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The primary aim of this chapter is to explore stigmatization, stress, and coping among adolescent mothers and to identify positive coping mechanisms that not only resist…
The primary aim of this chapter is to explore stigmatization, stress, and coping among adolescent mothers and to identify positive coping mechanisms that not only resist stigmatization but also generate positive affect.
Fifty-two pregnant and parenting adolescents in an urban county in the Midwestern United States were recruited to participate. A journaling tool was developed and used to allow participants to express their thoughts and concerns in a real-time, reflexive manner. Data were coded at different “nodes” or themes. Concepts, such as stigma, stress, strength, and empowerment were operationalized into key words and “themes” based on previous published literature. Key phrases were used to code the journaling data.
Adolescent mothers used positive reappraisal of life circumstances to create a positive self-image and resist the stress of stigma and parenting. Overcoming stereotypes and success in parenting were reappraised as “strength,” which allowed the young women to feel empowered in their caregiving role.
The chapter also contributes to the sociological literature on positive coping responses to stigma and stress. Indeed, very few studies have employed the sociological imagination of pregnant and parenting adolescents by describing not only their lives but also seeking their understanding and explaining their lives sociologically. This chapter also has direct implications for several health care providers, including nurses and social workers. For example, nurses and social workers are a vital part of the healthcare team for pregnant and parenting adolescents, and they often serve as the link between the adolescent, her family and significant others, and healthcare and social service agencies.
This chapter described the mechanisms that adolescent mothers use to cope with stress with a focus on how caregiving generates positive affect through the voices of these young mothers themselves. This chapter contributed to the sociological literature on stress and coping. In particular, our findings were also in line with the work of sociologist Antonovsky’s Sense of Coherence concept. SOC is a global measure that indicates the availability of, and willingness to use, adaptive coping resources as a key variable in maintaining health.