Date of Award

Spring 1987

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Fox, Robert

Second Advisor

Lueger, Robert

Third Advisor

Shiel, Eileen


Adolescent parenting has not received adequate research attention compared to concern generated about the adolescent pregnancy rate. Yearly in the United States about 1.2 million teenagers get pregnant; 600,000 deliver babies, of whom 96% percent keep the baby This study examined parenting stress and knowledge of child development for 65 randomly selected adolescent mothers. Each mother had only one child living at home. Average age at delivery was 17.1 years; average age at data collection was 18.5 years, and the average toddler age was 16 months. All mothers received pregnancy care from an urban adolescent pregnancy service in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Using personal interviews, data were collected from a demographic profile, and Abidin Parenting Stress Index, the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, and a Knowledge of Child Development Scale. It was hypothesized that younger subjects would experience a greater degree of parenting stress. All subjects had taken prenatal parenting classes, so it was hypothesized maternal age would be insignificantly related to knowledge of child development. Findings did not demonstrate a relationship between maternal age and parenting stress, but did show a moderate correlation between age and knowledge of child development. In analyzing the relationship between maternal age and parenting stress, age did not appear to have any direct effect on stress. In fact, an elevated level of stress, as measured by the Parenting Stress Index, was diffusely represented across the whole of the sample. Regarding knowledge of child development, older mothers appeared to have a better grasp of information about normal growth and development than younger mothers in the sample. Despite that, the overall scores on the Knowledge of Child Development Scale were disappointing, since the average score of 19.8 represented only a 66% grasp of the content. Controlling for maternal academic achievement level, the mean scores for age and grade equivalents and for standard score battery composite on the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, were low. Respective means for age and grade equivalents were 14.5 years and 9th grade. The test's normed mean for the battery score is 100. At 86, the sample mean battery score is close to 85, the cut-off for scores 1 S.D. below the mean. Analysis of research and post-hoc questions indicate a need to dedicate more resources to study teenage parenting. A teen parent is not only engaged in an on-going struggle to achieve appropriate adolescent and adult developmental milestones, but must also provide for their child's emotional, physical, and cognitive development.



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