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Keywords:

  • adolescent health;
  • teen parenting;
  • teen pregnancy;
  • focus groups;
  • African American

ABSTRACT

Objective

To understand single Black adolescent mothers’ perspectives on the sexual and parenting-related aspects of their relationships with the biological fathers of their children.

Methods

The study was a qualitative description of perspectives from a convenience sample of Black single (nonmarried) adolescent mothers. Data were generated through focus groups and interviews. Participants were recruited using self-referral and health provider referrals.

Setting

The study was conducted in a county public health department sexually transmitted diseases clinic in Rochester, New York.

Participants

Single mothers (N = 31) ages 15 to 19 participated in the study. The mean age of participants was 17.5 years (SD = 1.4).

Findings

Four themes were identified that reflected the major characteristics of the relationships between the mothers and the biological fathers of their children: (a) You will always care about your “baby daddy” because of your child, (b) Negative behavior is tolerated to keep the family together, (c) The “baby daddy” can get sex as long as we are not on bad terms, and (d) He will always be part of our lives.

Conclusion

Black adolescent mothers have complex relationships with the biological fathers of their children that may include ongoing sexual activity. The intersection of coparenting and sexual health needs among adolescent mothers highlights the importance of integrating sexually transmitted infections prevention with perinatal health programs. It is important to consider this unique coparenting relationship when providing risk-reduction counseling to young mothers.