Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Gyda Swaney

Commitee Members

Christine Fiore, John Sommer-Flanagan


traditional roles, unhealthy relationships, qualitative research, bullying, Teen parents, American Indian


University of Montana


Although there is extensive research on the outcomes of teen mothers and their children, there is little research to date on how teen parents, especially American Indian teen parents, are functioning in their new role. This is alarming as the rate of births to American Indian teens is far greater than the same-aged Non-Hispanic White population. This study examined the lived experiences of teen parents currently living on a Northern Plains Indian Reservation. Seven participants were interviewed using a phenomenological method. Interviews were analyzed using NVivo and Giorgi’s method. The themes that emerged were traditional roles (child role, parent role, and grandmother role) positive life changes (increased educational goals and reduced risky behavior and being bullied (before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and after the birth.) The fourth theme identified was unhealthy partner relationships. Teen parents who had a “grandmother” to guide them successfully assumed the parenting role, realized the importance of education and enrolled in school (high school, tribal college, and university), and decreased their risk-taking behavior (e.g., stopped drinking and fighting). All of the participants had been bullied before, during, and after the pregnancy; this seems to be a risk-factor for teen pregnancy. All of the participants were involved, or had been involved, in an unhealthy (emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive) relationship. The findings from this study will inform schools, tribal agencies, and the community about areas to focus services for teen parents.



© Copyright 2013 Ann Marie Douglas