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Journal Article


Kaufman J. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1996; 789: 17-30.


Department of Psychology, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey 07666, USA.


(Copyright © 1996, John Wiley and Sons)






Teenage parents are cast into adult roles before the role experimentation and identity development tasks of middle adolescence can be completed. Understanding the etiology of this social problem requires an ecological perspective encompassing individual characteristics, person-context variables, and societal factors such as race and social class. Risk factors identified in the literature on adolescent pregnancy in the US include: absence of a future orientation or aspirations, lack of assertiveness and interpersonal skills to control physical intimacy, low socioeconomic status and minority group membership, growing up in a single-parent family, a history of sexual abuse, five or more siblings, a sister or friend who became a teenage mother, lax parental supervision of dating and free time, low self-esteem, and dropping out or failing in school. The limited data on adolescent fathers suggest they have histories of substance use, delinquency, failure to graduate from high school, financial difficulty, and exposure to family violence. The offspring of adolescent parents show a higher incidence of developmental delays and mild mental retardation than children of adults and are at increased risk of child abuse and neglect. Teen parents raised in dysfunctional families tend to perpetuate destructive methods of child rearing and have unrealistic, age-inappropriate expectations for infants and toddlers. Teenage parents' lack of competence can be mitigated, however, by positive living arrangements, a supportive family of origin, peer support groups, quality child care, school-based services, and accurate information about parenting and child development.

Language: en


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