Stereotypes of Teen Moms

There are many stereotypes of teen moms, most of them negative. This article discusses some of the stereotypes teen mothers must overcome such as being a high school dropout, poverty stricken, drug users, and more...Though more difficult, teen moms can succeed.

Understanding some of the stereotypes of teen moms can help teens and their parents learn about some of the stigmas and realities teen moms face. It can also help them to know that stereotypes are often false or exaggerated, and that many teen moms don't fit these stereotypes. 

Many people have negative stereotypes of teen moms. Though statistics show that teen moms have a definite disadvantage in life, few of them fit all the stereotypes that many people have of them. In fact, teen moms come from all demographics and backgrounds, and make many different choices with their lives, resulting in different outcomes. 

Here are some of the stereotypes that teen moms face

  •      Teen moms are high school dropouts. This stereotype may stem from the statistics that show that teen moms are less likely to finish high school than other teens. While it is certainly true that it's hard to finish school when a teen is pregnant or a parent, with a good support system in the form of family and/or school staff, and with motivation to make their lives and the lives of their children better, many teen moms do finish high school, and some even go on to college or vocational training. In fact, according to the March of Dimes, most teens who get pregnant are 18 or 19 - already past high school age.
  •      Teen moms live in poverty. Again, this stereotype is based on statistics about teen moms, education, and welfare. Without an education it is difficult to succeed in life, and many teen moms do need some form of government assistance at one point in their lives. While teen moms are at greater risk for living in poverty, by getting an education and working hard they can be successful, just like any other teen. Government assistance can be a temporary help for a teen mom as she gets on her feet.
  •      Teen moms are single moms. This stereotype extends to teen dads as well, since it portrays teen parents as sexually or morally irresponsible, with the father abandoning the mother, or the mother not even knowing who the father is. Though this situation happens sometimes, it is not the case for all teen moms. In fact, older teen moms may marry or already be married to the baby's father, and others are in a serious relationship with the father. Those who are single sometimes choose to give the baby up for adoption so they are not raising their baby as a single mom.
  •      Teen moms are bad moms. The babies of teen mothers are often considered to be at higher risk of neglect. This is because young teen mothers may not know how to care for their children. Of course, many new mothers learn as they go no matter what their age. Teen mothers can overcome their lack of knowledge in the same way that other new moms do, by taking classes or educating themselves about good parenting skills. The grandparents of the teen's baby may be tempted to step in and take over parenting, but this lowers the teen mom's self-confidence and does not help her become a better mother. Instead, the teen's parents can offer guidance and be good role models, without taking away the teen's role as mother.
  •      Teen moms are druggies. This stereotype seems to combine all the others. While some teen moms have substance abuse problems, this is no different from other teens and other moms. Many teen moms do not use drugs. Teen moms are, however, at greater risk for stress and depression, which can lead to substance abuse in those already prone to the problem. Teen moms may need counseling to help them deal with stress and depression, especially if they are struggling with lack of support.

Teens moms face many stereotypes. These stereotypes may be based on the situation of some teen moms, but they do not reflect all pregnant and parenting teens. Stereotypes can do a lot of harm to people who are already struggling and do not help anyone. If you are a teen mom, don't get bogged down in the stereotypes, but do look for help to overcome your individual challenges. If you know a teen mom, offer them caring and support, and don’t rely on stereotypes to determine what kind of person or mother they are.


N.C. Division of Social Servies and the Family and Children's Resource Program, Practice Notes, "Teen Pregnancy and Parenting: Myths and Realities" [online]

March of Dimes, "Teenage Pregnancy" [online]

Related Article: Teen Mom Preparations >>