All parents face challenges as their children grow and develop. Many of these challenges are the same for teen parents and older parents. But teen parents may face some unique challenges, like trying to complete their education while caring for a baby. They may also be criticized for being a teen parent or for being overwhelmed with the responsibilities of raising children at such a young age.
Weighing in on this topic, Cierra Fisher, Licensed Therapist and Program Specialist, said, “Teen parents definitely have to face more hardships as compared to those who became parents later in their lives. Primarily because of financial and career instability.”
She continued, “With that said, it doesn’t mean that their children won’t have a fulfilling life as well and won’t get the same opportunities that children who don’t have teen parents get.”
What matters most to a child is not the age of the parents, but what the parents do. Children grow and develop well when parents nurture them in warm, sensitive, responsive, and flexible ways.
Building a relationship with the baby as a teenage parent
The relationship we build with our child from birth through infancy is the foundation of our child’s health and development. A strong relationship with parents keeps children safe and allows them to learn and explore with confidence. A strong relationship also helps us better understand and meet our children’s needs.
Here are some ways teenage parents can build a strong relationship with their baby or toddler:
- Bond with the baby. You can do this by hugging your baby, looking them in the eyes while talking to them, smiling, and playing.
- Learn more about baby behavior and development. This will help you understand what to expect for your baby’s growth and development.
- Know your baby’s cues and body language. This will help you understand how your baby is feeling and what they need.
- Follow your baby’s cues about when to eat, play, and sleep. This will help develop a flexible routine for your baby.
- Play with your child. Playing is a great relationship builder. It is also the main way that children learn and grow at a young age.
How do relationships with others affect parenting as a teenage parent?
Teen relationships are often full of emotional ups and downs. Also, having a baby or young children can put extra pressure on other relationships they have. For example, lack of sleep and less time with their partner can lead to disagreements and conflicts.
Strong, healthy relationships aren’t just good for them, they can also affect their child’s development. For example, if the child sees kind and respectful relationships around them, they will learn to be kind and respectful to others.
Cierra says, “Some of the ways that we can assure that the children of teen parents get the same opportunities are by providing full support to teen parents. Research demonstrates that teenagers who do receive complete family support upon getting pregnant have to face fewer hardships as parents. Research also reinforces the positive impact of community support. I highly recommend teen parents take advantage of community resources due to this, whether it is a teen pregnancy support group or parenting classes.”
So as a parent of a teenager, it pays to work on your relationships with others. Here are some ideas:
- If you have a partner, work on proactive communication with them. Proactive communication means listening, talking, and solving problems.
- Take the time to connect with your friends. It helps to plan ahead and be flexible.
- Join a Playgroup. Playgroups are great for your child’s learning and development and are a great way to meet parents your age. You can find playgroups for teen parents.
- Contact your local community center or council for young parents’ support groups. This type of group can provide emotional support and information about child development and health care.
Cierra winds up by saying, “If teen parents get the support they need, it is evident that they can raise their children to have a happy, fulfilling life and that they too can too.”