research.
Item Citations and Data