Becoming a Thai teenage parent

University dissertation from Västerås : Mälardalen University

Abstract: The aim of this dissertation is to contribute to the understanding of Thai teenage parents’ experiences of becoming a parent as well as to examine healthcare providers’ reflections on their experiences of caring for teenage parents.The findings are based on three studies using mixed methods and resulting in four papers. The empirical data were collected in western Thailand between 2013 and 2015, in a province with a high incidence of teenage pregnancy. Paper I: Empirical data were based on three self-reported validated questionnaires. The sample consisted of 70 teenage and 70 adult fathers. Descriptive statistics, Mann-Whitney U-test, and Chi-square test were used for the analysis. Papers II and III: A heterogeneous group of 25 teenage couples (n=50) were interviewed before and after the birth of their first child, using grounded theory methodology. Paper IV: Four focus-group discussions were conducted with 21 healthcare providers; latent content analysis was used for analysis.Teenage fathers scored lower than adult fathers on scales measuring the father’s sense of competence, the father’s childrearing behavior, and the father-child relationship (paper I). The teenage mothers reported how they struggled with physical and social changes, for example bodily changes, breastfeeding and having to leave school, while the teenage fathers gave examples of coping with their future responsibility by working hard to save money for future family needs (paper III). The teenagers’ own parents were an important source of support all the way from pregnancy to childrearing, and their provision of childcare, advice, and instructions helped the teenage parents to cope with their duties. Most of the teenage parents reproduced traditional gender roles by being a caring mother or a breadwinning father (papers II–III). The healthcare providers were concerned about the young parents, viewed themselves as providing comprehensive care, and suggested access to reproductive health care and improved sex education as ways to improve quality (paper IV).The young couples’ stories describe how they struggled and coped with life changes when becoming unintentionally pregnant, accepting their parenthood, and finally becoming parents. A supportive family played a vital role in the transition to parenthood.Health promotion efforts for this particular group should be undertaken continuously to improve the quality of care for teenage parents and to promote the infants’ well-being and future development.Keywords: childrearing, fatherhood, focus-group discussions, grounded theory, healthcare providers, teenage fathers, teenage parents, Thai teenagers

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