Three generations of a family, daughter, granddaughter and grandmother

Presenter: Dr Sally Brown, School of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University

Chair: Professor Paul Chaney

This seminar is part of the WISERD Civil Society Seminar Series and shares the findings from a new study of multi generational experiences of teenage pregnancy and parenting. It will question the idea that teenage pregnancy and parenting is problematic and explore contrasting approaches to family values.

In this seminar, I will discuss findings from a study of multi generational experiences of teenage pregnancy and parenting. I interviewed teenage parents and parents-to-be, and members of their families who also had experience of teenage parenting.

In contrast to a policy approach which regards teenage pregnancy and parenting as problematic and leading to social exclusion, in many cases the families I spoke to welcomed a new baby into the family, although they may not have welcomed the pregnancy. From the point of view of the older generation, grand-parenthood was regarded as a natural and desirable stage in the life course, and was anticipated with pleasure. Teenage parenthood was acknowledged to be challenging, but family experience was called on to demonstrate that it was not a disaster. The teenagers themselves took heart from this, as they had evidence that it was possible to navigate a life as a young parent. In addition, for many of the young people it proved to be a turning point which encouraged their greater participation in education and employment. Rather than being a route to social exclusion, teenage parenting often resulted in a greater desire to participate in civil society, as the young people saw themselves as having responsibilities to their children which meant that they wanted to complete their education and find a good job.

I will discuss contrasting approaches to family values in terms of the social and cultural capital to be gained by providing the next generation, ensuring the continuation of the family, and also ensuring that the older generation can take up their position as grandparents.


Image credit: 1001nights from iStock