Parenting Stress, Social Support, and Depression for Ethnic Minority Adolescent Mothers: Impact on Child Development

J Child Fam Stud. 2014 Feb;23(2):255-262. doi: 10.1007/s10826-013-9807-1.


Rates of teenage pregnancies are higher for African American and Latina adolescents compared to their White peers. African American and Latina adolescent mothers also experience more adversities than their White peers, such as higher rates of depression, school dropout, and economic disadvantage. Furthermore, children of adolescent mothers are at higher risk for adverse development. Parenting stress and social support can impact outcomes experienced by adolescent parents and their children. The present study examined the influence of adolescent mothers' parenting stress and perceived social support on maternal depression at baseline (six months after birth), and its impact on infant development one year later (18 months after birth). Participants were 180 adolescent mothers of African American or Latino/Hispanic descent. Results suggest that higher levels of parenting stress and less perceived social support were associated with higher levels of depression in the adolescent mothers at baseline. Higher levels of maternal depression were also associated with more developmental delays in infants one year post-baseline. Additionally, depression mediated the relationship between parenting stress and later child outcomes. These findings highlight the importance of examining parenting factors such as parenting stress, social support, and maternal depression in ethnic minority adolescent parents, and provide valuable information regarding unique risk and protective factors associated with positive maternal outcomes for ethnic minority adolescent parents and healthy development for their children.

Keywords: ethnic minority adolescents; maternal depression; parenting stress; social support; teen pregnancy.