Parenting their children : the experiences of young women at Kwa-Makhutha township in Kwazulu-Natal.
Mavundla, Penelop Sibonelo.
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Globally, studies have shown higher fertility rate amongst young women compared to other age groups. The challenges of early parenthood often have negative consequences for young women, including disappointment from parents, financial challenges and having to negotiate life tasks with a young dependent. The aim of this study was to understand the factors influencing parenting among young women in KwaMakhutha Township. The study used a social constructivism approach to understand the meaning participants attach to their experiences of early motherhood. This qualitative study included 21 young mothers selected through a snowball sampling technique. Data were collected through individual interviews, and permission was obtained from participants to record these interviews, which were later transcribed and translated from IsiZulu into English. I used thematic data analysis and the findings of the study showed that young mothers face many challenges, but these also helped the participants to grow and be responsible for their children. Some participants reported undesirable experiences including financial challenges, rejection by family and fathers of the children and the need to earn a living in order to support themselves and their children. Those who had some positive experience expressed personal growth and an increased sense of responsibility. The absence of fathers in the care of children was a conspicuous outcome as these young fathers either reported to have denied responsibility for the parenting or being incapable of financially supporting their children. As a result, young mothers were left to take full responsibility for the financial, physical and emotional needs of their children. None of the participants would recommend early motherhood to other young women. This insight can be considered by government and other relevant stakeholders to develop youth-friendly healthcare facilities, specifically in the provision of reproductive health and rights services to adolescent girls and young women. This study therefore concludes that it is challenging for young women to raise their child without full support of their partners or primary care givers. Although the child support grant is financially helpful, this study identified a great need for psychosocial support services in the prevention of early parenthood amongst adolescent girls and young women, support to young mothers and their families, and the implementation of policies and programs that support young mothers who bear the burden of raising the children alone.