The Social Impact of Being a Teen Mom
Approximately one million teenage girls give birth in the United States each year, according to KidsHealth.org. In addition to the physical risks and financial difficulties, teenage moms experience significant social changes as well. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry emphasizes that feelings of anger, denial, and guilt are common for teen moms 1. These emotions and the demands of a new baby can be extremely challenging to overcome.
Being a teen mom can bring along social repercussions that extend into adulthood. A large percentage of teen moms drop out of high school. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only approximately 50 percent of teenage mothers get their high school diploma by the time they reach 22 years of age 3. Dropping out of school to handle pregnancy or care for a newborn can prevent a teenage mom from learning the skills necessary for adulthood and obtaining a job. Without proper education, she will struggle even more to rise above an increased risk of poverty.
Caring for a new baby requires a sacrifice of sleep, expenses, and time. For a teen mom who was previously engaged in social activities, it might be a shocking change to suddenly be unable to participate in many extracurricular activities. The amount of isolation that she feels can be directly related to the involvement of the baby’s father or other family members. With a lot of financial help or offers to help with the baby, some teen moms are still able to enjoy a social life and can see friends or participate in activities on a semi-regular basis. However, some teen moms find themselves overwhelmed by their new lifestyle and will have to work to make new friends they have more in common with.
Teen moms experience a social change during pregnancy as well. The lifestyle changes required in pregnancy means that activities with drinking or smoking are no longer an option, and the extra rest needed in pregnancy can cut back on the energy available for time spent with friends. Finally, the high stress levels that come with anticipating the new baby can make it difficult to enjoy extracurricular activities.
To minimize the negative social impact, communication with a solid support system is essential for a teen mom. If your teenager is experiencing the challenges of parenting, make sure she has access to a counselor. Your community might offer programs where she can connect with other teens in her situation, and some schools have programs that allow her to complete her education while receiving free or inexpensive child care.
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- Mom image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com