The Philippines teenage pregnancy rate has increased by 60% in the year 2000- 2010, according to the Philippine National Statistics Office. This is very alarming. Teenage pregnancy often occurs between the ages of 15-19 years old, often in this age the girls are still studying.
With early pregnancy the girls usually have to abandon their education to give birth or raise their child. Girls who become pregnant are expelled from school especially in a Catholic School like Lourdes College because it goes against the moral teachings of the school thus delaying the chance of earning a degree that will help them in providing for their child. Education becomes a lesser priority and is often delayed until they are able to leave the children at home are financially stable. But there are girls who are studying as well as taking care of their child and they are who we call Student Mothers. The burdens for these girls have double as to they have to take care of school as well as their child at home.
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The life of a Student Mother is no easy feat they have to juggle their time between attending their classes, making their requirements, taking care of their child and taking care of the house. They become the primary caregiver of their child and are expected to rear their child well. Many of these student mothers also engage in working part-time to help in the financial burdens of both studying and caring for the child. But, this becomes another disadvantage as it takes up time and effort on the part of the Student Mother.
Statement of the Problem
This study aims to understand how student mothers cope with their situation towards their studies and as well as child rearing. More specifically, what are the problems they have encountered in studying while nurturing their child at home.The study also seeks to find the coping strategy used by Student Mothers in their circumstances.
With these in mind the purpose of the study is to help the readers understand the endeavors experienced by student mothers.
The research will ask the following questions:
- What are the experiences student mothers?
- What are the coping strategies used by student mothers?
- What are the learnings of student mothers from their situation?
- What has helped them most in their situation?
Scope and Limitation
The study covered three (3) student mothers of Lourdes College Higher Education Department, enrolled in the second semester of S.Y. 2014-2015. The study was mainly focused on the student mother challenges, coping strategies and realizations. These student mothers were classified as students of Lourdes College that have a child under seven (7) years of age.
Significance of the Study
The results of the study will then be beneficial to the following persons and institutions:
Student Mothers. They could gain insight about their situation and be aware of their responsibilities as both parent and student.
Students. They will gain deeper understanding about the reality of student mothers and most importantly for them to learn about the experiences of student mothers.
Researchers. They will broaden their knowledge about the experiences of student mothers in a college.
Guidance Counselors. The findings and observations would provide them relevant data that can be utilized in their counseling interventions.
Administration and Faculty. This will provide them information to promote, enhance understanding and support to programs concerning student mothers to help them cope in their situation.
From 2000 to 2010, the number of live births by teenage mothers in the Philippines rose by more than 60 percent, latest data from the National Statistics Office showed.
Another alarming fact is that the number of teenage mothers who gave birth to their second or third child during their teenage year has increased in the last 10 years. This is according to the data shown in the press conference in Quezon City by Carmelita Ericta, administrator and civil registrar general of the National Statistics Office. ( Ime Morales, July 9, 2013) Teenage preganancy is a global issue and a major contributor to school drop-out among girls. Permanent expulsion was one of the solutions made for teenage pregnancy but this has been proven ineffective and unfair to the girls. Now there is a return to school policy where a student is temporarily dismissed from school due to teenage pregnancy to further pursue their education.(Okeyo, 2012)
As stated by Brown and Amankwaa (2007) “As more female college students are involved in sexual relationships their risk of conception increases. However, when pregnancy occurs it is only the woman who bears the burden and risk of the pregnancy and in most cases child care.“ often these types of pregnancy are unplanned or planned caring for a child becomes a full time job. Having a child while being a student becomes stressful because child rearing consumes time and energy, with a few exeptions the women are the primary care giver of the child. ( Hofferth, Reid, & Mott, 2001 as cited by Brown &Amankwaa, 2007). According to Kidwell (2004), rearing a child while being s full-time student may be daunting and difficult however, it will be easier if she has a partner or a family member who can help her in taking care of the child.
With the increase of higher education students, 10% of this population areparents or mothers who are hoping to give their children a better future and attending to their needs through receiving a degree. These nontraditional students are often Student Mothers and should be given special attention because aside from their role as student they are also mothers and care givers at home. Many see or consider their families a hindrance to their education which is wrong they should see it as a motivator because primarily, Student mother go back to studying because they want to provide for their child. (Wilsey, 2013)
When pregnant students and student mothers are expected to subordinate their needs and desires to those of their children and families, they are forced to grapple with the conflicting roles of motherhood and studentship (Berg &Mamhute, 2013). Brown &Amankwaa, (2007) stated that parenting is a very stressful and some women cannot handle all the tasks involved especially the first time mothers and need help or assistance from the people around them. Although having someone help the mother is good but the expectation of receiving support after giving birth to a baby often causes Stressors that may lead to depression during postpartum period. Many student mothers have expressed feelings of guilt, worry and inadequacy in both as a student and as a mother.( Thompson, 2004)
Though not always does being a student mother have negative effect, it also has positive effects. Story (1999), as cited by Brown &Amankwaa (2007), has found out that student mothers are more responsible than those of regular students. He has seen that girls who were irresponsible before pregnancy has become more responsible after pregnancy and ismore less likely to drop out of College than the regular students.
For women who juggle family and student responsibilities, the lack of time is one of the major issues faced. (Liversidge, 2004) Many student mothers use different coping strategies to adjust to their situation. As stated by Grohman (2009), student mothers depend on time management to handle the many different tasks of a student mother. Another coping cited by Grohman&Renelamn (2009) is managing tasks to handle the things needed to be done as both student and a mother as well as emotional and physical support from both the partner and parents of the student mother.
Okey (2012) has said student-mothers go through a number of challenges as they live double lives as mothers and students. Often challenges are faced like lack of support due to other factors like lack of finances and time being limited.
A study by Boutan (2012) shows the feeling of student mother in regards to lifestyle she said thaGale (her participant) said she juggles multiple lifestyles as a full-time student and a full-time mom. This does make her feel disconnected from campus life.
Due to student mothers’ situation being difficult they have adapted coping mechanism. According to Okeyo (2012), Their coping mechanisms included: problem-focused, avoidance and emotion-focused strategies and the support they received upon resuming studies were spiritual and social support.
It was argued that raising a child involves a great deal of financial, emotional, and practical planning (Kidwell, 2004). it is necessary to make sure that there are adequate child care resources available. This may be very difficult to do if the student is going to school full-time. However, if the student decides to remain in school and take care of the child it may be more fpossibleif she has a partner or family member who will provide additional help to care for the child (Kidwell, 2004). Parenting is very stressful and some women cannot deal with all of the tasks that are involved. It is best if there are people around who are there to assist. Although it is best to have family, friends and spousal support after giving birth to a baby this expectation often causes Stressors that may lead to depression during the postpartum period. (Brown &Amankwaa, 2007)
In this study a qualitative exploratory design was used, allowing the researchers to get an in-depth understanding of the socio-educational problems faced by Student Mothers. Qualitative research has the advantage of uncovering the lived experiences of individuals by enabling them to interpret and attribute meaning to their experiences and in the process construct their worlds (Merriam and Simpson 2000, as cited in Berg &Mamhute, 2013)
Respondents of the Study
Respondents of the study are the student mothers of Lourdes College, in the second semester of S.Y. 2014-2015. There were a number of three (3) identified single mothers in Lourdes College who volunteered and provided time to participate in this study.
The primary tool used in gathering data was in a form of a one-on-one interview with the respondents. The interview was focused on the challenges, coping strategies, realizations of student mothers.
In this study, the researcher used purposive sampling in which the researcher chose only student mothers who are caring for a child below seven (7) years of age and are studying in Lourdes College.
Data Gathering Procedure
Prior to data gathering, the researcher prepared an informed consent letter to be given to the respondents of the study, voluntary participation was highly emphasized in the letter of consent.
The data-gathering procedure was done in a form of one-to-one interview in which the researcher took written notes. All interviews were tape recorded. The interviews were informal and open ended, and carried out in a conversational style.
- Profile of respondents:
AGE OF CHILD
Experiences of Student Mothers:
For Ione (27), her experiences are that its tiring, struggling with subjects, concentration, especially when at home and doing her homework, and time management.
As for Dianne (21) her experience and struggle is that she struggles to manage her time between school, the child and for herself.
And for Tepa (23), time management is the most difficult part for her. She stated that she needs to wake-up early and prepare especially now that her son is going to school.
Coping strategies of student mothers:
For Ione (27), she copes by focusing on school and home separately another coping is that thinking positive and being optimistic and going with the flow.
As for Dianne (21), her coping is working hard and praying.
And as for Tepa (23) she copes by not getting stressed being optimistic and being welcomed by her child at home.
Factors that helped them:
For Ione (27), her biggest factor that helped her cope being a student mother is her Husband, For Dianne (21),its being accepted by her family and friends. And for Tepa (23) she views her mother as the biggest factor that has helped her.
Learnings of student mothers:
As for Ione (27) she has learned that being a student mother is not easy but challenging. She also learned that a s a mother she needs to learn to set her priorities. And she learned that one should grab the opportunity to learn and study while still single.
Dianne (21) learned that one should not be careless in choosing partners and achieve your goals despite having a child.
And Tepa (23) learned that you should not panic and should be knowledgeable of the consequences of your actions.
Time management is seen as the common obstacle for these student mothers. Because the live double lives as a mother and as a student, they struggle to split their time to accommodate all their responsibilities. This is supported by Grohamm (2009) work, student mothers greatly depend on time management.
For coping the respondents commonly rely on being positive and not being stressed about their situation. As for the factors they consider that greatly helped them cope the common factor was the help of family members and husband. This is supported be works of Kidwell (2004), Thompson(20014 and Okeyo(2012) that it lessens the burden on the student mother if there are people around her who can help in caring for the child. This is evident as stated by Ione (27) that when she has things she needs to do at home her husband is the one who takes care of the child and as for Tepa (23) she stated that her mother has helped her both financially and caring for the child at home.
The most common learning of the student mothers is that one should not be rash and should know the consequences of their actions.
Time management is the biggest obstacle of being a student mother as you need to divide your time between school and caring for the child. As for the coping strategy it is seen that the having a positive outlook is effective in handling different situations as a student mother.
Yocheved Grohman, Renelamn (2009). Coping Stategies used by student mothers to succeed in Occupational Therapy School.
Donna Mcgee Thompson (2004). A tunnel of Hope: the experiences of student mothers attending Community College based developmental study Program. Students affairs: Experiencing Higher education : P.67
Brown RL, Awankwaa AA. (2007). College Females as Mothers : Balancing the roles of Student and Motherhood.
Sharon Liversidge (2004). It’s no Five O’clock World : The lived experiences of re/entering mothers in Nursing Education. Students affairs: Experiencing Higher education : p. 42
ChelseyBoutan (2012). Student mothers: Joys, Hardships, Misconceptions. From: http://northernstar.info/campus/news/student-mothers-joys-hardships-misconceptions/article_e1502dba-47c5-11e1-a057-0019bb30f31a.html?mode=story
Kidwell, Christine & Professional Staff (2004). “Some facts psychologists know about unplanned pregnancy”. Retrieved March 6, from <www.psc.uc.edu/sh/SH Unplanned%20Pregnancy.htm>
Okeyo, LinnahApondi (2012). Schooling challenges and coping mechanisms adapted by student-mothers in secondary schools in Nyando District, Kenya. From: http://irlibrary.ku.ac.ke/bitstream/handle/123456789/3611/Linnah%20Apondi.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
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