Family, Child, Adolescent Health (Includes Maternal & Child Health)
Exploring racial differences in the support provided by family to and social integration of teen mothers and fathers in their transition to adulthood
(School of Public Health (UMD) Behavioral and Community Health Doctoral Student)
Introduction: Given evidence that the negative consequences of adolescent parenthood persist throughout adulthood, it is critical to identify buffers of adverse effects. Supportive relationships and social integration are likely crucial in facilitating teenage parents' responses to the challenges of early parenthood, yet few studies have explored this topic or examined racial and gender differences in social support and integration. This study aims to identify differences in families' provision of emotional and financial support, as well as social integration, to Black and White teen mothers and fathers in their transition to adulthood. Methods: This study analyzes data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). This longitudinal study involves a nationally representative sample of teenagers in grades 7-12 (1994-1995) followed to ages 24-32 (2008-2009). The analytical sample consists of females (N=813, 36% Black) and males (N=263, 32% Black) who had a live birth before age 20 and focuses on emotional support, financial support, marriage and work participation. Results: In their transition to adulthood, Black teen mothers and fathers both reported significantly greater parental emotional and financial support compared to Whites. Compared to Whites, Black teenage mothers had greater work participation and were less likely to be married. Among males, Black teenage fathers were significantly less likely to be married than Whites. Conclusions: Results highlight the differences in social integration and in the amount and type of family support provided by race and gender, suggesting important implications for targeted programs in order to improve outcomes in adulthood.