Deciding to Parent
How a Baby May Impact Your Education and Career
What are the effects of teenage pregnancy on education? Can you be a parent in college? How will you manage work, school and a baby? Find out how having a baby may impact your personal goals and ambitions.
You’ve heard it over and over: Having a baby is exciting, but it can also be “the end of your life” as you know it. If you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy, you’re probably concerned about how your pregnancy will affect your educational and career goals moving forward — especially if you are considering parenting your child after he or she is born.
Becoming a parent is a decision that will change your life in an enormous way. The things you planned for before your pregnancy will not be achieved as easily once you have a baby in tow. While you can certainly still strive for the same things, the fact is that pregnancy, education, work and parenting will make reaching those goals much more complicated.
Before choosing to become a parent, think about how this choice will affect your life moving forward. Below, find out how pregnancy and parenting can impact three different areas: high school and college education, and your career.
Effects of Teenage Pregnancy on Education
Teen pregnancy and education don’t often seem like two things that mix. After all, the trials of pregnancy (not to mention parenting, if a woman chooses to do so) can make the spontaneous high school activities of hanging with friends, studying and having fun seem impossible.
Teen pregnancy education statistics in the U.S. are rightfully troublesome. Thirty percent of women who drop out of high school do so because of pregnancy or parenthood. Only about half of women who give birth as a teen end up achieving their high school diploma, compared to 90 percent who do not have a teenage birth. Only about 40 percent of those who have a baby before age 18 finish high school, and fewer than 2 percent finish college by age 30.
It’s no wonder why teenage pregnancy causes school dropouts; women who are pregnant are more tired than their peers, and it can be difficult to concentrate on schoolwork when you are growing and eventually giving birth to a baby. In many schools, there is no equivalent for maternity leave when it comes to teen pregnancy and education.
That’s not to say that all teenagers who become pregnant do not finish their high school education. If you are in this situation, pregnancy and school is still an option for you. It may just be a nontraditional path.
In order to continue your teenage pregnancy at school, you may need to attend an alternative high school for students in situations like yours. You might also consider night school or a similar GED program. However, before choosing any of these, make sure to speak with your current school administrator to determine what kind of rescheduling and allowances they can make for you during your pregnancy.
You will also need support from your loved ones if you wish to overcome the teenage pregnancy effects on education. It can be scary to tell your parents about your pregnancy, but they can be instrumental in helping you receive the medical care you need and supporting you as you start a nontraditional schooling program. When it’s tempting to give up during difficult times, your support system can help motivate you to finish your education — which is crucial to keeping your future options open.
If you make the choice to continue your pregnancy, keep in mind that adoption is also an option. While it may be difficult to stay in school during your pregnancy, choosing adoption will not require you take on the additional responsibility of parenting after birth, and it will give your child the chance at a life you cannot provide. Placing a baby for adoption will also make it more likely that you obtain your high school degree.
If you do not wish to continue your pregnancy and education, you may consider abortion as an unplanned pregnancy option. Read more here about whether this choice will require your parents’ consent.
Effects of Pregnancy and Parenting on Higher Education
Teen pregnancy education statistics are not outliers when it comes to pregnancy’s effect on a woman. Women who become unexpectedly pregnant in college face the same challenges, often amplified.
In comparison to those who become pregnant in high school, it’s more common for people who become pregnant in college to parent their child — a choice which makes obtaining their degree infinitely harder. Not only do they have to work to afford college and their baby, they also need time to care for their child, create a safe, welcoming environment for their son or daughter and study for school. It’s no surprise, then, that fewer than 1 in 10 students with children complete a bachelor’s degree within six years of college entry. Unplanned births account for nearly 1 in 10 dropouts among female students at community college.
Whether you are currently experiencing pregnancy in school or have plans to obtain higher education, recognize that raising a child will make achieving your educational goals that much harder. Your child will become your first priority, which means you may need to delay your education to give them the life you want them to have. And, the longer you wait to obtain your higher education, the harder it will be to complete it.
Before you decide to pursue pregnancy and school (and eventual parenting), make sure you understand the challenges ahead of you and put the preparations in place to make this path as easy as possible.
If you wish to finish your degree before becoming a parent, you also have the options of abortion and adoption. If you choose to carry your baby to term for adoption, you may be eligible for financial assistance during your pregnancy and educational scholarships after your baby is born.
Effects of Pregnancy and Parenting on Your Career
What if you’ve already completed your education — and you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy when you are deep into your career? Can you have a baby and a career at the same time?
Working and having a baby comes with many similar challenges as higher education and parenting, although you may be in a more stable financial place than an expectant mother in college or high school. Often, these challenges revolve around delaying or giving up your career ambitions to do what is best for your child, if you do choose to parent.
Many parents today successfully work full-time, but this choice does take some acknowledgement of how to work with a baby and necessary preparations. When you are raising a child, you may not be able to put in extra time and effort to impress your boss, and you may not be able to take life-changing opportunities for new jobs and locations. In return, you may find yourself at a standstill in your career as you focus your attention on your family.
This is not an uncommon situation. Despite years of equal-opportunity legislation, becoming a mother still limits a woman’s career progress. The salary of a woman decreases 4 percent for each child she has, and only 40 percent of women with children are breadwinners in their families. Because traditional ideas of childrearing still exist, many women find themselves being the stay-at-home parent and giving up their career to do so. Women who take a career break of two or more years often see their careers depressed and restricted.
Before having a baby and working at the same time, it’s important to consider these things. Are you ready to put aside your career ambitions to raise a child? If you have a partner, who will be the parent who focuses on the family, rather than work? How will you feel if that responsibility falls to you?
Consider speaking to other working parents you know to learn more about the realities of how to work and have a baby without sacrificing too much of your personal goals and dreams.
Regardless of what decision you make for your unplanned pregnancy, your life will change. If you are considering adoption or parenting, know that your pregnancy will likely affect your education and career. Approaching these changes with knowledge and preparation, however, can make these changes a bit easier for you.