As of 1992, nearly 1 out of every 10 births in the United States was to a single adolescent female (National Center for Health Statistics, 1994). Becoming an adolescent parent is known to elicit significant psychosocial changes. Most adolescents are not capable of accepting all of the responsibilities of the maternal role and the attachment process. The theoretical framework of Erikson's Psychosocial Theory reflects the concept of adolescent parenting constituting a potential crisis situation. The adolescent is torn between self-satisfaction and attending to the needs of the infant, which correlates with role confusion, as explained in the developmental stage of role confusion versus self-identity. It is during this stage of development that the mother-infant attachment process is at risk for negative outcome. This study sought to involve the adolescent in identifying problem areas that may impede the mother-infant attachment process. Two research questions directed the study: What are the perceived problems of attachment experienced by the adolescent mother and is there a difference in perceived problems of attachment experienced by third trimester and postpartum adolescent mothers? The setting for this descriptive study was a private obstetric/gynecology clinic in an urban southern state. The convenience sample (N = 20) consisted of 20 primagravid adolescent females 14 to 17 years of age, who are in their last trimester of pregnancy or 6 weeks postpartum. The tool. Problem Assessment Guide, was utilized. A descriptive analysis using statistics including frequency counts, ranges, means, and standard deviations were used to describe the data. A 74% positive response rate emerged which indicated the initial motherinfant attachment process is positive. The 26% rate of negative response places the attachment process at risk. Major concerns of these adolescent mothers were focused on the newborn, adolescent growth and development, emotions, and socioeconomic support. It is important that the problems which may impede attachment process between a mother and her infant are identified, so that interventions are instituted which promote optimum wellbeing for the mother-infant dyad as soon as possible. Recommendation for a replication of this study using a larger number of adolescent mothers in a variety of settings to be conducted for generalization is suggested.


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Graduate Nursing

Degree Date


Publication Number


First Advisor

Dr. Mary Patricia Curtis

Second Advisor

Dr. Linda Sullivan

Third Advisor

Jessica Alexander

Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons