'I've had a wake-up call and his name is my son': Developing aspiration and making positive choices - Does government policy acknowledge young parents' perspectives?

Sandra F. Dowling, Nadia Mantovani, Sheila Hollins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)

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While the numbers of young people who become parents in their teenage years is declining, there remains a stigma associated with young parenthood. Young parents disrupt socially constructed ideas of the family and challenge ideals of childhood. It is common for young parents to have experienced social exclusion and poverty as well as to have relatively low educational achievement prior to parenthood. Less common, though, is the idea that becoming a parent in late teenage years may enable the development of aspiration, promote maturity and responsibility, and potentially lead to enhanced life chances for these young people. This article draws on interview data with 10 young women and 5 young men who were parents and aged between 16 and 19, along with findings from interviews carried out with a range of professionals working in the field of teenage pregnancy. Young people describe the transformative effect of parenthood on their young lives, and challenge accepted views of the negative impact of becoming a young parent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-206
Number of pages20
JournalFamilies, Relationships and Societies
Issue number2
Early online date4 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018



  • Aspiration and choice
  • Qualitative
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • UK policy

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