A teenage pregnancy affect grandparents just as much as the teenager. Throughout this series, we have looked more specifically about how teenage pregnancy affects mother and father, effects on the baby, and even the effects on society. Another part that is often not considered is that teenage pregnancy often can drastically affect and impact grandparents and other immediate family.
How Does Teenage Pregnancy Affect Grandparents Statistically?
According to the United States Census Bureau in 1992, seven percent of grandparents lived with their grandchildren. That number has risen to ten percent in 2012 and accounts for roughly 4.2 million households across America. The statistics further show that 60 percent of these households were maintained by the grandparent, and a third of these 4.2 million households have no parent present in the household at all. The stats also revealed an overall trend that grandparents living with grandchildren tended to have lower levels of education and also had a higher rate of poverty than grandparents who did not live with their grandchildren.
Impacts of Teenage Pregnancy On Grandparents
While all of those households are not the product of teenage pregnancy, a large percentage of teens live with the grandparents especially during the first year after the baby is born. This means many of these households contain children, teenage parents and grandparents. Whether they live together or not, there are multiple effects teenage pregnancy can have on a family.
The mother and father are not the only ones who often end up changing their plans for the future. Teens are generally not financially independent which means grandparents are often filling the gap. This can mean grandparents may shift careers or change their own education goals to help care for the new baby. This can also mean money that grandparents had saved for things like retirement, emergency funds or to tackle their own debt may now be used instead to help support the new baby. In the short term, vacations, retirement and other goals may now take a backseat to help care for the new baby. Until the recent healthcare reforms in the US, many insurance plans did not extend maternity benefits and care to a dependent which was an unspoken surprise to families as they struggle to pay for all of the new expenses for a new baby.
Many grandparents often find they have a range of emotions when finding out the news about a teenage pregnancy including guilt, frustration, denial and anger. They may fear being rejected in their community, and blame themselves or their own parenting skills. Depression, anger and fear often come into play as new grandparents cope with the news. The relationship between the pregnant teenager and the grandparents is almost always strained as both figure out their new roles. Some teens see grandparents as unpaid babysitters which can also strain relationships.
Many times the grandparents will step in to help a young teen mother support and raise her child. If these grandparents also have additional children this can create a mirror effect. Since the energy is now focused on the new baby, additional children may have less attention. This can sometimes mean that additional siblings become pregnant teenagers as other siblings unintentionally copy their older siblings. A controversial study in the UK found that if one teenager became pregnant, the chance of siblings also becoming pregnant jumped from a one in five chance to a two in five chance.
Becoming a grandparent unexpectantly in your child’s teenage years can cause mixed feelings of joy and frustration. How does teenage pregnancy affect grandparents?
Image Credit: Patrick Slaven