The Youngest Parents

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9780393040821: The Youngest Parents
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Prominent child psychiatrist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Coles asks us to shed our preconceptions and listen to the compelling voices of young women and men who are soon to become parents though barely out of childhood themselves.

These teenage parents are black, white, and Hispanic; city dwellers and residents of small towns. From conversations with these teenagers, Dr. Coles weaves a subtle yet dramatic narrative that reveals the aspirations and apprehensions of these "youngest parents" whose prospects aren't very promising and whose assumptions aren't always those he, or we, share. Young mothers don't have an easy time ahead of them, but many pregnant teens believe that the babies they carry will lead lives very different from their own, that their babies may find the success that eludes them and may escape the limitations they've suffered. Dr. Coles finds that the fathers' confusion and, sometimes, resentment give way to a deep longing for respect and a desire for a way out of lives limited by poverty and poor education. Dr. Coles's text is accompanied by photographic essays by two outstanding American photographers. Jocelyn Lee, a photographer based in Boston, lived intimately with young families in Massachusetts where she explored the daily lives of young parents. John Moses, a pediatrician and photographer, worked for several years with teenage parents in rural North Carolina, and his pictures show the pride and tenderness they've found in family life.

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About the Author:

Robert Coles is a child psychiatrist and writer who has spent his life doing documentary work. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts.

From Kirkus Reviews:

An intermittently arresting, consistently disconcerting portrait of teen parents and expectant parents in America today. Harvard child psychiatrist and Pulitzer Prizewinning author Coles (The Moral Intelligence of Children, 1997, etc.), along with his three adult sons, spent several years interviewing dozens of teen parents of different races and classes in cities and small towns. Despite the divergence among the interviewees, a number of patterns emerge, among them the distrust between females and males. This is most apparent and unsettling among young blacks. The girls view the males as worthless beyond their powers to create a baby, and the males sense that the girls exploit them solely for this purpose. As one young man tells Coles, ``The girls you're going out with, they don't really respect you, they just don't. Why? They have something in mind for themselves, that's what: to get themselves pregnant, it's all they want from us, the juice . . . when it's over they want you . . . out of their lives.'' Another common link among most of the interviewees is their lack of success in school. Most of these young parents hated the time they spent there and look forward to having a ``legitimate'' excuse to end their schooling. Parenting a baby gives these teens a raison d'ˆtre; they sincerely love having something they can call their own. While none of these parents wants children for the sake of securing welfare, welfare is clearly an indispensable part of their lives. When Coles asks one young mother if welfare reform can break the cycle of poverty and dependence, she considers the difficulties of finding work and child care and says, ``You take welfare from us, we got nothing.'' A disturbing if inconclusive study, memorable for the voices of these young people. (80 b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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9780393319965: The Youngest Parents

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ISBN 10:  0393319962 ISBN 13:  9780393319965
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000
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