Parenting at any age can be a huge challenge and financial drain. When you’re 16 and pregnant (or close to that age), you need to understand that parenting is a life-changing responsibility. Above all, it’s expensive and it’s a lot of work. As you consider your options (abortion, adoption, parenting), here’s what you need to know about teen pregnancy and raising a baby.
If you’re 16 and pregnant, consider your future
According to national studies, here are the four most significant consequences of teen pregnancy:
- 80% of teen mothers end up on welfare at some point.
- Only about 1/3 of teen mothers finish high school.
- Teen parents have increased rates of alcohol and substance abuse.
- Children born to teen mothers are more likely to suffer health, social and emotional problems than children born to older mothers.
Teenagers who have a lot of family support are less likely to fall into one of the categories above. In addition to considering your future, there are practical considerations as well. When you’re 16 and pregnant, here’s what you should be thinking about:
How much does it cost to raise a baby?
Raising a baby is expensive. As a result, you need to consider who will pay for clothes, car seat, stroller, crib, diapers, formula, medical expenses, daycare, evening or weekend babysitting, etc. According to Parenting Magazine, baby will cost about $12,000 in its first year. You would have to work 40 hours per week making $10 per hour just to cover that cost (40 hours x $10 = $400 per week. This times 4 weeks per month = $1600. Minus 30% taxes= $1,120 net income per month).
Costs go up as children get older. For instance, activities, education, additional food costs and expenses increase over time. But costs aren’t the only consideration. Think about who will raise and care for the baby.
Who will take care of the teenager’s baby?
Babies need round the clock care. This includes night feedings, changing diapers, washing clothes, soothing a crying baby, etc. Getting the baby to and from day care. If baby is sick, you will likely have to stay home from school or work to care for him because most won’t take a sick baby.
Caring for a baby and teaching discipline, social skills, and routines can also be very challenging. This requires patience and know-how. Therefore, consider buying parenting books or taking parenting classes to get a really good idea of what to expect and how to handle it.
Will baby’s father be involved?
If you choose to parent, you should discuss with a family law attorney in your state what the baby’s father’s rights are. You should also understand your rights with respect to suing him for child support. Birth fathers in these situations are really easy to deal with in an adoption scenario. Most don’t want to parent and will agree to an adoption or at least won’t fight it while their rights are terminated. This can be very different if a woman chooses to parent. For instance, baby’s father may want to see the baby, his family might want to be in the baby’s life, etc.
One point about adoption and teenage pregnancy
Don’t choose adoption because your family or the baby’s father is pressuring you. It’s an adult decision, and it’s unfortunate when a teenager has to make this choice. Get as much information as you can on the reality of parenting so you can make an educated decision, the best decision for yourself.
Finally, teen pregnancy can look really fun and easy on TV, but in real life, it takes a lot of time and hard work, and it’s expensive. Carefully consider your options before making the decision that is best for you and your baby.