Many teens find themselves becoming parents much earlier than expected. There are both positive and negative aspects of having children at such a young age. Having a baby is a huge responsibility, and many teens find themselves unprepared to meet this type of life disruption and challenge. Others may use it as a source of and impetus for personal growth and change.
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Energy and Enthusiasm
Small children can be hard work, and a teenager has much more energy than an older parent. Teens can run and play with their children without getting winded or tired and are still young enough to remember entertaining games and activities in which to engage with their offspring. Their enthusiasm levels and still-youthful outlook can provide more active parental involvement in sports and vigorous play.
There are many teens whose lives have been turned around because of their children. They may have been on the road to destruction but when the arrival of a new baby became definite, they matured quickly to take on their new responsibilities. There are those who would have never dreamed of getting a responsible job, going to college or joining the military until they became teen parents. Once they realized that they were going to be responsible for another human being, they started to become a more mature and future-oriented person. They may have begun to work harder at staying in school, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and become more focused on long-term goals.
Most teen parents do not have the funds to raise their children adequately. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, "more than 60 percent of teen mothers live in poverty at the time of their child's birth." Their parents may have to step in and help provide for the new family. They do not have the experience or education to hold high-paying jobs, and the cost of childcare and living expenses may keep them from working at all. Relying on their families and government and other charitable organizations may become their only alternative to sheltering, feeding and clothing their child and themselves.
Many teens lack the maturity to take on the care of an infant or young child. They may be more focused on their friendships, relationships or going out and having a good time. Again, the parents of teens may end up taking on the roles of babysitters and providers. Inexperienced and resentful teens are more likely to neglect or abuse their children and may need the extra support of parenting classes and counseling.