Teenage pregnancy has become a major issue in communities globally because of the negative effects it is associated with. Majority of teenage mothers and their children are likely to face challenges in their living. This paper will address some challenges that children born from teenage mothers undergo and also give insight to the many complications that are likely to arise to the child and to the mother.
Most of the infants born to teenage mothers undergo traumatic moments in their childhood and life thereafter. For instance, starting with their childhood life the children are likely to suffer both physically and mentally. First, these children are likely to suffer from various diseases due to inadequate medical care. According to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, pregnant teenagers, especially during the first and second trimester of the pregnancy, do not seek adequate medical care. These lead to development of various complications to the teenage mothers. The mother is therefore likely to suffer from anemia, toxemia, high blood pressure and premature birth (Stewart & Gail, 78). These complications affect the wellbeing of the baby by weakening his/her health. Many teenagers are unprepared and are not ready to take care of a baby and, therefore, they do not want to have the baby. They maybe too scared to tell their parents, so they try to hide the pregnancy as long as possible. This leads to bad prenatal care. The fact that there is a denial and delayed testing brings about lack of special nutrition, ongoing medical care, which is needed for the well being of the developing fetus, and also inadequate care in order to prevent any possible complications. The teenager in this situation is subjected to suffer an emotional crisis. Emotional crisis can lead to rush decisions like abortion or suicide attempt, which have adverse effects on the unborn child.
Teenage mothers are not likely to gain required weight during pregnancy. In fact, some are striving to lose weight by food self-deprivation, skipping meals or sticking to diet that will make them skinny. Some are hooked to drugs and smoking or may turn to this behaviors for comfort. These habit forming substances are likely to harm the baby. According to U.S. Disease Control and Prevention Centers, some of the complications associated with drug use include low birth weight, which can lead to infant mortality and childhood disorders like less developed organs, respiratory distressed syndrome and bleeding in the brain. Substance use can also lead to premature birth and this creates problems such as physical disabilities, brain damage etc. The potentially long stay in hospital and high risk of health problems for the babies causes more stress on their teenage mother.
According to the Patricia and Leanne in their journal Developmental Psychology, babies born to teenagers are likely to have weaker intellect and also have rampant medical and behavioral issues. They are also less likely to have proper health care, nutrition or enough cognitive and social stimulation. As a result, they could have underdeveloped intellect, and thus lower academic performance (Patricia & Jacobson, 254–64). Teenage pregnancy delays education for the mother. Many teenagers become pregnant when at school and are therefore forced to quit school so that they can take care of their child or get married. With this, uncertainty about the future is definite especially when the father of the child does not accept his responsibilities. The mother is worried because she feels she does not have what it takes to be a good mother and a provider for the child. Babies in this situation are at high risk of neglect. Many teenagers also opt to give away the baby for adoption.
A teenage parent who gave birth and kept the baby may be remarried later in life and take the first born with her. You will find that this child feels closer to the biological parent than to the other parent no matter how loving him/her may be. They also feel threatened when there is a birth of other siblings. They may feel like they really do not fit in the family. This is likely to bring about child’s rebellious behavior.
In a number of cases, the teenagers responsible for the pregnancy are forced by circumstances to marry each other (Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenthood Advisory Council Report, 77). It could be because of pressure by their parents, pressure to fit in the society as responsible people or even financial reasons. The teenage parents are obviously not prepared to become parents and this creates a lot of pressure. It could lead to verbal abuse or physical abuse of each other. When children grow in such an environment, they are most likely to pick up abusive habits, thus extending this to their own families.
After the birth, teenagers may not be willing to give attention to the infant as needed. A teen may be an inadequate mother because she is overwhelmed by the needs of the young baby. Most of the teenage born children are brought up in single parents home where there is less supervision. The single mother is will overwork herself in order to ensure that the baby does not suffer. The mother may not be able to meet all the needs of the child nutrition and other wellbeing factors. Respondents at a Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies attributed teenage pregnancy to breakdown of communication between children and parents and also to pure supervision (Mooney, Linda, Knox & Schacht 52).
Also, the mother may grow annoyed due to inadequate freedom to interact with her peers due to the demands of the baby. The mother may feel resentment to the father of the baby. This leads to the baby being a constant reminder of the past. These children are likely to have more health problems and may also suffer from higher rates of abuse. In most cases, early motherhood affects the psychosocial development of the child. Behavioral issues and developmental disabilities are high in children born by adolescents. The following are some of the disabilities:
- They are 50 percent more likely to be repeaters in grade school. The children have higher chances of performing poorly in tests and dropping out of high school.
- Daughters born to teenage mothers are more likely to be teenage mothers themselves.
- Sons born to a young woman in their teens are three times more likely to go to prison.
- A study suggested that teenagers have less affectionate behaviors to their babies like being sensitive on the baby’s needs, touching or even smiling. (Mooney, Linda, Knox & Schacht, 3)
- Teenagers who do not have strong emotional attachments to their parents are most likely to become sexually active at an early age and thus higher chances of teen pregnancy.
- Teenage babies are more likely to die in the first twelve months of their lives than those of older women. For mothers under fifteen years of age, the risk is much higher. (Domestic Violence & Teenage Pregnancy, 62)
About 64 percent of children born to teenage school dropouts live in poverty. Due to lack of enough education, the teenage parents are not able to provide well for the child financially because they cannot find a good job. Most teenage parents still want the freedom like their peers have and so do not accept accountabilities of parental life. The children end up not being well tended to. Poverty is associated with high rates of teenage pregnancy. (Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenthood Advisory Council, 11)
While a child brought up in a middle class family considers going to college to improve his/her life, a child who is neglected and grown up in poverty has to struggle just to survive to adulthood. They have to feed for themselves when they at a very young age and may end up dropping out of school to do odd jobs. Therefore, poverty becomes an obstacle to a child’s success.
Parents can help prevent teenage pregnancy through communication and by giving guidance to their children about sexuality, risks and responsibilities of intimate relationships. In a number of cases, teenage pregnancy has worked out pretty well. The obstacles that are associated with teenage pregnancy may make some of these teenage parents develop strong characters and so their children.
Teenage pregnancy leads to rebellious and rowdy behaviors (Frick & Lisa 45). It is important for parents to be aware that if they could help their children view the pregnancy positively, it would change their lives for the better. Teenagers who get advices and encouragement have a good relationship with their parents, teachers, relatives and friends. They are more determined than ever to bring up their children the best way that they can manage. This positive outlook creates many opportunities for both the teenage parent and her child. Chances are high that they will love the child, give all the attention that is needed and this will strengthen the mother child bond. The need to create a stable home and financial security for the child will have them finish school and become more responsible adults.
In conclusion, adequate measures should be taken to lower the rate of teenage pregnancy. For instance, both the parents (mother and father) responsible for the pregnancy should be accountable for the pregnancy. Since teenage pregnancy cannot be done with totally, it is important for parents to give guidance to their children about sexuality and the risks it is associated with. Also, the child born out of a teenage mother be taken good care of and advised in order to ensure his/her wellbeing in terms of psychosocial development and also to prevent developmental disabilities and some bad behavioral issues. The mother and the child should also be given social support.