Young people of minority ethnic origin in England and early parenthood: views from young parents and service providers

Soc Sci Med. 2006 Aug;63(4):858-70. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.03.011. Epub 2006 May 5.


The paper explores the phenomenon of early parenthood in minority ethnic communities in England. The data were collected using focus group interviews, in-depth semi-structured interviews and a telephone survey. The sample consisted of 139 participants (41 service providers, 10 grandmothers, 88 young parents). The findings map out the complexity and diversity of experience of early parenthood amongst young people of minority ethnic origin, not least the multiple attachments many experience in relation to their social groups, religious affiliations and the traditional patterns of parenting within their immediate and extended family. Both the young parents and professionals in this study constructed early parenthood in more positive terms than is currently portrayed in the contemporary policy. The findings are analysed and discussed in relation to ethnic identity, social inclusion and exclusion. We explore participants' attempts to counter negative 'deficit' models of early parenthood with reference to perspectives on youth, parenthood and contemporary strategic policy. In conclusion, we suggest an unambiguous focus on the reduction of pregnancy is not a credible message when teenage pregnancy is a social norm for a particular ethnic or cultural group. For young parents of Muslim faith in particular, teenage parenting within marriage is not necessarily considered a 'problem' or seen as a distinctive event. Most participants did not view early parenthood as a barrier to re-establishing career and educational aspirations. A wide diversity of experience amongst young parents is evidenced in the communities studied; this needs to be reflected more comprehensively both in UK policy and in support services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • England
  • Ethnic Groups / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Parenting / ethnology*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence
  • Prejudice
  • Social Isolation