Children from homes run by teenage mothers have to face almost insurmountable obstacles in life. The incidents of depression and mental health problems, the lack of father figures, and the high rate of poverty often connected to children in homes run by teenage mothers put them at serious disadvantages when compared to children raised in nuclear families. Many people believe that the implementation of sex education in schools and the addition of more federal aid for single parents are major causes for the country’s high rate of teen pregnancies. When the true purpose of sex education and federal aid is to help strengthen the mother and her child so that they can eventually lead productive lives.
The absence of a father figure in the home brings about a chain reaction of dilemmas. The emotional problems that children suffer because there is no father in their life can be potentially hazardous to their future. Many children tend to be effected mentally because these powerful emotions have the potential to do permanent damage in a child’s life. Children may experience sadness and depression, aggressive behavior, frequent illness, difficulty in school, eating problems, and sleeping disorders.
Many children also suffer from various social difficulties and self-esteem problems that come along with living in a one-parent household. The pressure that children raised by teenage parents go through is tremendous. Children who don’t have fathers present in the home often feel unloved. There is no trauma as excruciatingly painful as parental rejection and there is probably no worse of a way to wreck a person’s life.
Males are affected differently by the absence of a father than females are. A boy needs a male role model in his life so that he can learn how to become a man. Children who don’t have good role models often choose negative, unsavory characters to mold themselves after. These children become susceptible to many of the dangerous risks associated with children who are raised by teenage parents. "Males that grow up in one-parent homes may gain negative personality traits like immaturity, laziness, and disrespect for women (Meurer, Meurer, & Holloway,1996)."
Females who grow up without fathers in the home usually end up having pre-marital sex (Hinckely, 1998). " They subconsciously want to make up for the affection that they didn’t receive from their fathers. They become too dependent on men because they want someone who can replace their father. These women usually don’t know how to relate to other males and they have the wrong idea about what a relationship should be like.
Girls may even grow up to hate men because of an unconscious resentment toward absent fathers. The shift from the traditional nuclear family to one-parent homes has been dramatic in the United States. "In many Western industrialized societies, the one-parent family is becoming more common and tolerated (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1999)." However they often have not proven to be successful.
"Since 1970, the percentage of children living with single parents has doubled, from 12 to 27 percent, because of the increases in the divorce rate and the number of unmarried parents. Single parent families now include more than 18 million children and comprise the most common non-nuclear family (Meurer, Meurer, & Holloway,1996)."
This is a startling statistic considering the fact that crime and poverty is directly related to children who are raised by teenage parents. People who are faced with the harsh reality of raising children are usually not prepared to handle the responsibility. A lot of men try to run away from the problem. They then reject their children and neglect to provide any kind of financial assistance for them. The mother is ultimately left alone to juggle the task of raising the children and earning all or most of the family income needed to support them. "Forty-one percent of these mothers have never been married (Hinckely, 1998). "
Most teen mothers have to rely on government aid like Welfare, W.I.C, Focus Hope, project housing, and Medicaid as relief. These mothers are only able to give their children the bare minimum for survival. I see this first hand because a lot of people I know currently have Medicaid insurance or at least receive a generous amount of financial aid from the government to attend college here at Aquinas. There are a lot of people who attend colleges all over the country thanks to financial aid and grants. Government aid is good and people who are in need deserve to receive it. After all it is the governments’ duty to ensure its people the right to pursue happiness. People should not be denied the chance to get health insurance, financial aid for tuition, decent housing and suitable food to eat because they are poor.
It seems unfair that these children have to suffer for the mistakes of their parents. Children raised by teenage parents are brought into a highly competitive world where they start life at a handicap. These children are automatically placed in the lower class. This is a powerful term because it encompasses every aspect of these children’s lives. From the rat-infested housing where they live to the poorly equipped schools that they attend. Low class is the word that describes their lives and their potential to become productive citizens.
Most working mothers who have had children too early are not qualified to get high paying jobs; therefore they must support their families with minimum wages and the little bit of money that they receive from the government. "Children who live in single parent homes, especially Hispanics and blacks, live below the poverty level (Hinckely, 1998). " People don’t choose to be poor. Circumstantial issues like poor education and lack of career opportunities cause poverty. The limited resources and the continuation of cutbacks in government programs keep people poor.
It is practically impossible for a single parent to raise kids, work a job, and pay all of the bills and utilities. The build up of all of these pressures causes enormous physical and mental stress on both the mother and child. It is the duty of American citizens to help out the people in need by supporting government aid and private charity institutions like the Salvation Army. People should not complain about helping teen mothers and their children because by helping these people in need they are helping to lover crime, illiteracy, and poverty rates all over the country.
Now that the country is realizing how the problem of teen pregnancy effects not only children, but also society at large, numerous options have become available for people who need help. Sex education is being taught in schools and clinics everyday. There are also many classes open to mothers on how to raise a child and how to teach values and ethics in the home. Ignorance about vital subjects like birth control methods, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, male/female relationships, love, dating, and marriage is a primary reason why there are so many pregnancies by teenage mothers. The more people are educated about pre-marital sex and it’s consequences, the more likely it is that teen pregnancy rates will decrease.
Teen pregnancy is a controversial issue because it effects society as a whole. Teenage mothers often raise children who never learn how to live productive lifestyles. Negative elements like drug addiction and crime seem to be the only outlets that are available to lonely, confused children who live in poverty-stricken cities. For many of these children there are only the options of dead-end jobs, jail or early death. Many of these children end up having their own children at an early age; therefore perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty, poor education, joblessness, and lack of hope for the future.
Teenage girls that get pregnant in our community become overwhelmed with the pressures of supporting their children financially while trying to instill morals and ethics in their lives. We as a community need to come together with the government and help these mothers out. The problems of a teenage mother and her children eventually become the problem of all of society. Children come first because they are our future. Every child in the country should be afforded an equal opportunity to succeed no matter its family, racial, or financial background. Supporting teen mothers and their families and educating people about the responsibilities and the risks of having sex can do this.
1. "Family" Encyclopedia Britannica Online http://search.eb.com/bol/topic?eu=118054&sctn=2 [Accessed December 2, 1999].
2. John R. Meurer; Linda N. Meurer; Richard L. Holloway. "Clinical Problems and Counseling for Single-parent Families." American Family Physician 54 (1996) : 864-868.
3. Gordon B. Hinckley. "The Teaching of Values: Putting the Father Back as the Head of the Family." Workshop. U.S Conference of Mayors. Salt Lake City. 15 Nov. 1998.