|Happiness Home Page||
Separate Search Page
|Purpose||Write To Karl Loren||Table Of Contents|
|Role Model||You Can Help!|
Historical Changes in the Transition
There have been many changes throughout the past three hundred years in the way children and adolescents are taught about becoming parents. The transition to parenthood, as it is called, has transformed because of changes in society, changes in family structure and also changes in the adolescents themselves. When the times change, ways of life have to change as well. With the onset of wars (American Revolution in 1775, the Civil War in 1861 and the Vietnam War in 1959, for example), industrialization, the rural to urban shift, smaller family sizes, divorce and single parenthood, it can be easily understood why these certain changes have occurred.
The following information is going to discuss the family structure, the prevalence of teenage pregnancy and parenthood education throughout history and recognize the differences between three time periods. The three time periods are:
In the industrial period, there was a division of labor among all family members. The father worked hard on the farm while the mother worked hard at the house. The children were expected to help their parents out as much as they possibly could. These adult roles helped the adolescents to prepare for adulthood and for when they would have families of their own. The child rearing practices evolved during this time period. For the first time, children were not thought of as miniature adults and the concept of adolescence began to emerge during this period(1).
In the modern period and today, the family structure has changed once again but in some ways, has just added on to previous ideas. Child rearing practices generally stayed the same with a few additions. Social scientists have fostered society’s current beliefs and perceptions concerning children’s roles and functions in the family(1). There has been increasing stress in the past 25 years as a result of the structural changes within the family. Some of these stresses include:
of Teenage Pregnancy
There is not much data on the pre-industrial and industrial time periods on the issue of teenage pregnancy. This may be because it was not a major crisis back then as it is in the present time. Back in the 17 and 1800s, having a baby when you were 15, 16, and 17 years old was the norm. The reason why they started so early was to have as many children as they possibly could before they got to the age where they could not produce anymore. Adolescents’ back then did not have to worry so much about food and money and having someone there to support them through their pregnancy. They had everyone and everything they needed right around them – the farm they lived on provided food, large families provided support and their parents were there to support them financially.
On the other hand, the modern time period is much different. In the early
1930s to the 1990s, the total proportion of first births which were either
premaritally born or premaritally conceived to women 15-19 increased from
29 percent to 89 percent(2). And by 1990-1994, only 16 percent of
premaritally pregnant teen women were married before their first
birth(2). Teenagers today have those worries previously mentioned plus
many more. Some of the
major problems occur even before the baby is born. Adolescent mothers are
at an increased risk for anemia, prolonged labor and difficult labor(4).
Their babies are at a higher risk for prematurity, low birth weight,
neurological difficulties, respiratory difficulties and infant death(4).
Teenage mothers in today’s society are also more likely to have dropped
out of high school and suffer disruptions in their occupational careers.
They are more likely to stay in a low-income job therefore increasing
their chances of being on welfare(3).
The first type of parenthood education comes to mind when thinking about the pre-industrial and industrial periods. Young children and adolescents gained all their knowledge mainly from their parents and quite possibly picked up the things their parents did not tell them from their friends. That was all the adolescents in that time period had to count on plus the real life situations they experienced with their mothers, sisters, aunts and other family members.
The second type of parenthood education definitely encompasses the modern time period. There has been “research on the consequences of adolescent childbearing also suggests that many of the negative effects of having children early could be prevented or at least minimized by lessening the disruptive economic impact of teenage parenthood on young women’s lives” (3). There have been few strategies though that have been effective on a large scale. One approach involves school-based sex education and school-based health clinics where adolescents can gain information about sex and pregnancy and evaluations have proven that these programs actually reduce the rate of teen pregnancy(3). But, the only downfall is that many parents do not approve of these types of programs in their community. Many policymakers have called for changes in the ways that schools treat pregnant students. Often the pregnant teens are treated as misfits and thought of as “bad girls”. They are not given the same respect that other students receive. Some of the most important changes are adaptations in the school schedules and the development of school-based child-care centers(3). This way, the teen mothers are able to stay in school after their child is born and they are given the same opportunity to get an education.
One other program that has been
implemented in high schools that started out in Syracuse, New York, is the
Young Mothers Educational Development (YMED) Program. This program
provides an alternative high school for pregnant and parenting
teenagers(4). The classes are taught so that students can continue to
earn academic credit and help is provided with daycare for their babies as
well as medical services(4). There are many different programs like this
one all across America and it is shown that the outcomes for the teenagers
who attend these alternative schools appear to be highly favorable.
1 Habenstein, Robert & Olson, Roberta Ann. (1992). Families and children in history. In Clarence Eugene Walker & Michael C. Roberts (Eds.), Handbook of clinical child psychology (pp. 3-17). New York: John Wiley & Sons.
2 Bachu, Amara. (1999). Trends in Premarital Childbearing: 1934 to 1994. Current Population Reports, U.S. Census Bureau, 23-197
3 Steinberg, Laurence. (1993). Adolescence. New York : McGraw-Hill Inc
4 Michaels, Gerald Y. & Goldberg,
Wendy A. (1988). The transition to parenthood: Current theory and
research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.