Patterico's Pontifications

9/21/2008

Colorado Helps Teenage Fathers

Filed under: General,Government — DRJ @ 7:55 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Friday’s Denver Post includes an article on federally-funded programs that help teenage fathers continue their education and take responsibility for their children. The article notes that there have been few efforts to help teen dads father their children, but studies show there are surprisingly few teen fathers and many want to take responsibility for their children — unlike their stereotypes as absent and irresponsible:

“Their numbers are relatively few: Among men ages 15 to 19, only 1.7 percent were unwed fathers, according to a 2002 study by the National Center for Health Statistics. Most teen mothers identify fathers who are beyond their teen years.

“Notions about the sexual behavior of late-adolescent guys and those in their early 20s set a stereotype that they’re some sort of sexual marauders,” said Freya Sonenstein, director of the Center for Adolescent Health at Johns Hopkins University. “When you actually collect data — and even if you’ve thought about your own experience and friends’ — you figure out that this is really not the case for the vast majority of young men.

One study through the Bank Street College of Education in New York City offered counseling and other services to about 400 teen fathers in eight cities. After two years, 82 percent said they had daily contact with their kids, nearly three-fourths contributed financial support and 90 percent still had a relationship with the mother.”

The biggest problem many teen fathers face is rejection by the mother’s family, who often force them out of the picture after learning of their daughter’s pregnancy:

“At the University of Colorado Denver, associate professor of sociology Candan Duran-Aydintug studied 16 teen fathers in the metro area over nearly four years to explore their understanding of fatherhood.

In 13 of the cases, the mother’s family shunned them, which proved the strongest deterrent to any kind of social support.

“It’s one thing to be pregnant as a girl, but we really don’t trust young boys,” Duran-Aydintug said. “Young men have a bad reputation to start with. I think it’s a reflection in the girl’s family that they want one less headache to deal with.

“But the more you dis them,” she added, “the more they act like they don’t care. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Colorado’s program to help teen fathers was started in 2006 as part of a 5-year, $10 million federal grant as part of a Responsible Fatherhood initiative. Colorado officials note that much is done for teen mothers but little for teen fathers, and these programs are an effort to remedy that disparity. Rich Batten, family and fatherhood specialist for Colorado’s Department of Human Services, described the mission this way: “Fatherhood changes men. We try to help them step up to the role that’s come upon them and be more engaged.”

There are several anecdotal reports at the linked article as well as specifics of the programs Colorado has in place. Their main concern seems to be that funding will stop at the end of the grants.

I hope not. This is a program that seems to be worth far more than its cost in dollars.

— DRJ

9 Responses to “Colorado Helps Teenage Fathers”

  1. DRJ, this relates to programs that the average conservative understands, and is willing to support….

    But, as I ask…how much longer can we afford to support this when nearly half our working population doesn’t pay taxes???

    reff (539a9d)

  2. DRJ

    Sounds like a great program. But it’s not the feds job. These need to be funded locally or have a lot of church and community involvement.

    Darleen (187edc)

  3. I agree, Darleen. My impression is that these grants were for pilot programs across the US, and I hope that local and state governments will fund follow-up programs.

    DRJ (0754ed)

  4. This is another chapter in the war on men. Patriarchy is another target of the old feminists. Note the disdain shown to the Palin family’s willingness to acknowledge the father of Bristol Palin’s baby.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  5. Mike K

    I don’t believe in the individual situation, ie the girl’s family rejecting the boy, is part of some “war on men”. It is a natural reaction to see the boy as being exploitive of their daughter.

    And many times, the boy’s family will feel the same way about the girl.

    Emotions run high. There needs to be involved third parties – a pastor, a teacher, – someone that can mediate some sort of detente between the families and also find out from the expecting parents what THEY want.

    Darleen (187edc)

  6. “Fatherhood changes men. We try to help them step up to the role that’s come upon them and be more engaged.”

    The phrasing of this is troubling. Yes, fatherhood changes men – its supposed to but its not a role that’s come upon them. Its not like it was due to bad luck or because of something they never had control over. Its a role that they willfully, with full knowledge chose for themselves by virtue of what they participated in in the first place. It troubles me to see the possibility of self-responsibility being relieved in any way. Fatherhood not only changes men but it is also a very hard and difficult role to successfully fill.

    Dana (4d3ea0)

  7. I doubt every family with a pregnant teen views the father as a villain but I think society does view him as expendable. In this context, there isn’t much functional difference between evil and expendable.

    DRJ (0754ed)

  8. doubt every family with a pregnant teen views the father as a villain

    DRJ, I didn’t say every family, nor that such a reaction would last. I just said it is natural as a first reaction to see their daughter as having been “used” by the boy.

    If society sees him as expendable it is because they see the baby as expendable, as a “punishment.”

    Darleen (187edc)

  9. When I was a child support enforcement worker, I found things like the fatherhood initiative and “outreach” to teen dads a little ironic. A judge may cut a teen father some slack while he attends college – a good thing, usually – however if teen mom is on cash assistance, she’s likely to not get the same indulgence for education.

    darkpixel (af11f1)


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