Young motherhood provides its own challenges

Being a parent is not the easiest thing to do. Changing diapers, preparing bottles and sleepless nights are just a few of the things that parents face when they have a baby.

Research, including “Counting It Up- The Public Cost of Teen Childbearing: Key Data,” released in June 2011, has shown that becoming pregnant while in your teens can create additional difficulties for both the parents and the child.

“Childbearing during adolescence negatively affects the parents, their children, and society,”  according to the Office of Adolescent Health of the US Department of Health and Human Services website. “Compared with their peers who delay childbearing, teen girls who have babies are less likely to finish high school, more likely to rely on public assistance, more likely to be poor as adults and more likely to have children who have poorer educational, behavioral and health outcomes.”

Most students at Cosumnes River College seemed to agree with HHS, that waiting to get pregnant may be the best thing to do.

“Stay in school, get a job, don’t focus on kids until you’re established in life,” said Robert Favila, 20, a computer engineering major.

Favila recalled a few people that got pregnant while in high school and it didn’t always end well for them.

“There have been a lot of miscarriages in high school which is heartbreaking to see,” Favila said.

At least one child of a single-parent household agrees that waiting to get pregnant is the best decision to make.

“You need to do your best to wait to have kids until you can actually afford it,” said Caitlin King, 18, an agricultural business major. “It’s not really fair to the kid if you can’t support [them].”

While teen pregnancy may present challenges, it is not impossible to succeed in life if you are a young parent.

“It’s difficult, but I think that if you work hard and persevere you can get through it,” said Kai Graham, 19, a film and media studies major. “My mom was a single mom at 21, so she was still in college, but she’s doing really well for herself and I turned out okay.”

Graham’s mother graduated college and is now an elementary school principal but hers is not a typical story.

“Teen mom’s have a ridiculously low percentage of completing college,” said James Frazee, a professor of psychology who teaches human sexuality at Cosumnes River College. “That’s a real travesty.”

Frazee believes it is up to parents to educate their children about sex and sexuality, but acknowledges that it can be a difficult subject.

“Despite the fact that I talk every day about penises and vulvas, vaginas, pregnancy, chlamydia and whatnot to people, when I am going to be talking to my boys it will still be intensely anxiety provoking,” Frazee said.

While there are many difficulties associated with being a teen parent, there are advantages as well.

Teens can recover quickly from losing a night of sleep, something older parents may not be able to do so well, Frazee said.

While being a young parent can create unique challenges, parenting is not an easy thing to do no matter what your age.

“Being a teen parent is not the end of the world,” Frazee said. “But it certainly does group you into a group of people that are going to have more difficulties in life.”