A Parenting and Life Skills Intervention for Teen Mothers: A Randomized Controlled Trial


Teen mothers often present with depression, social complexity, and inadequate parenting skills. Many have rapid repeat pregnancy, which increases risk for poor outcomes. We conducted a randomized controlled trial of a parenting and life skills intervention for teen mothers aimed at impacting parenting and reproductive outcomes.


Teen mothers were recruited from a teen-tot clinic with integrated medical care and social services. Participants were randomly assigned 1:1 to receive (1) teen-tot services plus 5 interactive parenting and life skills modules adapted from the Nurturing and Ansell-Casey Life Skills curricula, delivered by a nurse and social worker over the infant’s first 15 months or (2) teen-tot services alone. A computerized questionnaire was self-administered at intake, 12, 24, and 36 months. Outcomes included maternal self-esteem, parenting attitudes associated with child maltreatment risk, maternal depression, life skills, and repeat pregnancy over a 36-month follow-up. We used generalized linear mixed modeling and logistic regression to examine intervention effects.


Of 152 invited, 140 (92%) participated (intervention = 72; control = 68). At 36 months, maternal self-esteem was higher in the intervention group compared with controls (P = .011), with higher scores on preparedness for mothering role (P = .011), acceptance of infant (P = .008), and expected relationship with infant (P = .029). Repeat pregnancy by 36 months was significantly lower for intervention versus control participants.


A brief parenting and/or life skills intervention paired with medical care for teens and their children has positive effects on maternal self-esteem and repeat pregnancy over 36 months.

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