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“Approximately one million teenage girls give birth in the United States each year” according to The Social Impact on Being a Teen Mom written by Rose Welton. Positive and negative perceptions have been associated with teen parents and parenting. There is a strong impact childbearing has at a young age that interferes with social life, relationships, education, work and personal well-being. There are also outside factors that pose as barriers that keep teen parents from being as successful as they intend to. There are both positive and negative scenarios that determine an individual’s ability to have a successful academic life, which has a strong relationship with financial stability, and social outcome as a teen parent.
Childbearing is a great responsibility, which most teens are not in position for. According to Sheryl Faber in the article Pros and Cons on Teenage Parenting, becoming a parent earlier than expected causes teens to “find themselves unprepared to meet this type of life disruption and challenge”. At a young age, most teens do not have the proper funds necessary to raise their child. Most teens in high school have yet to give their future a thought, and most students do not have a job because they attend school full time. The thought of getting a well-paying job or going to college are concepts that most teens do not dream of while in high school. When teens do become parents, it is likely that they are not financially stable, “more than 60 percent of teen mothers live in poverty at the time of their child’s birth”. Most teen parents receive support from their parents but will ultimately have to apply for public assisting programs and get part time jobs.
Balancing work to provide for their children and for their own personal needs while trying to spend time with their children increases the likelihood that they will drop out of school or become at risk of doing so. Dropping out of high school will often lead to the lack of “experience or education to hold high-paying jobs” states Faber. Dropping out of high school or not going on to college can have a strong impact on teen parents. According to Adolescent Pregnancy: Current Trends and Issues written by Jonathan Klein, “The United States is faced with the complex issue of teenage pregnancy that ultimately influences educators, government officials, and youths themselves”. Being a teen parent is presented as a complex issue because there are not a lot of resources readily available for them. Most schools are unable to accommodate with the schedules of teen parents.
Like teen mothers, teen fathers are more likely to have “poor academic performance, higher school drop-out rates, limited financial resources, and decreased income potential” (Klein) than their peers who are not fathers. The quality of education used for other students are not available for pregnant teenagers or young parents according to The Teen Parent Academy. Female teen parents from the age range of thirteen through the age of twenty are more likely to be “considered at risk of dropping out of school, with attendant risk of not receiving further educational support” (Baptise Jr. , Walker) due to the lack of special needs programs for young parents. The author implies that there are young parents who attempt to continue with school during and after pregnancy. This is another factor that can contribute to the ability for young parents to not be able to complete high school. Most teens miss out from basic learning skills such as ways to keep track of finances and getting a good job. Many high paying businesses require college degrees and experience in related fields. Being financially unstable, and not having enough to provide for a baby at a young age is a negative consequence for a teen parent.
Aside from financial difficulties, teen parents are also prone to social changes that lead to isolation. According to Welton, strong emotions such as “anger, denial and guilt” are inevitable and challenging to overcome for teen moms. Societal demands as well demands from their newborns are tough to balance. Social repercussions are within the bounds of possibility to show up in the life of teen moms. There are a large percentage of teen moms who drop out of high school for good or finish years later. Welton states, ‘Approximately 50 percent of teenage mothers get their high school diploma by the time they reach 22 years of age”. Not attending school prevents academic success which can interfere future-oriented goals. Isolation is another one of the main social changes. Aside from attending classes, most teens are involved in extracurricular activities and would have to refrain from activities because of the time they may have to spend with their child. Long hours of work or overtime are also attributes to isolation, and as Faber suggests, ‘the cost of childcare and living expenses may keep them” from participating in any social event. Feeling overwhelmed by their new lifestyle can connect to the reason of seclusion.
Despite the challenges and the obstacles that comes with childbearing at a young age, there are also exceptional outcomes. According to Cynthia Rosengard in Concepts in the Advantages and Disadvantages of Teenage Childbearing Among Pregnant Adolescents, “how the timing would be beneficial for them in their futures”. In consideration of childbearing at a young age being unexpected, the need to drop out of school at the time can serve teen parents as motivation to complete school at a later age or to get something equivalent to a high school diploma. Motivation while being a teen parent is one of the biggest benefits. Motivation, according to Pros and Cons of Teenage Parenting, allows young parents to have time to reflect on their current situation and think more towards their futures alongside their children’s. Most teens might have been on the wrong path before becoming parents (Faber). After realizing that they were going to become responsible for someone other than themselves, they became motivated to do well and have dreams for the future.
A once strong negative effect on education fulfillment for early parenthood can often lead to opportunities. The youth in question have options such as receiving welfare, but they are required to show proof of school attendance. The general equivalency degree (GED) programs have become more accessible to all, including teens. More schools are also adjusting their policies and are welcoming teen pregnancy. Considering that there more options available to young parents who want to receive help and want to have a degree in the future, is what has resulted in a decrease in numbers of those teen parents who do not get their high school diploma. According to Rebekah Coley’s Adolescent pregnancy and parenthood: Recent evidence and future directions, “studies have found that the effects of teenage pregnancy on high school completion and total educational attainment are much smaller than previous studies had indicated”. With low education completion, it is also likely that teen parents struggle financially and have lower incomes during the time they have a child (Coley). The option of receiving welfare benefits young parents in their current and future life with children. Coley states,
“Although teenage mothers’ use of welfare is higher and their incomes are lower in the years immediately after birth, they make up for this by increased employment and earnings in their late 20s and beyond”.
Since young parents who receive public assistance which helps support them and their children, it is required of them to do something in return such as go to school or have a job. Ultimately, a job will help with any financial struggle they may be faced with while first becoming a parent at a young age. Throughout the years, it is likely that with a change in jobs, cumulative experience, or with a degree of some sort, these once teen parents will be financially stable. The chance of obtaining welfare cannot only serve as the purpose of helping struggling young parents but it can count for motivation or a push towards future encounters. Some of the possible future encounters as Coley describes, is school for their children. Eventually, these options give advantage a new opportunity for teen parents that will help them not struggle as much.
Childbearing at a young age has its upsides and downsides. Teen parents and those surrounded by them instantly think about the negatives about being a parent at a young age while in school and not having enough financial to support themselves and their children. The positive aspects of being a teen parent at a young age is achieved through work and maturity. Maturity, as well as prioritizing new responsibilities is what can allow a young parent to achieve or overcome obstacles put in their way. Research papers indicate that teen pregnancy and childbearing at a young age is a common and complex issue in the United States. Being so, there should be more resources made available to teen parents to turn to while pregnant and with child. Resources such as a flexible school hour, and more public assistance that can be accessed in easiest way.
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