Teenage Childbearing as a Public Issue and Private Concern
Annual Review of Sociology (Impact Factor: 4.44). 08/2003; 29(1):23-39. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.29.010202.100205
Key Words family change, public policy s Abstract Teenage childbearing has been a topic of sociological research, public discourse, and political discussion since the mid-1960s. It is surprising that the intensity and topics of the discussion over this period have corresponded poorly with research on the rates and consequences of teenage childbearing. This essay chronicles the history of the issue of early childbearing and my contributions to this field of study.
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- "Because teens have not usually built enough human capital for stable socioeconomic prospects, this may be problematic in the long term, despite short-term social approval and practical and emotional support. Regardless of which of these choices they made, teen parents were in a double bind resulting from their stigmatized assumption of the adult role of parent while still in the socially recognized stage of adolescence (Furstenberg, 2003). Because the parenting demands on mothers are much higher than on fathers if they are to receive social approval (Hays, 1996), the double bind is stronger for young women than men. "
ABSTRACT: Marriage promotion policy agendas have focused research attention on coparenting relationships, but little is known about coparenting among teen parents. Using qualitative interviews with 76 teen mothers and fathers supplemented with site observations at a school and clinic, the authors investigated coparenting relationships and those relationships' embeddedness in extended families and social institutions. They identified prevalent coparenting trajectories and analyzed individual-, interaction-, and institutional-level influences on coparenting. Coparenting trajectories diverged depending on whether the couple stayed together and assumed traditionally gendered parenting roles. Participants perceived that coparenting relationships strongly shaped their current and future socioeconomic, emotional, and practical circumstances and their success at “being there” for their child. Extended families, institutions, and social programs often pushed teen parents apart, although many participants felt they needed a functional relationship with the other parent. Coparenting relationships, considered jointly with extended families and social institutions, are fundamental for understanding teen parenthood and shaping effective social policies.
- "Children from poverty disproportionately join the early-family-formation group, while children from homes with adequate incomes are more likely to invest in completing post-secondary education (Furstenberg, 2003; Kerckhoff, 1993). These differences reflect disparities in the opportunity structures of society. "
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- "As Kelly (1996) notes, however, " the discourses do not compete as equals; some carry little weight and are marginalized, whereas others are considered authoritative and dominant " (423). While academics were once considered the authoritative experts on the topic of teenage childbearing, they are increasingly no longer so, as their research, if presented at all, is often juxtaposed by conservative pundits or researchers who continue to claim the devastating effects of teen childbearing on young women, their families, and society at large (Furstenberg 2003; 2007; Kelly 1996). In fact, as Furstenberg (2007) documents, the press often actively ignore the most significant conclusions of academic reports if those conclusions present a different narrative than the traditional one which insists that teen childbearing ruins lives and communities. "
ABSTRACT: It is a generally accepted finding in the sociological literature as well as in public discourse that adolescent mothers are less likely than their non-parenting counterparts to graduate high school and to attend college. For several decades, however, researchers have pointed out that the implied causal process from teen motherhood to academic failure has been largely unsupported by empirical research. In fact, scholars have recently argued that motherhood may actually serve as a positive turning point in the lives of young women. Using a sample of young African American women, the present study assesses the degree to which teen motherhood not only affects college aspirations but also expectations. Further, it tests the ability of these effects to explain the well-known educational attainment gap between teen mothers and their non-childbearing peers. Results indicate that, in general, young mothers' college aspirations are similar to those of non-mothers, but that their generally high aspirations for academic success appear to be effectively countered by their decreased educational expectations.