Counseling Be Mandatory for Teen Parents? Essay

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Should parenting skills/counseling be mandatory for teen parents?

Teen parents are an issue that has been on the slow rise after falling for several years. In the U.S. alone, there are an estimated one million teen parents. About 85% of these parents usually have not planned their pregnancies. Therefore, there are huge risks which arise from unplanned pregnancies. The biggest risks for teen mothers come from delays in prenatal care and worse of if there is no care at all that they get Geronimus, 1991.

The reason why these teens do not get prenatal care is usually because they test for pregnancy quite late and they also fear telling their parents or guardians as well as others about their pregnancy Kiernan, 1997()

Teenage parents are a problem to the society because they are usually dependent on their parents and they are unable to raise the children on their own. Therefore, they increase the workload for parents and this can also lead to high poverty rates when the parents are strained to provide for their children and the grandchildren Holmlund, 2005.

Other problems include increase in school dropout rates, increase in HIV prevalence and increase in crime rates as a result of high poverty and these teenage parents trying to fend for their children Kaplan, 1996.

Therefore, the society in general is impacted by the problem of teenage parents.

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This research will help to check the current situation on teenage parents and what can be done to improve or sustain the situation. Most states in the U.S. have a health department which offers free prenatal care or even where a fee is charged, the fee is minimal, they also ensure that patient confidentiality is kept therefore the teens should feel safe if they visit such a center. This is an unknown fact and there are also other facts that are unknown to teenage parents and which need to be told for them to embrace so that the society can be able to benefit. This will be done through counseling.

Previous research findings

Essay on Counseling Be Mandatory for Teen Parents? Should Assignment

Intergenerational cycle of teenage motherhood

In a research study that was conducted by two researchers from Yale University, it was found that there is a cycle that ensues between the generations of teenage mothers. The study examined the risk factors of teenage mothers and the data came from 1,430 participants in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth conducted in 1997. Survival analysis was used to examine the rate of child birth across the years of teenage by maternal age at the first birth. A Hierarchical Cox regression analysis was then run to identify those multivariate predictors of teenage parenthood and to test whether these risk factors were the same for daughters of teenage mothers vs. The daughters of older mothers East, Reyes, & Horn, 2007()

The primary measure of outcome for this study was the age at first childbirth of the women and this was based on the cumulative information that is collected at these yearly interviews. The study found that the daughter of teenage mothers were more likely to become teenage mothers. This was after accounting for other risk factors of pregnancy such as individual performance at school, education level of the parents, number of children in the family, marital status of their parents, dating history, race and enrichment factors which influence teenage parenting East et al., 2007()

Other risks were unique to the daughters of teenage mothers. These were deviant norms of the peers, low parental monitoring, being members of the Hispanic race and lastly, poverty. The results of the study support approaches that are multidimensional to the prevention of teenage pregnancies and these interventions should be targeted to the unique risk factors among the daughters of teenage mothers East et al., 2007()

Parental behavior of teenage parents

The results of several studies conducted in the past showed that teenage parents undergo a lot of stress as a result of their lack of sufficient social and emotional support and also as a lack of sufficient knowledge on child development Dillard & Pol, 1982.

The stress also comes as a result of these teenage parents being immature and not fully developed to possess and understand child bearing and have the right child bearing attitude Lewit, 1992.

However, these conclusions are just tentative because there are no rigorous controlled studies to illustrate this Elster, 1983()

Parental behavior of the teenage parents is influence by the socioeconomic and psychological issues mentioned as the causes of stress. Though there are only a few studies which have stated conclusively which of these factors have a larger effect on adolescent parents, preliminary results suggest that teenage mothers and adult mothers have differing interactions with their children Macdonald, 1987.

However, the reasons for these differing interactions are not known at the present Elster, 1983.

It is, however, known that the children of teenage parents are at a slightly higher risk of child abuse, suboptimal development intellectually as compared to the children of adult mothers Leifer, 1990()

Programs developed in response to teenage parenting

Teenage parents and teen pregnancies are also a big problem because at the same time that the pregnancy occurs, the body of the teen is also still growing. Therefore, the teen needs more nutritional support in terms of meeting the needs of both the teenage mother and the baby. Therefore, nutritional counseling is necessary and should be incorporated into prenatal care by a doctor, midwife or nutritionist in order to ensure both the teen mother and the baby get the necessary nutrients in terms of vitamins, folic acid, iron, etc. The teenage mother also needs to be counseled on the dos and don'ts of drinking and eating as well as the consequences of lack of proper nutrition which include anemia, low birth weight babies, premature pregnancies, etc. Francesconi, 2008()

Studies have shown that most of the teenage mothers (68%) are usually users of drugs and alcohol including cigarettes Anastasiow, 1987.

None of these substances that are abused by the teenagers are safe enough to be used during pregnancy. However, the teenagers tend to continue their usage even after getting pregnant. This can be attributed to the late testing for pregnancy and the fear of telling their parents and their friends. This leads to complications during pregnancy which place the lives of the mother and the baby at risk Roosa & Vaughan, 1984()

Teen abortion is legal in most states in the U.S. though it requires parental permission or notification. However, it is important to use counseling to institute a pro-choice approach whereby the teenagers should be able to see that even though the baby may seem to be an inconvenience or a difficulty in terms of fending and raising it, there are other choices like giving up the child for adoption or giving the child to a children's home Medoff, 1998.

Therefore, they should make any decision to abort based on this knowledge that there are other alternatives.

Premature births and also low birth weight babies usually bear a lot of problems during development. These include damage to their brains, physical disabilities, hypertension, heart disease, and even death Card, 1981.

In Europe and most of the developed countries in the world, the preterm birth rate ranges from 5-9%. However, in the U.S. this is much higher at 12-13% Hotz, McElroy, & Sanders, 2005.

This is as a result of lack of prenatal care for the teenage mothers.

Premature births and low birth weight account for a significant amount that is spent on health care in the U.S.A study that was conducted in 2003 in the U.S. determined that the neonatal costs of premature birth are about $224,000 if the baby is between 500 and 700 grams as compared to $1,000 for a child who is about 3kg. The costs also increase in an exponential manner as the gestational age and weight of the baby decreases. Another study conducted in 2007 found that about 550,000 babies who are born in the U.S. prematurely cost the country about $26 billion every year in the Newborn intensive care units (NICUs). The real cost of premature babies is estimated to top $50 billion Hotz et al., 2005()

As they grow, the children of teenage mothers tend to suffer from poor health unlike children of adult mothers and also compared to the children of women who were about 20-21 years of birth at getting pregnant. 60% of children of non-teen mothers were rated to be in "excellent" condition as compared to 38% for the children who are born to teenage mothers. The study also showed that for those children born and raised by teenage mothers without assistance of their mothers, the risk of having poor health are even higher Fergusson & Woodward, 2000()

The children who are born to the youngest teenage parents are at an even higher risk of being an indicated case of child neglect or child abuse Adams, Sharon, & Pittman, 1989.

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