Most families do not want to hear that their teenage daughter is pregnant. However, teenagers of different cultures can face more severe expectations. When a teenage single mother’s family is an ethnic minority or of a particular faith that has cultural beliefs that value virginity or has specific maternal expectations, her choices may become limited and her life planned for her from the moment she announces she is pregnant. In worst-case scenarios, her family may not support her and turn her out as a disgrace, or seek to harm her before the child is born.
The Issue Of Virginity
Some cultures won’t talk about sex in the home. Sex education, especially for females, is not encouraged. However, the cultural standard of virginity may be upheld. These leaves many females in these cultures that value virginity not enough information on protection of birth control should they become sexually active.
In addition, once a teenager becomes pregnant, the teenage single mother’s family may insist the adolescent marry early or live at home to raise the child. Adoption and abortion may not be considered options in different cultures or faiths. Either way, the teenage mother’s education is curtailed and her chances at becoming a stable, independent provider for her children are stalled.
Other cultures may find the teenage mother’s condition so offensive to their family honor that they may try to harm the expectant mother or abandon her. It’s important to have counseling for the teenage single mother’s family as well as the adolescent mother to take into account cultural and religious belief systems if this is the case.
The Issue Of Marriage
In some cultures, a teenage must marry to protect the family honor. It doesn’t matter what her age is, if she’s pregnant, she has to marry. In the U.S., minors aren’t allowed to marry without the consent of their parents. Marriage is seen differently in other cultures, and arranged marriages for a teenage girl to a much older men are arranged to avoid having a teenage single mother, a cause of much disgrace in other cultures.
However, once she is pregnant a teenage single mother’s family will pressure her into marrying if their culture demands it. The lack of support for unwed mothers in other cultures causes emotional trauma and can lead to a suicide of a young single mother.
Counselors and schools that deal with other cultures are often not aware of the difference in how different cultures influences the expectations of a teenage single mother’s family. As more and more immigrants come to America to seek a better life, the issue of teenage single mothers and the different cultural norms and expectations can make getting help for teen mothers a more sensitive issue requiring more in-depth cultural understanding and counseling.