If you spend enough time watching daytime talk shows, you are guaranteed to come across one devoted to pregnant teenagers who have decided to keep and raise their babies. If you listen to enough of theses young women, you will get a fairly good idea of how skewed their understanding of parenthood can be.
One of the most disturbing realities of teen pregnancy and parenting, however, is that the younger the expectant mother is, the less ability she has to recognize her own lack of preparedness for what lies ahead.
Surveys have shown that most expectant teens, not matter how old, believe that by having a child they will at last have found a bond with another person, and even think the child will bond them to its father. But younger teens not only seem to be relying on their coming child to provide them with emotional connectedness; they seem to have no true grasp of the how the realities of teen pregnancy and parenting will change their lives.
There are approximately half a million births to US women below the age of twenty every year. One of the sadder realities of teen pregnancy and parenting is that many teenaged girls who become pregnant are so ignorant about reproductive matters that they do not realize their condition until well into the pregnancy.
This is especially alarming because so many birth defects can result from the behaviors an expectant mother engages in during her first trimester. Even worse, many teenagers are afraid to acknowledge their pregnancies until it is impossible to hide them, or will even cut down on their food intake in and attempt to keep the pregnancy from showing.
Such behavior means that two of the other realities of teen pregnancy and parenting are a higher incidence of low birth weight babies and undernourished mothers who may have a longer postpartum recovery period and be even less able to properly care for their newborns.
A 2006 study of 247 expectant teenagers, headed by Dr. Cynthia Rosengard, of Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University Medical School questioned the young women, aged from 12 to 19, about their motivations for becoming pregnant. Almost one-quarter of them admitted to consciously deciding to have a child.
And it appears that one of the more common realities surrounding teen pregnancy and parenting is that younger girls believed that they could become friends with their children because of their closeness in age.
Alarmingly, another of the young ladies thought that one or the realities of teen pregnancy and parenting was that by having her baby at fifteen, she could pursue a career as an adult because the child would be old enough to fend for itself. Another one thought that having a baby would teach her some responsibility and keep her away from drugs.
But about 50% of the girls over eighteen admitted that they were not prepared for the realities of teen pregnancy and parenting. There appeared to be an improved understanding of those realities as the ages of the women increased.
The idea of children having children, it seems, is not a good one to anybody but the children themselves.