Sex Roles [sers] pp1195-sers-486373 May 3, 2004 23:52 Style ﬁle version June 3rd, 2002
Sex Roles, Vol. 50, Nos. 9/10, May 2004 (
Satisfaction With Parenting: A Comparison Between
Adolescent Mothers and Fathers
Stacy D. Thompson
and Andrea C. Walker
In this study we compared adolescent mothers and the fathers of their infants to examine
levels of and predictors of parenting satisfaction. Participants were 41 adolescent mothers
who were contacted through alternative school programs and the fathers of their infants. Not
all of the fathers were adolescents. The sample was racially diverse (White, Black, Native
American, and Hispanic). Correlation and t test analyses were conducted and those variables
that were signiﬁcantly correlated with parenting satisfaction were used in regression analyses.
Mothers’ parenting satisfaction and paternal control scores were higher than fathers’ scores.
Self-esteem, age at the baby’s birth, and social support satisfaction signiﬁcantly predicted
parenting satisfaction for fathers, whereas only self-esteem and social support satisfaction did
so for mothers.
KEY WORDS: adolescent parenting; fathers; parenting satisfaction; adolescent mothers.
Parenting satisfaction varies among contextual
situations that range from a ﬁnancially stable, two-
parent, one-child home to the household of a single
father who is raising two small children after his wife’s
death. Variables that contribute to parenting satisfac-
tion include educational attainment, parent gender,
family structure, and income (White & Rogers, 1998).
Among the most signiﬁcant contributors is age at on-
set; the older and more mature the parent, the greater
the parenting satisfaction (White & Rogers, 1998). In
this article we discuss variables related to adolescent
parents’ parenting satisfaction.
In general, researchers to date have not investi-
gated the fathers’ parenting satisfaction to the extent
they have the parenting satisfaction of mothers. We
have very little understanding of how these fathers
view their parenting role. Less than 50% of fathers
of children born to adolescent mothers are adoles-
Human Environmental Sciences, Department of Human De-
velopment and Family Science, Oklahoma State University,
To whom correspondence should be addressed at 338 Human En-
vironmental Sciences, Department of Human Development and
Family Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma
74078; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
cents themselves; the other half are older (Darroch,
Landry, & Oslak, 1999). Fathers of infants born to
adolescent mothers are notoriously underrepresented
in the literature because of sampling issues and lack
of involvement with social service agencies. There-
fore, this study focused on the differences in parenting
satisfaction and related variables between adolescent
mothers and the fathers of their infants.
Adolescent pregnancy is a pressing social con-
cern that has received a great deal of attention from
many sources. National birth rates for adolescent
girls have dropped for all age groups except for the
youngest (10- to 14-year-olds); however the United
States has one of the highest adolescent birth rates of
any industrialized nation (Martin, Hamilton, Ventura,
Menacker, & Park, 2002). Premature pregnancy trig-
gers an increased need for family support, particu-
larly as 78% of the adolescent mothers are unmarried
(Ventura, Mathews, & Curtin, 1999), and the major-
ity receive no support from their partners. Becoming
a parent during adolescence without family support
may lead to less satisfaction with the parenting role.
Adolescence is a distinct stage between child-
hood and adulthood deﬁned by both biological and
social factors. Through social exploration they begin
2004 Plenum Publishing Corporation