Young Women/Youth Parenting

Although in past generations and in some cultures, childbearing occurs at a very young age, in Western culture there is a strong bias against people becoming parents early in life.

A number of factors are associated with this bias: ideas about lack of maturity and experience, lost opportunities to complete academic education, and low earning potential because of limited formal education.

The picture often presented is one of young parents feeling bored and trapped. The other side of the picture, which is less often presented, is of a different life sequence in which teen parents have more energy for parenting and later go back to complete their education when they are more likely to appreciate it and more clear about career goals.

Although feelings of being bored and trapped can occur for parents of any age, young parents are more vulnerable to these feelings because of the contrast with the freedom and exploration available to many of their peers.

A peer network of other parents can provide an antidote to these difficulties. Enough help with childcare to allow young parents to continue a life outside of parenting can offer relief, as well.

Some of the biases against parenting at a young age have to do with associated problems, such as poverty and instability of relationships, that could occur at any age and may not be relevant to particular parents. Rather than conceptualizing and generalizing parenting by persons of a “younger” age as problematic, it may be more useful to identify specific problems and abilities that are unique to particular parents.

If you are a young parent or the parent of young parents, here are some questions that you might consider:

Questions

  1. What does being a parent/grandparent at this particular time in your life offer that might not be available at other times?
  2. If you keep the knowledge of this advantage in your awareness, how will that make a difference?
  3. If you think about your whole life, are there important things that you are putting on hold? How can you keep dreams and plans of those things alive for your future?
  4. Which people support and find joy in your parenting at this time in your life? Does it make a difference to spend more time with them?

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