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Adolescent Parenthood

Trends In The United States, International Trends, Antecedents Of Adolescent Pregnancy, Adoption, Marriage, And Single Parenthood

Adolescent parenting refers primarily to women and men nineteen years or younger who give birth to and elect to parent a child. Although most adolescent pregnancies are unintended, an increasing number of pregnant adolescents choose to continue the pregnancy and become parents. Estimates suggest that each year, slightly more than 10 percent of all births worldwide—almost 15 million— are to adolescent women (Alan Guttmacher Institute 1996). Adolescent childbearing is more common in developing countries, where about one in every six births is to women under twenty.

At any age, pregnancy and first parenthood produce changes that require adaptation. For adolescents, three transitions occur simultaneously. They must adjust to changes in their family-of-origin relationships during adolescence, changes in their physical and cognitive abilities, and changes in their social reality. Add to this the changes caused by premature parenthood, and the potential for stress increases. Typically, adolescent parents experience stress from five sources: relationships with the self, partners, parents, nonfamily institutions, and intergenerational relations. Thus, the adolescent parent faces a series of competing developmental tasks that increase the likelihood of stress.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & Parenthood