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Adolescence. 1986 Winter;21(84):901-11.

Adolescent unwed prospective fathers: readiness for fatherhood and behaviors toward the mother and the expected infant.


Despite the increased emphasis on assessing and meeting the needs of unmarried pregnant adolescents, less than adequate attention has been directed toward understanding unwed adolescent prospective fathers who frequently are the mates of pregnant teenagers. As part of a prenatal education intervention study, 28 unmarried adolescent fathers responded to a questionnaire containing items about their readiness for fatherhood, antepartal behavioral interactions, and projected postpartal behaviors with their pregnant adolescent partners, as well as their projected behaviors with their infants. The adolescent males reported that initially they either were definitely unready for paternity (75%) or were undecided about readiness for fatherhood (21%). However, as pregnancy advanced beyond the second trimester, only 57% of the respondents did not want to become fathers. To a significant extent, those who did not were least likely to engage in behaviors supportive of their mate's health antepartally, or to indicate a desire to care for and interact with their expected infant. In addition, they tended to project lower levels of postnatal involvement with the adolescent mothers of their children as compared to those males who were more accepting of their pending fatherhood. Moreover, males who had maintained long prepregnancy relationships with their mates tended to be more supportive of them prenatally, and to perceive themselves as maintaining close relationships with both the mothers and infants after delivery. Finally, 86% of the adolescent fathers planned to work to contribute to the support of their infants. The data demonstrate that unreadiness for fatherhood may be associated with responsible as well as irresponsible behaviors. Accordingly, these data are interpreted as having implications for the establishment of programs and policies which focus on the adolescent male population in order to interdict the high rate of unwed adolescent pregnancy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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