Is Teen Pregnancy a Turning Point?
By now, we are all a little tired of hearing the negative aspects of teenage pregnancy.
The fact that teen pregnancies make for a harder time for both mom and baby to finish their educations, an increased risk for drugs and substance abuse, violence, child abuse, domestic violence, poverty, depression, and the list goes on.
Although I was not a pregnant teen, I became pregnant with my daughter at the age of 21, as a senior in college, and even then, I experienced a lot of the negativity surrounding young pregnancies. My first thought when I saw those two blue lines was that I would never live the successful and fulfilling life I had dreamed about – I thought for sure that I would struggle to “get ahead” in my career and that I would be doomed to hardships I wouldn’t have otherwise encountered.
The hardest part about having an unplanned pregnancy at a young age often isn’t the physical challenge of being pregnant or finishing school or finding a job – it’s dealing with the negativity that you won’t amount to anything simply because you become pregnant. Whether it’s blame for “getting pregnant” in the first place or judgment about milking the system or overcoming stereotypes (Teen Mom, I’m looking at you), it’s hard to believe in yourself as a young mom.
Which is why I was so excited to read this study about teen pregnancy. Instead of listing more ways why teen moms are doomed to failure, the study found that, for some teens, pregnancies actually helped them to lead more successful lives.
“If there's good education and holistic support for the various needs young families have, teenage parenthood can really be an opportunity for a young woman to really transform her life,” the study’s researcher, Jennifer Hindin-Miller, said. “My findings showed that the young teen mothers I interviewed who had attended a teen parent school were mostly successful educationally and in other aspects of their lives which are valued in our society, such as careers and home ownership.”
Overall, unlike many of the horror stories we hear about teen pregnancies, Hindin-Miller found that for the teen moms that received the right support, their “life trajectories appeared to not have been delayed or disadvantaged by becoming parents early.”
When it comes to changing the name of the negative teen pregnancy game, support is the answer.
How do you think we can support teen parents?