How to be a happy young parent
As teenagers, we are still figuring out who we are, and what we want from life. We are forging our adult identities, and our romantic relationships set the tone for the future.
Finding out you’re going to become a young parent plunges you into another major life transition just as you’re figuring out how to deal with the rest of life’s struggles . Ensuring you have the right support in place can make all the difference.
If you’re in a relationship, the increased stress of pregnancy and raising a child can lead to putting extra strain on the relationship. One study found nearly half of young parents’ relationships had broken up by the time the child was a year old . You can protect against this by knowing about the factors that keep relationships strong, and where to get extra support.
Just having a partner can be beneficial to you as a parent. Studies have shown that young mums supported by their partners feel more satisfied with their lives, have higher self-esteem, and are less likely to be stressed [3, 4, 5]. They are also likely to feel more ready for parenthood.
However, if you don’t have a partner, you needn’t despair. Research shows that single young parents who have good support from their parents and other family members can also report feeling more satisfied with their lives, and are less likely to be depressed or anxious .
Even if you don’t have support from your family, you can still feel the benefits of external support by connecting with other young parents or expectant parents through online forums. This kind of social support and parenting advice is also linked to stronger wellbeing , so it’s worth seeking support wherever you can get it.
To protect against the breakdown of a relationship, it’s important to think about relationship quality. Evidence shows that the good bits of your relationship not only protect against breakup, but also help you feel more confident as a parent . This is true even if your partner isn’t the child’s biological parent .
A positive relationship between you and your partner is also good for your child, as they are less likely to be exposed to conflict and stress [7, 8].
A strong sense of mutual love and attraction can often be enough to protect your relationship, but if you want to do something to make things stronger, consider upping your relationship equity. This means that you both make an equal contribution to the relationship. You can do this by sharing chores and childcare, but also by showing equal affection and support .
If your relationship breaks down, and you’re not getting the support you need from family and friends, you can try visiting the young parents section of the Family Lives website or using our forums to ask for tips and social support from other young parents.
 Gee, C. B., McNerney, C. M., Reiter, M. J., & Leaman, S. C. (2007). Adolescent and young adult mothers’ relationship quality during the transition to parenthood: Associations with father involvement in fragile families. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36(2), 213-224.
 Sipsma, H., Biello, K. B., Cole-Lewis, H., & Kershaw, T. (2010). Like father, like son: the intergenerational cycle of adolescent fatherhood. American Journal of Public Health, 100(3), 517-524.
 Dhayanandhan, B., Bohr, Y., & Connolly, J. A. (2010). Understanding the link between developmental tasks and child abuse potential among adolescent mothers living below the poverty line. In Poster presented at the Annual Meeting for the Society for Research on Adolescence, Philadelphia PA.
 Gee, C. B., & Rhodes, J. E. (1999). Postpartum transitions in adolescent mothers' romantic and maternal relationships. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly (1982-), 512-532.
 Stevenson, W., Maton, K. I., & Teti, D. M. (1999). Social support, relationship quality, and well-being among pregnant adolescents. Journal of adolescence, 22(1), 109-121.
 Sherman, L. E., & Greenfield, P. M. (2013). Forging friendship, soliciting support: A mixed-method examination of message boards for pregnant teens and teen mothers. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(1), 75-85.
 Cutrona, C. E., Hessling, R. M., Bacon, P. L., & Russell, D. W. (1998). Predictors and correlates of continuing involvement with the baby's father among adolescent mothers. Journal of Family Psychology, 12(3), 369.
 Hetherington, E. M., & Stanley-Hagan, M. M. (1997). The effects of divorce on fathers and their children. The role of the father in child development, 3, 191-211.
 Kershaw, T., Murphy, A., Divney, A., Magriples, U., Niccolai, L., & Gordon, D. (2013). What's love got to do with it: Relationship functioning and mental and physical quality of life among pregnant adolescent couples. American journal of community psychology, 52(3-4), 288-301.