Teenage mothers face unique problems that many adult mothers don’t. Teen pregnancy and parenting often interfere with education, social opportunities and employment options. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “Babies born in the U.S. to teenage mothers are at risk for long-term problems in many major areas of life, including school failure, poverty, and physical or mental illness. The teenage mothers themselves are also at risk for these problems.”
According to the California Department of Education, “70% of teen mothers drop out of high school, making pregnancy the primary reason young women drop out early. Only 30% of teen mothers complete high school by age 30.” Many schools aren’t equipped to deal with pregnant teens or new teenage moms. Desks aren’t accommodating to growing bellies and many child-care facilities are too expensive for a teen student to use during school hours.
Teen mothers often isolate themselves. While their friends go out, party, shop and play, teen moms stay home, take care of their child, sleep when they can and play with their baby. Money is often tight for a teen mother, so she doesn’t go to dinner and the movies with her friends. Babysitters are expensive, too, so going out to party is not a priority. The news of a teen pregnancy often stuns a family, and many times the pregnant teen’s parents cannot get over the shock and emotion accompanied by unplanned pregnancies. Families may be torn apart, distant and unforgiving.
Because many teen moms do not complete their high school education, the jobs they qualify for likely pay minimum wage. In many cases these moms are financially independent, and minimum wage doesn’t cover much after the child care bill is paid. Even for the teen moms who get some financial support from family or the baby’s father, money is often tight. This frequently prevents teen moms from going to college and furthering their education. They cannot afford school, day care and basic living expenses.
According to the March of Dimes, “Teenage mothers are more likely to have a low-birth weight baby.” The baby may be premature, which may involve other health risks and complications. As the infant grows, she may be fussy or extremely active. Teenage mothers don’t always have the resources and supports needed for baby-sitters or doctor bills. Teenagers also aren’t emotionally mature enough to successfully manage the stress of parenting. They do not have many life experiences to fall back on when trying to teach their own children. People expect teen moms to do it all, yet often aren’t able or willing to help out or offer a hand.