The experience of adolescent motherhood: An exploratory mixed methods study

Rose M.C. Kagawa, Julianna Deardorff, Rosalinda Domínguez Esponda, Darcy Craig, Lia C.H. Fernald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Aim: To identify and better understand opportunities for and challenges in attaining the maternal role among women who began childbearing in adolescence in rural Mexico. Background: Adolescent mothers often face challenges rising from their socioeconomic status and developmental stage that can strain the process of developing confidence and competence in the maternal role. In Mexico, 19% of births are to women under age 20. Little is known about these mothers’ experiences with parenting. Design: Mixed methods. Methods: Quantitative data collected in 2008 from a cluster-random sample of mothers (n = 1,381) in rural, impoverished areas of three southern states provided objective measures of mothers’ socioeconomic position, well-being, and parenting practices. Semi-structured interviews conducted in 2013 with mothers (n = 30) provided insight into perceptions of motherhood and opportunities for and challenges in attaining the maternal role. Findings: Ever-adolescent mothers scored lower than never-adolescent mothers on the total HOME and the parental responsivity and learning materials subscales. They also occupied the most economically disadvantaged positions, showing the lowest levels of education and wealth and the most depressive symptoms compared with never-adolescent mothers. The qualitative analysis supported these challenges and highlighted areas of opportunity: (1) early-adolescent parents faced economic challenges; (2) adolescent childbearing was normative with some exceptions; (3) participants’ mothers and mothers-in-law provided social support; and (4) mothers focused on learning to parent and helping their children “get ahead” in life. Conclusion: Findings have important implications for identifying how to support young women as they become mothers and continue in this role.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2566-2576
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • adolescent motherhood
  • maternal role attainment
  • nursing
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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