According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2011 there were 329,797 babies born to teens between 15 and 19 2. While parenting as a teen is certainly problematic in many ways, even young parents who are in their early 20s can run into similar issues. Although parenting certainly can be rewarding, there are some definite disadvantages to being a young parent.
Becoming a young parent -- especially a teen parent -- may limit the level of education that a person attains. The National Conference of State Legislatures notes that roughly 50 percent of all teen moms graduate from high school 3. This is in comparison to a 90 percent graduation rate for girls who don't have babies. Young parents may not have the help or resources to complete high school, being forced to drop out instead of graduate. This eliminates the opportunity for a young parent who is a high school dropout to go to college or enroll in some form of higher education.
Hanging out with friends just isn't the same with a baby around. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a teen's social development typically includes a growing circle of friends. Becoming a young parent often means that the teen or early-20s parent must trade in typical social situations for diaper duty. Instead of going to parties, spending time at the mall with friends or spending a night at a dance club, young parents have a shift in responsibilities that includes staying at home and caring for their child. A perception of "missing out" on social activities can make a young parent resentful of her situation.
The 2011 USDA "Expenditures on Children by Families" notes that parents spend anywhere from $8,760 to $24,510 per year on a child, depending on their income level 4. Younger parents who haven't yet established themselves professionally or financially may not have an adequate income level to keep up with their child's needs. This is particularly true of teen parents who have not graduated high school. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there is almost a $10,000 difference between the average income that high school dropouts and high school graduates earn each year. Young parents who don't have the educational background to earn a higher annual salary may not have the funds necessary to support a family with a child.
Not all of the disadvantages of being a young parent affect Mom and Dad. According to the CDC, children of teen mothers have lower academic success and a higher high school dropout rate than children who are born to older parents. Additionally, the CDC notes that the daughters of teen mothers are more likely to become teen mothers themselves. Helping a child to overcome the obstacles that lead to these negative consequences is a distinct disadvantage that young parents may run into. For example, keeping a child interested in school can become difficult if the parent never actually completed a degree herself.
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