Date Presented 04/21/2023

This study aims to understand how school-based parenting programs affect the occupational performance of teen mothers in their dual roles as both student and parent. Results show that individual support and community are particularly important in supporting success.

Primary Author and Speaker: Libby Hladik

Additional Authors and Speakers: Marie Hynek, Lan Vo

Contributing Authors: Karla Ausderau

PURPOSE: Parenthood is the leading reason that adolescent girls drop out of school [1]. Teen mothers are at a higher risk of delays in cognitive and social developments [2] and if they do receive a high school diplomas are less likely to pursue a secondary education than those without children [2,3]. Access to resources such as prenatal care, childcare, family planning services, and parenting education are often challenging for teen parents [4]. New parents need to learn how to balance previous occupations with the multiple new ones they must learn such as child safety, child development, behavior management, and occupational balance.

DESIGN & METHOD: Using a qualitative phenomenological approach, we aimed to explore the lived-experience and impact of high school parenting programs on daily parenting for teens using semi-structured interviews. Current and alumni (N=15) of a local parenting program participated in one-on-one interviews that were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Interviews were de-identified and NVivo was used to support thematic analysis. An interview guide was used and incorporated topics such as how students got involved in the parenting program, regular education and parenting classes, experiences with parenting, skills gained from the program, and potential challenges experienced. In analysis, common themes were identified and used to develop a coding scheme. Three independent coders compared their initial coding and synthesized the data into themes. Final themes were presented to the stakeholders for member checking.

RESULTS: Preliminary results from data analysis indicate that highly individualized supports and a culture of supporting parents in positive parenting strategies lead to motivation and interest in future academic and personal success. Students noted strong relationships with staff and teachers as key to their success. Additionally, student mothers indicated that accommodations for parenting, such as transportation and childcare, were necessary.

CONCLUSION: Understanding the lived-experiences of teen parents balancing the dual roles of parent and student is essential for school-based parenting programs to prepare their students for academic and parenting success. This study contributes to the literature on how school-based parenting programs impact student outcomes. Our study findings provide recommendations on strategies to support teen parents in the school setting, including the involvement of occupational therapy practitioners to support both parent and child.

IMPACT STATEMENT: This study provides evidence for educators and policy makers to make decisions for parenting program education and needed supports for teen parents that impact the educational and social outcomes of both parent and child. Additionally, this study’s occupational perspective can influence the involvement of occupational therapy practitioners in parenting programs for teens.


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