CHFD 331 AMU week 7 lesson Adoption, Unmarried Parents American Military University
An increasing number of parents are experiencing parenthood without marriage. The circumstances vary widely. Some parents may live in two-parent households, but have chosen not to marry. Others may have become single parents by choice, assisted reproductive technology (ART), or may have experienced an unplanned pregnancy. A large number of single parents are single parents as a result of divorce, and a smaller number as the result of the death of a spouse. Single parents experience some issues that may be unique to their situation, particularly if they are not co-parenting with a partner.
Topics to be covered include:
- Statistics regarding nonmarital parenthood
- The experiences of teen and unmarried mothers and their children
- Identifying the role of single fathers
- How to help children function well through and after divorce
- How people become parents by adoption and assisted reproductive technology
Single parents include individuals of all social classes, ages and races. Some of the issues connected with single parenthood can be alleviated through co-parenting, close family ties, or lasting connections with friends. The experience of single parenthood is often defined by economic status; individuals who are not economically struggling will typically find single parenthood much less stressful than those that are.
In this lesson, you will learn about nonmarital parenthood, and how it plays out in the lives of different types of parents, including teen parents, single parents by choice and divorced, assisted reproductive technology, or widowed parents. Parents who are cohabiting, however, typically do not share the experiences of other single parents. Their experience is more in line with that of married parents in a two-parent household.
General Trends in Nonmarital Births
- By 2013, forty percent of all births in the United States were to unmarried parents (Brooks, 2013). Recent trends indicate that there more births to unmarried parents who cohabit rather than to mothers who are not living with the fathers of their children. Total numbers of nonmarital births include all births that occur to unmarried mothers, regardless of their situation. Many unmarried couples plan their children, and will have a parenting experience very much like of a married couple. Even though they are unmarried, they do not bear the economic burdens or challenges typically associated with single parenting.
- The largest age group of unmarried mothers are in their 20s. There have been decreases in teen parents and unmarried parents under age 35 years, but there are slight increases in unmarried parents over the age of 35 years (Curtin,Ventura, and Martinez, 2014). This increase may be related to the choice to parent alone, especially if a woman is unpartnered and nearing the end of her fertile years.
- Despite a general decrease in the teen birth rate in the last 20 years, the United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancies in developed countries (Brooks, 2013). The teen birth rate is most often calculated with births to mothers between 15 and 19 years old. Globally, according to the United Nations, the teen pregnancy rate has dropped dramatically. In 1960, nearly 90 girls out of 1000 would become pregnant between 15 and 19 years old. Today, the global average has dropped to only 44.8 girls in 2014. The U.S. teen pregnancy rate is 24.2 teen girls per 1000. In comparison, Canada’s teen pregnancy rate is 10.1 per 100 girls. In addition, one in six teen pregnancies occurs to girls who have already had a child. Between 1990 and 2010, teen pregnancy decreased by more than 50 percent (Hunter, 2012).
- Various factors may contribute to higher or lower teen pregnancy rates, including values and education, income inequality, and access to contraception.
Although teen sexual activity in the United States is similar to teen sexual activity in other industrialized nations, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate is higher because of ineffective contraceptive use (Brooks, 2013). In many other countries, teens are encouraged and expected to use contraceptives responsibly, thereby preventing the possibility of pregnancy.
These factors can all contribute to early motherhood in various ways. Some of these are relatively obvious; poverty and limited education, for instance, likely mean reduced access to contraceptive services. This also illustrates, for parents of teens, the importance of a close and affectionate relationship–parents can effectively help to prevent their teens from becoming parents too soon.
Many teens who become parents experience childhood and early adolescent life challenges in the following categories:
The teen’s social background includes poverty, having a teen parent, and limited education. Families of a higher economic status, with adult parents, and parents and
teens with more education are less likely to experience teen pregnancy and parenthood.
The teen’s relationship with their parents was less affectionate and involved, and they received less monitoring or supervision. A closer relationship with parents will reduce the risk of teen pregnancy.
The personality traits of the teen involved more aggression or withdrawal behaviors, and there were conduct issues at elementary and high school. Typically, students who have not experienced behavioral or conduct issues are less likely to become teen parents.
The teen experienced rejection in their relationships with peers in the elementary school years and had a tendency in high school to develop relationships with friends who engaged in at-risk behaviors. Strong and healthy social relationships help teens to make appropriate choices.
Experience with sexual abuse in childhood or early adolescence is more common with teen mothers (Brooks, 2013). Children who experience sexual abuse may be more likely to engage in sexually risky behavior.