When Boys Become Parents: Adolescent Fatherhood in America

When Boys Become Parents: Adolescent Fatherhood in America

When Boys Become Parents: Adolescent Fatherhood in America

When Boys Become Parents: Adolescent Fatherhood in America


After school specials about teenage pregnancy abound. Whether in television or in society, the focus tends toward young girls coping with all of the emotional and physical burdens of pregnancy but rarely is the perspective of the teenage fathers portrayed.

In this informative book, Mark S. Kiselica draws on his many years of counseling teenage fathers to offer a compassionate look at the difficult life circumstances and the complicated hardships these young men experience. He dispels many of the myths surrounding teenage fatherhood and shows that, contrary to popular belief, these young men are often emotionally and physically involved in relationships with their partner and their child. But without support and guidance from adults, these relationships often deteriorate in the first year of the child-'s life. Kiselica offers advice for how professionals and policy makers can assist these young men and improve services for them.

When Boys Become Parents provides a moving portrait of teenage fathers to any reader who wants to understand and help these young men to become more competent and loving parents during their journey to adulthood.


For the past twenty-eight years I have been on a quest to help, study, and understand boys who become fathers during their teenage years. The seeds of this venture were sown many years ago, back in 1980 when I was a twentytwo-year-old young man, fresh out of college. At the time, I was employed as a mental health worker in the inpatient adolescent unit of Fair Oaks Hospital, a private psychiatric facility located in Summit, New Jersey. I had taken a job at Fair Oaks to gain experience working with emotionally disturbed teenagers.

One summer night while I was assigned to the 3–11 shift at the hospital, I noticed that Steve, a fourteen-year-old boy on our unit, appeared quite agitated when we returned to the unit after having dinner in the hospital cafeteria. So I asked Steve if he’d like to go for a walk to blow off some steam and tell me what was on his mind. After he accepted this invitation, I took him to an outside recreational area where we played a few games of one-onone basketball.

Although Steve was only fourteen, he was a big, strong kid who stood about five feet, ten inches tall and weighed a muscular 175 pounds. Throughout our games, he pounded his body against mine and made many aggressive moves to the basket, seeming to discharge much of his pent-up anger in the process. After a while, we took a breather and sat side-by-side in the grass next to the basketball court, where we gradually cooled down and settled into a relaxed but serious conversation.

As we both looked out toward the sunset, Steve slowly told me why he had been on the verge of exploding earlier that evening. He stated that he . . .

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