Parenting Stress, Social Support, and Depression for Ethnic Minority Adolescent Mothers Impact on Child Development

Culture plays a vital role in shaping human behavior. It influences on the brain functioning of a person and shapes the way an individual behaves. In the article under study the authors describe in the article that frequency that the African American adolescent girls become pregnant is greater than the White adolescents, and when the adolescent African American women become pregnant, they face more stress as compared to their white peers. It is because of the cultural differences lies between the two.

They further add that there are many factors which contribute to this situation and discusses the effects of caused by this experience of becoming pregnant in such age. They describe that the probability of adverse development increases in these cases as the mothers are vulnerable to many issues. The effects also include depression and dropouts from school. However, the economic disadvantage is above all. Finally, the authors aim to examine the influence that an adolescent mother’s parenting stress and the perceived social support as a cultural aspects in the African American environment that result in the maternal depression and infant development.

Further, there is a notion that the adolescents who experience pregnancies for the first time experience additional stress. They are more prone to the negative emotions when they are associated with this experience (Hans and Thullen 2009). Such type of exposure may result in the healthy developments of their children. These children may face higher risks of adverse development where the developmental delays and other social, emotional problems may create problems for them in the future (Lanzi et al. 2009). These high level of risks also contain the tendency to lead the child towards death in the early age of development that is mostly in the first year of life (Coley 1998). Thus, for this reason, the author considers it essential to talk about this issue. Also, the social environment that incorporates these factors cause hindrance to development and can affect the brain functioning in various way, stress and depression are the most common results.

The research studies suggest that there are some health issues that the adolescent parents face, they have different health needs, and the young parents require significant support over the parenting role they are expected to play before and after giving birth to their infants. Also, the areas where more care is needed must be taken into consideration by the pediatricians such as maternal nutrition, infant growth, and the emotional health as well. The adolescent poses a unique challenge to the healthcare providers. They have their own health needs, and their infants require the sensitive level of treatment as well. Further, the additional education along with the necessary level of support around them to take care of their infant is also essential. The first time adolescent mothers need to adapt themselves to their new roles. During this phase, the postpartum period that remains 4 to 6 weeks is contained immense importance. Finally, the adolescent pregnancies and the parenting issues are becoming a significant public health problem as the Association of Women’s Health Obstetric, 1998 suggest that when the adolescent pregnancies compound the problems.

To address the dimension that has been taken in this article Cindy Y. Huang, Jessica Esteines, Joy S. kaufman and baseline Ayala contributed their efforts so that the experiment they had undertaken would have been in a position to provide increased accuracy. The Thesis statement of this article talks about the ethnic minority that includes African American and the Latina adolescent and checks the effect of parenting stress and social support and its impact on the development of an infant. The factors considered under this article are shaped by the culture of a society. The intensity depends on the culture of the society the way it takes the matter and responds to it. The negative outcomes resulted after exploring the situation of these adolescents in African American environment reflect the negativities posed by the culture over these individuals that not only harm the mothers but cause the adverse development of the infant as well. To find out the results, the authors took 180 adolescent mothers belonging to the ethnicities mentioned as their target audience that include African American and Latino living in the urban area in the Northeast. The authors further determined the potential differences which could have been found within the variables understudy while experimenting their proposition between the control group and the other.

The experiment took two groups. One is intervention group of adolescent mothers who were financially disadvantageous and these were recruited through their schools and were matched by a comparison group based on multiple factors such as age, ethnicity, etc. the group is taken as a control group. The study also analyzed the variables of interest so that it could determine the potential difference between these two groups. However, no difference was found in both cases as the depression, parental stress and the lack of perceived social support have the same effects on both type of groups thus both the groups were combined to analyze the variables of interest.

To measure the stress of the participants, a 36 item measure was used. This measure was a Parenting Stress Index-Short Form. The index included a Likert scale to gauge the responses of the participants. The data was collected regarding all the variables. The variable of perceived social support was also measured through a Multidimensional scale which is used for the perceived social support. It is a 12-item measure which assesses the variable on three levels that include friends, family and significant other. Participants were evaluated on this variable on all levels, and global support was also assessed in under this. Further, maternal depression was assessed by using the survey provided by the Reynold’s Adolescent Depression survey (Reynolds 2002). This instrument helped the authors in determining the level of severity of the depression symptoms in the adolescents.

The theoretical framework developed by the authors to present the relationship of variables understudy provides a vivid picture and the theme of this article. The theoretical framework further suggests that the parenting stress of the adolescent mothers and the perceived social support given to them relates to the maternal depression at 6 months and also the infant development at year 1 if the infant development and the maternal depression is controlled at the base line. It is essential to understand the theoretical framework to understand proposition of the authors in the article and to match the results obtained after analyzing the data and so that it could be inferred that either the hypothesis made are accepted or rejected. Moreover, the results suggested those adolescent mothers who experienced a high level of parenting stress and the low levels of perceived social support, had suffered high levels of maternal depression which remained after the six-month follow up. The results also affirmed that such maternal depression also caused developmental delays in infants as well.

Finally, the results suggested that the social support plays a pivotal role in the child development and it is not necessary that the adolescent only takes such help from her parents only. The authors prove this proposition by providing an experimental analysis, and the results verify the hypothesis that is being built by the authors. The argument made by the author is compelling because it contains immense importance in the lives of the mothers. There are various studies that discuss the same notion in different dimensions and the idea of the author along with the methodology used to analyze the impact on both factors the maternal stress level before and its effects on the child development along with the role of perceived social support provide us a comprehensive analysis and understanding of these factors. The authors have analyzed these notions on all the possible levels to cover it more closely and to find out more close to real results. The scales used for measuring the variables of interest were also sound and practical. Finally, it can be inferred that the attitude embedded in the culture of African American people fueled by the economic disadvantage they have over their White peers cause these adverse outcomes. Thus, to rectify the situation, the beliefs need alteration, and an opposite shift in the prevailing practices is required.

Coley, R. L., & Chase-Lansdale, P. L. (1998). Adolescent pregnancy and parenthood: Recent evidence and future directions. American Psychologist, 53(2), 152–166.

Hans, S. L., & Thullen, M. J. (2009). The relational context of adolescent motherhood. In C. H. Zeanah (Ed.), Handbook of Latinas: A mediation analysis. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 42(3), 186–196. doi:10.1363/4218610.

Lanzi, R. G., Bert, S. C., & Jacobs, B. K. (2009). Depression among a sample of first-time adolescent and adult mothers. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 22(4), 194–202.

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