Date of Conferral
Adolescent girls often face barriers to fulfill their educational aspirations after childbearing. Unfulfilled goals tend to be associated with low educational attainment and other adverse outcomes for the young mothers, their children, and society. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of Barbadian young women who parented as adolescents and struggled to graduate from formal secondary school. The goal was to understand their perceptions of support for their educational aspirations by their peers and significant others. Social constructionism was the conceptual framework. Moustakas’ transcendental method guided data collection and analysis. Data were collected by conducting in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 8 Barbadian women who bore children in their teen years and who struggled to complete formal high school. Rich descriptions emerged from the essence of their experiences and provided insight into the academic and emotional needs of school-age mothers. The analysis revealed that they experienced challenges balancing motherhood and being a student, stigma, hopelessness, and determination to reach their aspirations. They also experienced support by their friends, school personnel, and their families but they experienced little support from the fathers of their children. This study has implications that could affect positive social change by informing educators and families of the importance of meeting the unique needs of this vulnerable group. Educational leaders and policymakers could use these findings to guide programs aimed at empowering pregnant or parenting girls to achieve educational success and long-term socioeconomic well being.