A comparison between the social interactions of infants of adolescent and adult mothers
Boroda, Allison D.
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This thesis discusses the literature on adolescent mothers, their infants and children. Empirical research is described to show that adolescent mothers, like depressed mothers, have low S.E.S., education, and social support networks when compared to adult parents. Past studies are used in this thesis to illustrate adolescent mothers' tendencies toward intrusive and abusive behaviors with their children. Consequently, past literature on teenage motherhood is used to show that adolescents' children have lower scores on cognitive, motor and social scales of development. This thesis attempts to depict a gap in studies that have been conducted on adolescent mothers and their children. The study supposes that adolescent mothers are similar to depressed mothers as well as other high-risk populations (such as low-income or poorly educated mothers). It is suggested that the behaviors of adolescent mothers' infants will be similar to the behaviors described in the literature on children of depressed mothers. This thesis examines gaze toward mother, smile, grimace, fuss and dyadic vocal turn-taking in forty, 3-month-old children of adult and adolescent mothers during the face-to-face and stillface paradigms. Literature on the still-face situation is presented as a model for baseline reaction to maternal unavailability. The still-face situation is described as distressful to infants of middle income, white mothers. However, this study shows that infants of adolescent mothers do not find the still-face situation as distressful when compared to the face-to-face situation. As adolescent mothers became increasingly angry or sad while playing with their infants, this appeared to be related to the infant's response to the still-face. Infants with angry or sad mothers increased their smiling in response to the still-face. Conversely, infants of adult mothers grimaced and fussed more when their mothers were intrusive and poked the infant a lot during play. While no differences were found between the adult versus teen mother-infant interaction during play, it is suggested that some biological difference may exist between the infants of adult and adolescent mothers. Thus, differences between these groups appeared in when the relationship between mother and infant behavior was examined.