Early Motherhood and Poverty

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The Backbone of Society

The idea that women are the backbone of society is one that has been reflected not only in earlier societies but also strongly in the one we currently live in. The woman was renowned for her nurturing and caring qualities, which distinguished her as a unique presence in everyone from infancy through adulthood. Women are the ones who give birth to children because they carry the fetus in their wombs for roughly nine months before the baby is born. However, the challenge of early and unplanned for pregnancies has been a factor that has raised questions about the ability of women to manage to provide care for children born to such cases.

Motherhood Before Marriage

Most affected women in these instances are those from poor financial backgrounds, who are most susceptible to getting pregnant at an early age (Edin & Kefalas, 2011). The essay intends to look at the reasons behind motherhood before marriage highlighted in the book by Edin, K., & Kefalas, M. (2011), Promises I can keep: Why poor women put motherhood before marriage. Also, the essay will look at the impact of childbearing on these mothers and the influence of gender and social class to the choices that these women make. Early childbearing among the poor mothers is on a high, and the need to understand the reasons behind the statistic is compelling enough to analyze the underlying factors.

Reasons for Early Motherhood

According to Edin and Kefalas (2011), most of the women who put motherhood before marriage do it due to the social circumstances that face them in their daily lives. These conditions are those of poverty and the poor living conditions of their immediate surrounding that faces them and has been embraced as part of their lives. Most of the women in the areas of study are of the middle class and poor living standards that have different priorities depending on the shape and influence that they intend their lives to be based on. As discussed by Edin and Kefalas (2011), most of the women who are in poverty are the ones faced with the problems that arise from early pregnancy.

Repercussions of Early Motherhood

The conditions that have led to the early motherhood are as a result of no hope for the future and a bleak present that sets them to have to pursue motherhood to gain satisfaction in their lives. The prospects of completion of school and attainment of degrees look like a far-fetched idea for the poor women in these societies, and it influences their decisions to have children as they would not have any compromise to make on being a mother at an early age. Additionally, having careers that are straining and time consuming is never in these women minds as they have been made to believe or they believe that they cannot have those opportunities in any way possible.

Impact on Relationships and Children

Edin and Kefalas (2011), view that the early pregnancies for the case of the women involved have some repercussions that are as a result of their early motherhood. These include the notion and a fact that being a mother at such an early age limits the number of bachelor's or men that are willing to settle for women with children out of wedlock. Additionally, the society has made it almost seem like a taboo and labeled it as wrong to have kids without being married which puts off the potential suitors for these women. Also, Edin and Kefalas (2011) are of the view that the men available to the women with early childhood births are those that experience difficulties in getting or keeping jobs due to their lack of college education or available opportunities to the men are quite limited.

Challenges Faced by Women

Moreover, these men are problematic as most of them struggle with addiction, alcoholism, drug abuse and gambling which not only affects the relationships that they have but also affect the children’s lives that are raised by the mothers who had the early births. Being a protective parent, most of the women resist the temptation of falling into such relationships and also adds to their struggles in raising the kids as single parents.

Inequality and Limited Opportunities

Being a woman in these middle class and poor societies comes with its fair amount of challenges that affect both the females and the children who are raised in the conditions of these communities (Edin & Kefalas, 2011). Being a woman makes the society treat them differently, by not giving them the deserved opportunities in life, while restricting the women to performing duties that are associated with inferiority. The inferiority complex that faces the female sex is a hindrance to their goals and ambition and limits them to having children as they have no other roles to assume and perform in the society. Being a female in these environments seems unfair compared to the advantages and immense opportunities that come with their male counterparts.

The Influence of Poverty

In conclusion, the most concerning factor that influences the choices of the women who go into early motherhood is the fact that they are poor. Poverty is a thorn that faces these women, and they are mostly stricken by the fact that it shapes their lives explicitly. Edin and Kefalas (2011) point out that being poor in these environments makes the women have limited choices to make with regards to their lives and as a result bearing of children and taking care of the children seems like an attractive option. It provides satisfaction and some fulfillment in the lives of these women despite the repercussions associated with the early childbirth. The lack of hope or a clear vision for the future adds to the influence of making the women have early pregnancies due to their states of poverty. Providing the women with knowledge and guidance on the best ways to approach life surely seems like the right path to address the concerns of early motherhood.


Edin, K., & Kefalas, M. (2011). Promises I can keep: Why poor women put motherhood before marriage. University of California Press.

March 23, 2023

Sociology Family



Subject area:

Woman Society Children

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