Like all parents, teenage mothers and young fathers want to do the best for their children and some manage very well; but for many their health, education and economic outcomes remain disproportionately poor which affects the life chances for them and the next generation of children. Parenthood is challenging at any age, but for young parents this can be more acute as they are themselves transitioning through adolescence into adulthood.
Every young parent has their own individual story, but the area and individual risk factors for early pregnancy highlight the vulnerabilities with which some young people enter parenthood: family poverty, persistent school absence by age 14, slower than expected attainment between ages 11 and14; and being looked after or a care leaver. As a result some young parents will have missed out on the protective factors of high quality sex and relationships education, emotional wellbeing and resilience, positive parenting role models and having a trusted adult in their life. For a minority, these vulnerabilities may make parenting very challenging. Almost 60% of children involved in serious case reviews were born to mothers under 21.
Feeling they are somehow being judged is a particular issue faced by young parents and therefore support offered should be respectful and non-stigmatised. It is important to remember that young parents include young fathers, regardless of whether the parents are together or not. Getting support right for teenage mothers and young fathers can transform the lives of individual young parents and their children, enabling them to fulfil their aspirations and potential. Often parenthood can be a positive and welcome catalyst for change in a young person’s life. By removing the assumption that parenthood is a negative event for a young person, practitioners can approach young parents with a different attitude’. Using the ‘strength-based approach’ can also be highly beneficial, focussing on positives before negatives.
Young people are often very worried about confidentiality. They are especially concerned that what they have said in private will be shared with their families, friends or partner. It is very important to respect a young parent’s rights to privacy in their discussions with you or other professionals. You can always remind them that their confidentiality will be upheld unless they or their child is at risk. It is important to ensure that young people feel listened to and heard.
Further resources and information
Unity Sexual Health
Information and free and confidential sexual health service for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. Offer a free NHS service providing testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, contraception and pregnancy advice for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The services are confidential, non-judgmental and for people of all ages, genders and orientations. They have specific service for under 20’s https://www.unitysexualhealth.co.uk/
Family Nurse Partnership
The Family Nurse Partnership work with first time teenage parents from early in pregnancy until their child is 2 years old. They offer an intensive home visiting programme and replace the Health Visiting service for this period. www.fnp.nhs.uk or 0117 3015498
If working with parents who are under 25, you can direct them to Brook www.brook.org.uk/find-a-service/regions/bristol service for free confidential advice, or use the Ask Brook text and web chat service www.brook.org.uk/our-services/ask-brook-a-question-24-7 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm.
National Sexual Health Helpline provided by Public Health England offers free confidential information and advice on sexual health, relationships and contraception on 0300 123 7123 (Monday–Friday, 9am to 8pm; Weekends, 11am to 4pm)
The Meriton provides outreach support to young parents up to the end of key stage 5 so that they can attend schools and post 16 education providers. Meriton staff provide direct support to young parents helping them to overcome barriers to accessing education. Staff can also provide advice and support to education providers on how to ensure they are meeting the needs of young parents. If you have any queries please contact:
- Bristol Hospital Education Service, Falkland Road Bristol BS6 5JT
- Telephone: 0117 3772377
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bluebell Mums Comfort Zone
free mums groups with creche and support network for mums across Bristol
Care to Learn
For parents aged between 16 and 20 and studying at a further education college, Care to Learn Scheme could help towards childcare costs.
Best Beginnings works to improve outcomes for young parents and their children by supporting midwives to develop and deliver maternity services to meet their needs www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/national-teenage-pregnancy-midwifery-network
Baby Buddy free phone app for parents-to-be and new parents www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/baby-buddy
Little Lullaby – ‘The place for young parents’. Information, chatrooms for young parents, buddying scheme www.littlelullaby.org.uk
Be a Star is a campaign is dedicated to increasing the number of young mums who choose to breastfeed www.beastar.org.uk
Young Dads TV Youtube Channel has dedicated videos for young dads www.youtube.com/user/youngdadstv
Start for Life provides information to parents and practitioners about covering all key pregnancy and baby topics www.nhs.uk/start4life
Young People Friendly programme early years settings and services might wish to take part in the Young People Friendly programme, it accredits services who have proven they are in tune with young people aged 11 to 18 years through achieving certain standards to meet young people’s needs. There are up to 7 themes in the young people friendly tool kit that services have to evidence they meet http://cchp.nhs.uk/cchp/what-cchp/young-people-friendly