The Partners of Adolescent Mothers
For many years, the adolescent pregnancy literature focused exclusively on the female with little information on male partners. In fact, the partners of adolescent mothers were not even included in clinical investigations of teenage pregnancy until the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since the 1970s, there have been many reports on the fathers of babies born to teenage mothers, but some of this information must be interpreted cautiously. Some studies suffer from methodological deficiencies including retrospective data collection, data collection through the pregnant female and her family only, underrepresentative sampling procedures (e.g., using juvenile detention centers), lack of comparison groups, and information on teenaged fathers only ( Eas & Felice, 1994; Hardy et al., 1989; Robinson, 1988). Although there is much we still need to learn about the male partners of adolescent mothers, we now know enough to dispel many myths including the stereotypical image that young fathers are all uncaring teenagers from urban areas and minority backgrounds. Data from many sources indicate that these young men are a heterogeneous group and although some avoid the responsibilities of parenthood, others are eager to accept the father role ( Smollar & Ooms, 1987).
Information concerning fathers is not always completed on birth certificates of children born to mothers under the age of 19 ( Smollar & Ooms, 1987), including basic information such as age and race. This is particularly true for nonmarital births, where young women and their families may be reluctant to provide data concerning the father. According to one data set ( NCHS, 1994), information on