National Network for Child Care's Connections

Sherry C. Betts, Ph.D.
Extension Specialist
Human Development and Family Studies
University of Arizona Cooperative Extension

Copyright/Access Information

“Is your mommy smoking again, Jennifer? Tell her it's not
good for you,” said the provider as she reached for seven-month-old

Marcy, her 16-year-old mother, stood there trying to juggle the
baby, diaper bag, cigarette, and school backpack. She snapped
back, “Don't talk to my baby about me! You can't tell me
not to smoke!!”

The provider meant to encourage Marcy to consider the effects
of smoking on herself and her baby. Instead, Marcy became angry
and ready to argue.

Child care providers face both opportunities and special challenges
when caring for the children of teen parents. Here are five tips
for success.

– Let teen parents know you are on their side. This means
working to build trust and avoiding power struggles. The goal
should be to treat all parents with respect and to be treated
the same way by them. When parents happen to be teenagers, they
sometimes see providers as authority figures. And some providers
may react or treat them as children. Resist this urge! Let teen
parents know you are on their side.

– Enjoy the energy of teen parents. Even though they may
be parents, 16- and 17-year-olds need to have the fun other teens
have. Teen parents can be responsible and still, at times, act
like teenagers. Don't fault them for acting their age when it
is appropriate.

– Support teen parents' attachments to their children.
Sometimes young parents are jealous of caregivers. The attention
and affection given to their children may make them fear loss
of love from their babies. Show that you recognize them as the
most important person in the baby's life.

– Use your knowledge and experience to gently teach and guide
teen parents.
Most teens are eager to learn. The key is to
watch for opportunities. Share your view with respect. You may
find the teachable moments occur more often. Also, you may learn
some things from the teen parents.

– Get to know each teen parent as a person. We all need
someone to talk to and share good news with, to encourage us,
and to just listen when we are feeling low. All teens need a good
relationship with at least one supportive adult. Teen parents
are real people, separate from their children. Be a friend. Make
a friend. Make a difference.

“Hi, Marcy! What a heavy load you have. Can I take something
for you? C'mon, Jennifer. Your mom needs another two hands.”

“What I really need is to stop smoking. How did you do it
last year?”

National Network for Child Care – NNCC. Part of CYFERNET, the
National Extension Service
Children Youth and Family Educational Research Network. Permission
is granted to reproduce
these materials in whole or in part for educational purposes only
(not for profit beyond the cost of
reproduction) provided that the author and Network receive acknowledgment
and this notice is

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child
Care – NNCC. Betts, S.C. (1993). Success with teen parents. In
Todd, C.M. (Ed.), *Day care center connections*, 2(5),
p. 4. Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Cooperative
Extension Service.

Level 3 – National Peer Review
DOCUMENT SIZE:: 19K or 3 pages
ENTRY DATE:: February 1996


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