In the United States, in one year alone, 329,797 teen moms gave birth, according to 2011 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Teen moms have an array of challenges unique to the young mother. From not having a partner to help raise the baby to finishing school and finding a job, often, these issues are more than a teen can deal with on her own. Support groups can help inform and educate the teen and provide an emotional outlet for teen mothers.
1. Discussion Groups
Getting together with other teen mothers provides a way for adolescent parents to find support from peers faced with a similar situation. Typically, these support groups feature meetings that focus on discussing issues, challenges, problems and triumphs that teen moms experience. While a lecture by a pro or expert guidance isn't out of the question for these types of meetings, the discussion group will likely include an open conversation about topics that interest and apply to teen moms. For example, the parenting group Mothers of Preschoolers International has a Teen MOPS division that offers discussion groups in schools or community centers that help adolescent parents to come together and talk about what they are going through. Additionally, there are regional programs such as Seattle's Teen Parent Support Program -- which offers outings and field trips along with discussions and classes at local family centers -- and the Brooklyn Young Mothers' Collective.
2. Online Support Groups
Between finding a babysitter, school, work and other scheduling conflicts, it is challenging for many teen moms to actually get to an in-person support meeting. In lieu of going to a face-to-face support group, teenage mothers can turn to an online version. Websites such as the Young Mommies Homesite. Cafe Mom, Circle of Moms and MDJunction all provide teen mothers with an online community to ask and get answers to questions and find a friendly voice. Through chat rooms and message boards, teen mothers can use an online support group in much the same way than they would a more traditional version.
3. Health Care Providers
Medical centers, hospitals and other health care providers often offer support groups for teen mothers. These groups feature discussion-type formats as well as medical information that a licensed or trained professional offers. A health care provider's teen mothers' groups may feature an array of topics on pregnancy and parenting. The Newark Beth Israel Medical Center's monthly support groups include information about caring your health during pregnancy, child development, positive discipline and finding parenting resources. The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, New York also features a program for teen mothers. The Mothers of Mount Sinai program features advice, support and weekly discussion group meetings. Additionally, health departments may also offer teen mom support groups. For example, the Wakulla County Health Department in Florida provides teen parents with a weekly free discussion group that provides guidance and support.
4. School Groups
While most traditional high schools don't offer support groups for teen moms, some in high-risk areas or those that have specially designed pregnancy and parenting programs do. These school-based support groups bring peers together who are either currently pregnant or already have given birth. The school group may also include case management -- from a school social worker or similar professional -- ongoing health and child development education and the opportunity to find friendship and emotional support from other teens who aren't only in the same situation, but also live in the same community. For example, the Jefferson County Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting Program in Golden, Colorado offers social group activities and parenting group classes, the Longfellow High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota offers support through the Minneapolis Public Schools and Teen Pregnancy and Parenting Program and the William Workman High School in Industry, California has ten parents programs.