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The Realities of Teen Pregnancy and Parenting
If you spend enough time watching daytime talk shows, you’re guaranteed to come across one dedicated to pregnant teenagers who have decided to keep and raise their babies. If you listen to enough of these young women, you’ll get a pretty good idea of how flawed their understanding of parenthood can be.
One of the most disturbing realities of teenage pregnancy and parenting, however, is that the younger the expectant mother is, the less able she is to recognize her own lack of preparedness for what lies ahead.
Surveys have shown that most expectant teenagers, regardless of age, believe that by having a child they have finally found a connection with another person, and even think that the child will connect them to their father. But younger teenagers don’t just seem to rely on their next child to provide them with an emotional connection; they seem to have no real understanding of how the realities of teenage pregnancy and parenting will change their lives.
There are approximately half a million births to American women under the age of twenty each year. One of the sadder realities of teen pregnancy and parenting is that many teenage girls who become pregnant are so ignorant about reproductive issues that they don’t realize their condition until well into the pregnancy.
This is especially alarming because so many birth defects can result from the behaviors an expectant mother engages in during her first trimester. Even worse, many teenagers are afraid to admit their pregnancies until it is impossible to hide them, or will even cut back on their food intake and try to prevent the pregnancy.
Such behavior means that two of the other realities of teenage pregnancy and parenting are a higher incidence of low birth weight babies and malnourished mothers, who may have a longer postpartum recovery period and be even less able to properly care for their newborns.
A 2006 study of 247 expectant teens, led by Dr. Cynthia Rosengard, of Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University Medical School, asked the young women, ages 12 to 19, about their motivations for getting pregnant. Almost a quarter of them admitted to consciously deciding to have a child.
And it seems that one of the more common realities surrounding teen pregnancy and parenting is that younger girls believe they can be friends with their children because of their closeness in age.
Sadly, another of the young women felt that one or the realities of teenage pregnancy and parenting was that by having her baby at fifteen, she could pursue a career as an adult because the child would be old enough to fend for herself. Another thought that having a baby would teach her some responsibility and keep her away from drugs.
But about 50% of girls over eighteen admitted that they are not prepared for the realities of teenage pregnancy and parenthood. There seemed to be an improved understanding of these realities as the women’s ages increased.
The idea of children having children, it seems, is not good for anyone but the children themselves.
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