A Developmental Perspective on School-Age Parenthood*
School-age pregnancy is ordinarily encountered through individuals and groups of individuals. The clinician sees a 15-year-old adolescent going into labor dangerously early; a toddler injured in a fit of anger by his 17-year-old mother; an 18-year-old mother uncooperative in the psychological evaluation of her 3-year-old child, referred by a preschool program for emotional disturbance. The association of school-age pregnancy with a variety of poor outcomes is strong and compelling, and the clinical goal of elaborating the phenomenon as it is presented follows naturally. In order to understand why school-age pregnancy is associated with the pattern of outcomes that have been found need to examine the developmentally relevant characteristics of the environment that is created for and by the young mother and child. The category of “school-age mother” is a social construct and the suggestion is that to move further in understanding of that phenomenon requires something beyond collecting more information about who falls into that category and the associated outcomes.