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Adolescent parenthood : a costly mistake or a search for love?
journal contributionposted on 2001-05-01, 00:00 authored by Barbara Hanna
Family life is changing worldwide and an increasing number of women are choosing single parenthood. Adolescents who become pregnant and early childbearers do not always become pregnant unintentionally; some actively plan pregnancy while others are ambivalent mainly about the timing. This paper reports on a study using an ethnographic approach that explored the mothering experiences of five sole-supporting Australian teenage mothers who had a child over six months of age. It focuses on the story of one of them, a young woman who gave birth at 16 and set up home for herself and her son. Early childbearing is often a response to adverse social conditions such as poverty or homelessness and is not uncommonly chosen by teenage girls from socially deprived backgrounds. Educational and employment opportunities may be limited, whilst motherhood may provide a purpose in life when few other options are possible. Young women who make this choice need comprehensive services to support them in the parenting role, including appropriate health care, welfare and housing benefits, and support in dealing with parenting, a role which they may greatly desire but are not automatically well prepared for.