This online workshop is comprised of 9 sessions where a combination of both synchronous and asynchronous conferencing is used to counsel adolescent parents. The workshop leader and participants will use Google Classroom to access materials used for this counselling workshop as well as Zoom.Us for weekly, face-to-face meeting times that are a requirement for the facilitation and success of this workshop.
Online Workshop Objectives
- Educate mothers and fathers on the connection between co-parenting and child development.
- Encourage participants to identify their abilities and deficiencies in the areas of communication with their co-parent and allow them to understand how to best direct self-improvement efforts.
- Educate mothers and fathers on the benefits of father involvement and ways in which fathers can play an active role in co-parenting.
- Assist mothers and fathers in identifying stressors in their lives and recognizing healthy ways to cope with stress.
- Bring awareness to participants of supports available to adolescent parents within the city of Regina.
Online Workshop Content
Session 1 – Welcome & Introductions
Session 2 – Managing My Stress
Session 3 – Mother/Baby Yoga
Session 4 – Energy Zappers & Juicers
Session 5 – Mother/Baby Aqua Fitness
Baby Health & Development
Session 6 – Baby Development
Session 7 – Baby Health
Session 8 – Family & Social Supports
Session 9 – Group Closing
In June 2014, I became a first-time mother. I experienced the joys and challenges of parenthood alongside my husband. Despite having a stable relationship, income, prenatal knowledge and great family support, motherhood proves to be a challenge. I often found myself wondering how teenage mothers survive the daily demands of motherhood and what society is doing to support them. This interest led me to create a nine-week counselling program during the fall of 2014. The purpose of this program was to support adolescent parents, on a weekly basis, by teaching self-help care and baby development as well as providing education on social supports available to them, within the city of Regina. This project was research-based and served as a project in the class, Group Counselling Theories and Practice with JoLee Sasakamoose.
Fast forward 5 years and I have experienced, first-hand, the convenience of online learning for parents with infants and/or young children in the home. For example, online learning has accommodated my infant children who were reluctant to take a bottle from their father because they preferred breast-fed, nighttime routine. It was during these stages with infant children that I did not have to travel to a face-to-face classroom but rather, log into a class through my computer in the comfort of my home. This online learning example can also be applied to the opportunity for parents to tend to sick children who require parental care. I feel passionate to design an online course for adolescent mothers and their co-parents because of these types of demands/stressors of parenting. I strongly feel that online education could allow young parents easier and more convenient access to resources and education that would benefit their personal health and in turn, their child’s growth and development.
The following is research that I conducted for the purpose of this workshop’s design and facilitation:
Concern to be addressed by the online workshop
The issue of teenage pregnancy is widely researched and studied amongst scholars across the globe. In Canada, teenage pregnancy rates have been calculated and reported by Statistics Canada since 1974 by using data collected from various medical sources across the country. However, in 2005, Statistics Canada stopped calculating and publishing teenage pregnancy rates, leaving a wide gap in teenage pregnancy data (McKay, 2012, p. 162). Although this results in limitations to current research, studies show that teenage pregnancy continues to occur throughout Canada. Research conducted by McKay (2012) examines teen birth rates within the Canadian provinces and territories for the years 2007 to 2010. As McKay (2012) states, “While the teen birth rate was stable or fell slightly during these years in some provinces/ territories, the rate rose by 28.2 % in Newfoundland, 16.6% in New Brunswick, 15.7% in the Yukon, 8.5% in Nova Scotia, and 5.0% in the Northwest Territories. In sum, the long-term trend, spanning several decades, in which the Canadian teen birth rate was in decline appears to have levelled off after reaching its low in 2005 and teen birth rates increased in some regions of the country, most notably Atlantic Canada, in recent years” (p. 169). Based on these findings, it is apparent that teenage pregnancies continue to exist throughout Canada.
Postpartum depression is a threat to all women who give birth. Extensive research conducted by Kleiber and Dimidjian (2014) describe rates of postpartum depression among women of all ages ranging from 6.5 to 12.9% during the immediate postpartum period. However, they further explain that studies focusing on adolescent mothers show much higher rates, with estimates of nearly one-third to two-thirds of adolescent mothers suffering from moderate to severe levels of depression symptoms. Studies also identified that adolescent mother’s postpartum peaks between one to six months after delivery and declines afterwards (p. 49). Based on these findings, interventions and workshops for teenage mothers are necessary to assist in the prevention and management of postpartum depression.
Conceptualization of the problem & solution-focused strategies
“Concerns about the well-being of young mothers have led to a number of studies examining factors that are associated with their depression. These studies frequently focus on the availability and quality of social support for the mother. Several studies have found that the support provided to a young mother by the baby’s father is correlated with lower depression levels” (Fagan & Lee, 2009, p. 1110). As research suggests, there are theoretical frameworks which explain the link between father involvement and mothers’ depressive symptoms. The first explanation relies on the ideas from the self-determination theory, which suggest mothers’ often feel a sense of parenting competence from the act of co-parenting; the ways that parents work together in their roles as parents. Researchers have recognized that feelings of low parenting competency are associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms in new mothers, especially those who are adolescent (Fagan & Lee, 2009, p. 1110). Based on this information, fathers of teenage births should be encouraged to play an active role in co-parenting as it is likely to contribute to lower depression levels in their female co-parent.
The second theoretical framework which explains the link between father involvement and mothers’ depressive symptoms, draws on the ideas from the stress theory. The stress theory believes that the success of parental functioning is dependent on the stresses and supports experienced by the parents. Teenage mothers are at higher risk of experiencing parenting stress as they are often unprepared for the responsibilities associated with raising a child. Often times, teenage mothers lack proper prenatal knowledge, financial support and relationship stability. As research has shown, stresses placed on the child-parent system often results in negative effects to the child’s emotional and psychological development, especially during the first three years of life (Fagan & Lee, 2009, 1111). One means to reduce the risk of parenting stress for teenage mothers is supporting them in attaining proper relationship stability with the child’s father. “Recent studies have shown that adolescent fathers’ involvement with children is associated with lower levels of parenting stress in young mothers” (Fagan & Lee, 2009, 1111). Providing teenage mothers with the opportunity to establish a healthy co-parenting relationship with their child’s father will reduce the risk of parenting stress and thus, benefit the emotional and psychological development of the child and decrease depression levels amongst teenage mothers.
Practical Considerations of the Workshop
Recruitment procedures – In order to recruit members, the workshop leader will work closely with public/private school divisions and the health region to identify females, between the ages of fifteen and nineteen, who have recently given birth. Once identified, the group leader will contact mothers to explain the purpose of the group. This workshop is voluntary, therefore teenage mothers will then be responsible to express an interest in this support and notify the group leader of their desire to be involved. Participants must also have access to technology/internet services.
Screening procedures – For the purposes of this intervention, teenage mothers who express interest in this workshop must have a willing co-parent to participate with them. Fathers participating in this workshop can be between the ages of 15 and 24 years of age. In addition to this, participants must have access to technology/internet to participate in the online nature of the workshop.
Selection procedures – In order to select members, the group leader will conduct interviews with each mother and father who fit the screening criteria. Based on the interviews, the workshop leader will select five to eight couples who will be best suited for this group.
Size of the workshop – This intervention will consist of five to eight couples (ten to sixteen individuals). This workshop size will encourage cohesion and trust amongst participants and hopefully, encourage the adolescent mothers and fathers to share at personal levels.
Assessment strategies – The assessment procedures used for the purposes of this workshop will consist of a group evaluation form and self-assessment completed by each participant.
- I look forward to sharing the content and modules of this workshop with EC&I 834 in weeks to come!