The girl child faces challenges daily in different parts of the world, especially when she becomes a mom in her teenage years.
The joy that fills the hearts of family members when a child is born is unmatched. The joy about what the future holds for that child and the blessings that come to the household as a child is born.
However, this is not the case when teenage pregnancy occurs. The home is filled with tension and pain. The parents make moves to locate the father of the child or disassociate from him in a case of abuse. The family is never the same. A child has brought another child into the world.
An adolescent mother is a young girl between the ages of 13 and 19 who has given birth to a child. Research shows that over 10 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are teenage mothers.
This is more rampant in developing and underdeveloped countries. Especially where the struggle to get basic amenities like food, shelter and clothing for the average man is high.
Effects of Adolescent Mothers On Child Development
Just like the decisions we make affect the lives of those around us. Therefore, teenage pregnancy and birth can affect the all-round development of a child in the following ways;
1. Educational Challenges
Most adolescent mothers have to drop out of school to care for their new babies. This is because the majority of them experience a form of stigmatisation from family members and loved ones.
The life of their child is thus affected because they won’t have the financial capacity to enrol their kids in school.
2. Inability to Achieve Milestone
Growing up, we had dreams we wanted to achieve in different stages of our lives. These dreams kept us awake at night and spurred us into action the next day. They were the reason of our existence.
Teenage pregnancy makes most young girls give up their childhood dreams like a bucket of cold water quenching a flame. This loss of self could make them resent their child after a few days of birth, leading possibly to prolonged postpartum depression.
In addition, this can be a burden for a child to bear, knowing that they cut short the dreams of their mother.
3. Tension between Parent and Child
Rising tensions can exist between a teenage mother and her child regarding growth and child development. Most adolescent mothers are still trying to know and develop themselves, this can affect the relationship they have with their child.
Furthermore, since they are still young adults, they won’t have the qualities and know-how to navigate certain periods of their child’s life.
4. Lack of Parenting Skills
It takes two to tango and it takes two individuals to ensure that a child develops into a responsible person. It is a lot of responsibility that shouldn’t be shouldered by one person since most adolescent mothers don’t receive support from family.
Furthermore, they have no prior knowledge of parenting, which only increases the chances of their children making the same mistakes they made.
Apart from the inability to get access to a good education because of funds, adolescent mothers struggle to make ends meet financially. They struggle to pay rent, meet up with medical bills or have a little extra left for fun.
This is a result of low educational qualifications since most of them had to drop out of school. The child has little or no access to quality care.
6. Health Risks
Since adolescent mothers are still “growing children” they are at a high risk of contracting several illnesses that can affect the development of their child like low birth weight, premature birth and a high rate of neonatal mortality.
Coupled with the lack of finances, their child may not have access to medical care that caters to these challenges.
7. Social Discrimination
In some communities and countries, children born out of wedlock experience social discrimination. Their colleagues might make fun of them at school, making snide remarks about their upbringing and the whereabouts of their absent dad.
They can also be prevented from partaking in certain activities and in extreme cases, they can be bullied. This can affect the emotional and mental health of the child.
8. Strained Family Relationships
Family relationships between mother-daughter, father-daughter and siblings can become strained if teenage pregnancy occurs. The parents are not pleased with the actions of their child and may find it difficult to relate amicably with that child at the initial stages.
Other family members can also find it difficult to maintain existing relationships with the teenage mother. This tension can be passed to the child who doesn’t receive adequate love from family members.
Most teenage pregnancies occur through sexual abuse and lack of sexual education. However, it is a no-brainer that the female child feels the brunt of the consequences that come with it.
A lot of countries are focused on the prevention of teenage pregnancies, neglecting to put measures in place that cater for adolescent mothers. This only increases the health and financial risk that they go through.
Adolescent mothers should be given priority in the healthcare system and be positioned to receive the right love and care from their loved ones to help them scale through this stage of their lives.
Researched By: Aduloju Oluwatoyosi Afolabi