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uni'wissen 01(3)-2011_ENG

Laurenz is 19, and will soon be a father. He isn’t happy about it, because he doesn’t even know yet what he wants to do with his own life. He broke off one apprenticeship and has just started another, but he doesn’t really like it. His mother is pressuring him to continue it anyway, because a child costs a lot of money. His father doesn’t say anything. He hasn’t played a role in Laurenz’ life at all. And then there are his girl- friend Nora’s parents, who accuse him of one thing after the other: how irresponsible it is to have a child with a seventeen-year-old girl and why he, the older one, wasn’t more careful. There is talk of abortion and breaking up. What isn’t being talked about is what Laurenz and Nora want. At that age, say the adults, people don’t know what they want yet. The fact is that youth is a time when we have to make a lot of far reaching decisions about our lives. If we suddenly find out that a child is on its All Grown Up A Catholic Welfare Studies Research Group in Freiburg Finds Out What Teenage Parents Really Need by Stephanie Streif way, the difficulty of developing our own poten- tial is compounded by the need to care for an- other human being. In addition, many teenage parents have difficult family backgrounds and hope that the world they create with their own child will be a better one than that from which they come. But this usually is not the case. “Teenage parents have to master a dual develop- mental task,” says Klaus Baumann, professor for Catholic welfare studies and Christian social work at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Freiburg. With funding from the Stifterver- band, a foundation for German science and re- search, Baumann is conducting a qualitative and quantitative study to find out how teenage parents deal with this situation and what forms of psychosocial support they need. What’s new about the study is that it also takes the fathers into account: “We still know far too little about the skills of teenage fathers. Existing fundamen- tal research tells us next to nothing about them.” Young, caring, affectionate: The Catholic welfare studies ­research project is focusing on the parenting skills of teenagers. Photo: Mother-Child Living ­Community Muggensturm 36