PLU professor takes a positive look at the reality of teen parenting
By Lara Price, Mast senior reporter
After studying the behavior of pregnant and parenting mothers in a high school-based program, Sociology professor Joanna Higginson reflected on her findings about the consequences of teenage parents and how their lives have changed and transformed.
Higginson recalled being with a young teenage mother as she walked through the grocery line, baby in arms. The mother paid for her week's worth of groceries with food stamps.
The cashier turned to her and said, "The transaction would be faster if you paid cash. I guess you didn't think about that when you decided to have this kid." The young girl escaped from the store in tears.
As part of the Feminist Scholarship Lecture Series, Higginson gave a lecture last November titled Transformed Selves, Transformed Relationships: The Consequences of Teenage Parenting.
Teenage pregnancy has become a hot political debate, Higginson said, under the limelight of the media. Although the public focuses on the misfortune of teen mothers, Higginson found hope in the lives of the mothers she studied. "It's not tragedy, it's transformation," she said.
Higginson conducted her research project through a program at a teen center in Colorado. The objectives of the program were to help over 60 teen mothers finish high school, she said, and to stop subsequent pregnancies. Originally a volunteer, Higginson became a staff member and a friend to these young women over a period of four years.
Higginson's research methods consisted of participant observation and personal interviews.
Reprinted with permission of the PLU Mooring Mast