TEENAGE MOTHERS

Becoming a parent permanently and profoundly alters a teenager\'s life.
Most of the girls forget about their dreams of happy marriage, college is
almost always out of the question, graduating High School becomes a goal most
teenage moms don\'t achieve. Young girls having babies isn\'t new, as a matter
of fact, teenage parenthood was higher in the 1950 then it is today, but
things were different. Most of the girls were eighteen or nineteen and many
of them already married. Only a few of single mothers actually kept their
babies.
Today many mothers are fifteen or sixteen years old. Some are even as
young as twelve. Fathers contribute little or nothing to the care of the
baby, therefore it\'s even harder for the mother. All of a sudden the girl is
thrown into the world of responsibilities and duties, where the baby\'s needs
come before her own. She is expected to balance her school or a job with the
full time task of raising a baby. Her world is changed from her world of
dates, parties, sleepovers and waiting for a Saturday so you can sleep late,
to the world of doctor appointments, diapers, baby formulas, bills, and day
care.
Experts say that girls have babies from lack of self-esteem. "Too often,
adolescent pregnancy is what happens to poor kids," says psychologist Judith
Musick. "It can be a symptom of having no better options." They need someone
to love and someone to love them back. What\'s cuddlier and cuter than a baby
is? A baby gives them something to look forward to and something that gives
meaning to their life. Studies show that a lot of teenage mothers come from
poverty and some of them don\'t know any better. There\'s definitely a lack of
education but it doesn\'t have a direct relationship to race or ethnic
background. A lot of teenage moms don\'t think that they have anything to
lose by having a baby.
Communities and Governments have tried to help out teenage mothers but
sometimes what they do just isn\'t enough. There is After-School Care for
young adolescents and there are community learning centers. In 1984 about 8.7
million girls were living with a baby and without the father. Only 58% of
those girls have been awarded child support. Of those who were supposed to
get child support in 1983, only half received the amount due. Twenty-six
percent received partial payment and 24% had gotten no payments at all.
Federal, state, and local funds must be provided for after school programs
for young mothers. Legislative initiatives have to provide authorization to
help communities start and operate a variety of programs that could be run by
schools or churches or some kind of agencies.
Unmarried teenage moms, by contrast, are the hearts of underclass
problem. Giving birth to children whom will never have a father and who
sometimes spend a lifetime on welfare. There\'s a special program to help
moms under 18 which provides a place to live, if the girl doesn\'t have any,
like a church or a shelter. The girls are also provided with parental
instructions, supervised childcare, and insist on finishing high school.
There\'s also allowance and training sessions. Some of the mothers are given
federal financing and a mixture of public and private management.
Maybe, if the mothers would be given another chance, they would have
taken a different path, and not have kids at such an early age. They have
probably learned their lesson and suffered the consequences. First they\'d
finish their education, get a good job with a good salary, then get married,
start a family and support it.
Approximately 60% of children born to teenagers who are not married, and the
ones, who live and are not adopted, will receive welfare! "Teenage
childbearing cost the nation $16.6 billion in the year of 1985, and 385,000
children who were the first born of teenagers in that year will receive $6
billion in the next 20 years," said a certain study. "The first baby born to
a teenager will receive $15,620 in welfare payments and other government
support by the time that child reaches 20."- Study released by the privately
financed Center for Population Options. By the time these babies will reach
20, the Government