Adolescent mothers' experiences over time

Nicola Sheeran, Liz Jones, Jen Rowe, Hana McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To examine patterns and trajectories for Australian adolescent mothers as they transition into adulthood. Background: Adolescent mothers have diverse outcomes; some experience multiple negative outcomes for themselves and their children, and others prosper. Little is known about the experience over time for adolescent mothers and what factors affect their trajectories. Method: Three exemplar women's stories are presented as case studies, showcasing themes identified from in-depth interviews conducted with 10 women who gave birth as adolescents. Interviews were conducted at the time of infant birth, as well as 3 months, 12 months, and 5 years later. Results: Two themes emerged that captured the nuanced experiences of these adolescent mothers: stability to chaos and I've grown, but I can't reach the stars. Stability in the areas of family, relationships, geography, and planning/routine were related to whether young women had sufficient resources to focus on their own growth. Conclusion: An adolescent mother's functioning is related to the extent to which she experiences stability across a number of key domains, which in turn act to limit or enable growth and development. Implications: Adolescent mothers are a heterogeneous group. Targeted assessments and interventions are needed that address disadvantage and promote stability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-443
Number of pages16
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescent mothers
  • longitudinal
  • protective factors
  • risk factors

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