Electronic supplementary material
Data gathering and generation
The family context before pregnancy
Other types of relationship were defined as “good family relations”, according to the teen girls, and were based on the absence of fights, even in the presence of repression. These teens had their material needs covered, but did not like it when they were prohibited from going to parties or arriving home late. This situation was described by 13-year-old Yaqui (cohabiting with her boyfriend):I did not want any more mistreatment or physical abuse, and that is why I left… I have two half-brothers, both younger, who were treated better than me. My stepfather hit me in front of my mother and she did not say anything.
“Normal family relations” were referred to when the teen girl and their parents got along well, even though fights did occur at times. Quite notable in these cases was ambivalence in the girls’ emotions, leading to having sexual relations and pregnancy. This situation is represented by 18-year-old Jazmin (single):Everything was all right with my mom— she did her thing and I did mine. It is just that I was fed up because she did not let me go to parties.
One characteristic that has been documented within the context of the pregnancy in the adolescents is dropping out of school, a situation that was confirmed with our interviews: there were cases in which the participants did not like school and before they got pregnant they had already left school, while others did so during pregnancy. On becoming pregnant, 18 teen girls dropped out of school. Another 11 had decided to start working or simply stay at home and rest. As Carmen, a 15-year-old (living with her boyfriend) reported:I felt very restricted… my father kept a close eye on me. Even though I did not love Pedro [father of her child] … I had relations with him. I did so because my parents did not like him.
The average level of education of the teen girls was short of completing middle school (9 years), this level being similar (the same or less) to levels in the previous generation. The mothers of these girls were employed outside of the home as servants, street vendors, seamstresses or workers. Consequently, they spent time with their teen daughters only on weekends. In three cases, the mothers were widows or single and had to migrate to other cities while their daughter stayed with the grandparents.I don’t like school, I asked my parents to let me take off a year. But I did not come back and went to live with my son’s father.
My mom and my dad studied until high school, but I did not even finish it. School was not for me.
Perceptions of feelings
Of great importance is that 21 of the teenagers stated that they had sexual relations with the intention of seeking love. In this sense, the teenagers emphasized that their loneliness and the indifference and repression that they perceived from their mother and father led them to secretly go out with a boy, resulting in brief dating periods before sexual relations began. The encounters between the teen girl and her boyfriend generally took place when the parents and relatives were not at home, and they usually met on the street corner closest to her house. The young couple would then covertly enter the house. The boyfriends were in most cases school or work mates, and some times neighbours. However, the beginning of sexual relations was motivated by anger or curiosity for some participants. Even though the teens had the stated intention of starting their own families, this situation was not expected so soon. The girls stated that they had unprotected sexual relations out of feelings of love, even rejecting some form of birth control when offered by the boyfriend.I was always fighting with my mother. I got along well with my dad since I almost never saw him. He leaves early and arrives home late.
When the girl began going out with a boy, the relatives noted a radical change in her behaviour. She became temperamental (often crying), aggressive, sad and indifferent, and insisted on permission to leave the house with greater frequency.He [her boyfriend] told me to use a condom, and I answered: “No, it’s not the same… and we want to have a family. (Lizeth, 17 years old, only child).
When they begin to always ask permission to leave the house, you have to be very careful… It had already been several months that Lucero asked for permission, and very frequently, to go somewhere with her girlfriends… she was always angry and cried about everything. (Regina, 50 years old, mother of Lucero).
Before pregnancy: perceived emotions, including lonely and indifference to parents
a) My mother tried hard to provide us with everything we needed. I never even saw her… but I would have preferred that she was close to me. (Eréndira, 16 years old, youngest child)
b) Because I feel that, my mother was not me when I needed her, I wanted her to talk to me about my things, but she preferred to be with her boyfriend… (Josefina, 16 years old, oldest daughter)
c) My mom always had preferred my younger sister… she used to say that “she [the younger sister] really studies, not like you…” With my younger sister she is very tolerant… she gives her everything. (Vanesa, 18 years old, middle child)
d) Well, I think that the relation with them [her parents] has always been relegated to convenience, not based on feelings. Their words are: “Behave yourself and I won’t bother you.” They always left me with my grandfather, the father of my father. (Tonantzin, 16 years old, only child)
e) He [her boyfriend] told me to use a condom, and I answered: “No, it’s not the same… and we want to have a family. (Lizeth, 17 years old, only child)
f) When they begin to always ask permission to leave the house, you have to be very careful… It had already been several months that Lucero asked for permission, and very frequently, to go somewhere with her girlfriends… she was always angry and cried about everything. (Regina, 50 years old, mother of Lucero)
During pregnancy: family reactions to the event, including anger, joy? and uncertainty
g) When I left home, my brother got very mad at me for leaving without finishing school. When I got pregnant, it was seen as normal since I was already living with my boyfriend. (Marcy, 16 years old, cohabiting)
h) She asked me if I felt like having a baby and in fact from the time I was 13… 14 years old I wanted to have a child… I could not wait to be a father. (Juan, 18 years old, boyfriend of Karen, single)
i) With him [her boyfriend] , what can she expect? He does not even have enough to buy food. She will stay with us! I will support her. (Juan, 38 years old, father of Jazmin)
j) At first, my parents got angry, but then it happened and they helped me in everything I needed. (Daniela, 16 years old, single)
k) …And he [her brother] told me: you are already a mother and nobody is here to support you… If you get pregnant again, you will not leave the house, not even to go to school. (Lucero, 15 years old, single)
After childbirth: the reality of uncertainty, limited income and unfinished schooling
l) My daughter is not used to doing without, and he [her boyfriend] , what can he offer her? He can barely provide for himself… he does not have a steady job. (Hugo, 41 years old, father of Chela)
m) He [her boyfriend] went to work, painting a garage door, cutting grass… He did not finish school. He could not handle it. He was in school, had homework, and had to work... he did not have enough time. (Nancy, 18 years old, cohabiting)
n) I already feel somebody in my family; because now with my mother I talk more about the care of the children. (Maria, 16 years old, cohabiting)
o) I do the house cleaning and make dinner while my mom is at work, and after returning she helps me take care of my girl, and I go to junior high. (Karina, 13 years old, single)
p) He [her boyfriend] was very different. He always was waiting for me with roses or some gift… I felt very secure… he does not do that anymore. (Gina, 16 years old, cohabiting)
q) I felt lonely before getting pregnant… my parents did not even realize what was happening with me. Now that I live with Rubén [her husband] , I am feeling the same thing… he is almost never with me and I prefer it that way… he is almost always angry. Only the presence of my child consoles me… for him I put up with everything. (Sayra, 15 years old, married)
r) My son is the best thing that could have happened to me, I love him very much and he is my consolation, because sometimes I feel lonely. (Rosario, 16 years old, single)
s) Being mother brought me satisfaction whit my daughter, but I regret not having finished school or living longer as a single, I lacked more fun. (Pilar, 16 years old, cohabiting)
Reactions to the pregnancy
The usual pattern for the parents, upon hearing of the pregnancy, was to experience anger, sadness and disappointment, which identifies the cycle of feelings, including acceptance, and even the encouragement of an early marriage. As Fabiola (a 15-year-old) said:With him [her boyfriend], what can she expect? He does not even have enough to buy food. She will stay with us! I will support her. (Juan, 38 years old, father of Jazmin).
In spite of their emotions, the parents provided material, emotional and practical support (Table 1j). The grounds for this decision were that they, too, were given support when in the same situation. In some instances, the support provided by the parents jeopardized the economic stability of the family because the mother decided to leave a paying job to take care of her daughter.My mom was very angry when I ran away to get married, because my grandmother wanted me to get married the “right way”. My mother and all of my aunts got married the right way, even though some of them no longer live with the father of their children.
Six of the girls were prevented from getting married or cohabiting, and these teens made up their minds to live with their partner once they reached the age of majority. This is the age of 18 in Mexico and underage adolescents must have the signed consent of their parents or guardian in order to legally marry.…And he [her brother] told me: you are already a mother and nobody is here to support you… If you get pregnant again, you will not leave the house, not even to go to school. (Lucero, 15 years old, single).
The new reality: relations with the partner/family; self-perception of being a mother
For the girls who formed a family, the context was one of seeking the attention, love and time not provided to them by their parents. This situation was expressed by Marietta, a16-year-old (single):He [her boyfriend] went to work, painting a garage door, cutting grass… He did not finish school. He could not handle it. He was in school, had homework, and had to work... he did not have enough time. (Nancy, 18 years old, cohabiting).
Becoming a mother meant fulfilment for the girls in spite of the fear and worry experienced when they did not know how to inform their parents of the pregnancy. The expectations of each of the teen girls centred on the well-being of their child. They also expressed the desire to return to school and to work in any kind of job they could get to make ends meet.With my boyfriend, I did not feel lonely and I feel love .Once I was pregnant, my parents did not let me be with him, and my mom stopped doing her things in order to take care of me. I feel they pay me more attention to me, even though I live separated from him [her boyfriend] .
In some cases, this was due to the heavy workload of their partner who was away long hours of the day or even for weeks at a time. Consequently, the girls did not receive the attention that they had experienced when going out with their boyfriend before getting pregnant. For this reason, the child represented a consolation for some of the new mothers and a reason to put up with the indifference of their partner.I felt lonely before getting pregnant… my parents did not even realize what was happening with me. Now that I live with Rubén [her husband], I am feeling the same thing… he is almost never with me and I prefer it that way… he is almost always angry. Only the presence of my child consoles me… for him I put up with everything. (Sayra, 15 years old, married).
Contradictory narratives were given with respect to the self-perception of the girls as mothers. Some argued that their child temporarily compensated for their solitude, while others described their indifference to the child. Still others felt their desires repressed and regretted not having continued their studies. These girls argued that they did not have fun anymore, since they were always busy taking care of their child or their partner (Table 1s).My son is the best thing that could have happened to me. I love him very much and he is my consolation, because sometimes I feel lonely. (Rosario, 16 years old, single).
Being a mother brought me satisfaction with my daughter, but I regret not having finished school or living longer single. I don’t have fun anymore (Pilar, 16 years old, cohabiting).