As soon as the words “I’m pregnant” come out of your teenage daughter’s mouth, a roller coaster of emotions begins for both a teenage single mother and parents. Although a teenage single mother and parents can share the same emotions, they often are coming at them from different perspectives.
The primary emotion a teenage single mother is feeling is fear. A teenage single mother and parents share in the emotion of fear, but whereas the parents may fear how the child will impact their economic and social standing, the teenage mother is more fearful of the bodily changes she is anticipating. She can also be afraid of telling her parents and how they will react. If her family’s culture is such that honor killings or forced marriages are a part of it, then the teen mother may fear for her safety and her future.
The teenage single mother may feel guilty for being a burden on her family and causing more stress. She may feel guilty for engaging in sexual intercourse. If she comes from a restrictive culture, she may feel guilt for disgracing the family honor. She may feel guilty she can’t provide her child with the things in life that she would have liked to provide.
A teenage single mother and parents also share the emotion of guilt but the parents may feel guilty of failing their daughter or of protecting her from becoming pregnant. They may feel guilty that the daughter is struggling.
While the initial disappointment for parents of teen single mothers is abrupt, a teenage single mother may initially not show signs of depression until the stresses of day-to-day life as a single parent become clear. If the family is supportive and not antagonistic about the pregnancy, the single mother stands a better chance of avoiding a major depressive episode.
The statistics show that teenage single mothers suffer depression at higher rates than the general population, with a 40% higher rate of incidence. The stresses of being a single parent and the lack of support, whether it’s financial or emotional, build an environment that leads to depression. Teen single mothers need help in maintaining their emotional health so they can be there for their children.
Despite the risks of emotional turmoil for a teenage single mother and parents, the birth of a baby is a joyful event. It continues the lineage of a family and can bring a family closer together. It is hard work and a path fraught with emotional ups and downs, but it is doable and many single mothers look back with a sense of achievement.