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Teen Dads: What’s Trending?

Teen Dads: What’s Trending?

 

Young fathers are just as important and integral to their children’s lives as young mothers are, but, it just so happens that we know a lot less about young fathers.

Past research on young parents has overwhelmingly focused on the mother, in part, this is due to limited data on fathers, as the child’s birth certificates often have no reference to the dad. A recent study by Child Trends that looked at teens who became fathers in 1997, and their later circumstance, shows some interesting patterns:

  • Almost one-half of the men who fathered a child as a teen have more than one child by the time they are between ages 22 and 24. 9% had a child with a woman who was not the mother of their first child.
  • Overall, 44% of the men in the sample who had fathered their first child while in their teens were living with that child at ages 22 to 24.
  • 17% of the teen dads did not live with any of their children, 18% lived in the same household with all of their children, and 14% lived in a household with some, but not all of their children.
  • A higher percentage of former teen fathers who were living with their first child at the time of the birth were living with that child during their early twenties compared with those who were not living with their first child at birth.

This suggests that if a teen dad is encouraged and supported to live with the child and its mother, the chances are better that he will stay involved and be part of the family in the future. Dads who aren’t living in the home when their child is born seem to find it easier to detach from the family later. Of course there are also moms and grandmothers who make it harder for young dads to stay involved – “gatekeeping” the child and restricting the father’s access. The research sample included 490 young men in the US who were between the ages of 13 and 19 at the birth of their first child.

Other research has found that young dads who have more than one child have reduced opportunities for education and economic stability. In a UK study, men who became fathers in their early twenties were twice as likely to be unemployed at age 30. Teen dads who father children with more than one partner have poorer relationship quality, decreased involvement with their children, reduced co-parenting and increased relationship conflict. However, there are many young dads who are committed to supporting their children and staying involved. These dads need supportive people and programs in their lives to motivate and help them.

We need to ensure that young people are getting information and support around contraception and the realities of pregnancy and parenthood. If young men aren’t informed and understanding of the possible outcomes of sex and relationships, we are eventually adding to the number of single-parent homes; statistically these are poorer and have worse outcomes for children on many levels. Father involvement isn’t a guarantee of success, but it has a huge impact on the future of the children of these families.

Check out Dads Make a Difference for some great resources on working with young fathers!

 

 

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Article courtesy
by David Sheftel

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Young Parent Outreach is a dynamic resource program providing services and support to young pregnant women, young moms and dads, and their children in the Greater Victoria area.

These services - provided by The Cridge Centre for the Family – are designed to give young pregnant women and young moms and dads the help and support network they need to have healthy babies and to be effective, successful parents. Whether it’s housing, income assistance, food back or dealing with child custody or substance abuse, The Cridge Young Parent Outreach program can help.

2 Comments

  1. I was a father at the age of 14. His mother was 16. I am white and grew up in a middle income household. I worked my ass off after school every day to pay my child support. Yes I finished High School. No I did not go to college. I had my son every other weekend and alternating holidays. We never went to court for anything involving our son. I had some support from my parents, though not much. She was the product of a broken home. His mother married when she was 19 to a man who was a very positive influence on my son. She stayed married to that man until her death of cancer at 36. I married when I was 21 and am currently still married to the same woman 20 years later. Yes, I am now 42. My son is 28 and married himself. He never got in to drugs or alcohol as a teen. Things do not always have to be doom and gloom when it comes to being a teen parent. Did I have a childhood, no. Would I change a thing about it, hell no. Teen fathers need support, they are just as scared as the mothers. We are the forgotten factor in teen pregnancy. Society expects teen fathers to shirk their responsibilities because we are "pieces of trash who only think about ourselves". These boys need positive influences and guidance. There should be more support groups for them as well. Just an "old" teen fathers two cents.

    • Thank-you for taking the time to respond to the Cridge Centre's Young Parent Outreach website and this article about 'Teen Fathers". I am so glad that you felt moved to share your story and what a great story it is! The amazing impact you had as a father on your child, especially at such a young age for both was admirable. I am glad that you found the resources and personal resiliency to stay focused on what was best for your son. It sounds like he has grown up to be an amazing and responsible young man and capable member of society. Good job!

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