Stresses Do to Pregnancy in Adolescent and the Cycle of Depression and Stress in the Young Family
by Luz Esther Rivera, M.S., M.Ed., B.C.E.T.S.

Abstract

Pregnancy and childrearing represents a source of stress for teen mothers. Research indicates that the adolescent approach their parenting role with additional problems including depression. Parents’ depression is associated with a negative impact on their children’s emotional, behavioral, cognitive and social well being (Billings & Moos, 1983). Investigators report the interaction between a depress mother and her child is characterized as insensitivity, unresponsive and hostile (Teti, Gelfand, Messinger and Isabella, 1995). This is a risk factor for the development of an insecure attachment. An insecure attachment is a risk factor for depression and stress in later life.

Adolescence is a time of transition between childhood and adulthood. It is necessary that parents and caretakers of adolescents be familiar with the psychosocial, cognitive and physical changes during this time. Research with adolescent have identified common events or situations related with stress; trouble with classmates, trouble with parents or family members, trouble with their couple, increased arguments between parents and serious illness or injury of family member. Adults should be aware on how these risk factors affect the life of the adolescent and should try to be sensitive with the adolescents when the stress is imminent.

Adolescent pregnancy is a complex problem that affects the complete family system and represents a time of stress (Loyd, 2004). Research has established that 25% of adolescents have a second child after their first childbirth (Jaskiewicz y Mc Anarney, 1994). Even when the incidence of adolescent pregnancy has lowered, the Center for Control of Infection and Disease, (2003) indicate that the rates are still high.

Upchurch and Mc Carthy (1990) indicate that adolescent pregnancy brings a variety of psychosocial problems as dropping out of school, poverty, divorce, single parenting and subsequent pregnancy in some cases from successive partners. All these situations are a source of stress during a period in life that stress is part of normal developmental processes and in the case of teen pregnancy with different roles, which will include now pregnancy and childrearing. Eister, Elizabeth and Lamb (1983) indicate that during adolescence the individual is developing their abstract thinking skills, which will provide them the capability to manage different complex situation one of them, the sensitivity to respond to their infant, they are developing their resources to cope with stress. Parenthood becomes another source of stress for the teenager.

Bowlby (1969) indicates the importance of the parent response to their infant. The style of attachment develops between the infant and the caregiver will determine if the child will be comfortable seeking comfort from others, secure to explore his surroundings and trust others. If the child develops an insecure attachment, he will be more detached and will not seek significant relationships with others. Spieker and Bensley (1994) establish that if the adolescent is unprepared to assume the parent role and has poor parenting practice their infant can develop an insecure attachment. Roberts, Gotlib and Kassel (1996) indicate that an insecure attachment is a risk factor for depression in adulthood.

Researchers found that adolescent approach their parenting role with additional problems including depression (Deal and Holt, 1998). Parents’ depression is associated with a negative impact on their children’s emotional, behavioral, cognitive and social well being (Billings & Moos, 1983). The interaction between a depress mother and her child is characterized as insensitivity, unresponsive and hostile (Teti, Gelfand, Messinger and Isabella, 1995). Depressed parents are in higher risk to relationship discord. Parental discord is associated with behavioral and emotional problems in children (Cummings & Davies, 1994). Feeling unprepared and depress for this new role is a source of stress for the young parents.

Research has established that the elements of communication, interpersonal process and relationship satisfaction between the couples are link to the quality of parenting (Cox & Paley, 1997). The family functioning depends on communication between its members and this element will determine the connectedness of the nuclear family (Kirby, 2001). In a research by Lloyd (2004) she identify that pregnant adolescent perceive poor communication between them and their parents prior and during their pregnancy.

As have been established by different researcher and my own experience working with pregnant adolescent there is an identifiable cycle that can be identified.

Stresses on family of origin (unsecured attachment)

Risk of depression in adulthood

Impact on children emotional well being

The challenge for the professional working with a pregnant adolescent is how to balance the maturational demands required to be a competent parent and the development stage do to normal human development where the adolescent can be identified. Is it possible for the professional to accelerate the normal developmental process so that the adolescent can effectively respond to the demands of being a parent? The professional has to evaluate the stress related to this demand by helping the adolescent do a smooth transition.

References


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