Prominent child psychiatrist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Coles asks us to shed our preconceptions and listen to the compelling voices of young women and men who are soon to become parents though barely out of childhood themselves.
These teenage parents are black, white, and Hispanic; city dwellers and residents of small towns. From conversations with these teenagers, Dr. Coles weaves a subtle yet dramatic narrative that reveals the aspirations and apprehensions of these "youngest parents" whose prospects aren't very promising and whose assumptions aren't always those he, or we, share. Young mothers don't have an easy time ahead of them, but many pregnant teens believe that the babies they carry will lead lives very different from their own, that their babies may find the success that eludes them and may escape the limitations they've suffered. Dr. Coles finds that the fathers' confusion and, sometimes, resentment give way to a deep longing for respect and a desire for a way out of lives limited by poverty and poor education. Dr. Coles's text is accompanied by photographic essays by two outstanding American photographers. Jocelyn Lee, a photographer based in Boston, lived intimately with young families in Massachusetts where she explored the daily lives of young parents. John Moses, a pediatrician and photographer, worked for several years with teenage parents in rural North Carolina, and his pictures show the pride and tenderness they've found in family life.