Unlocking Success: The Five Protective Factors for Young Families Explained

Mothers playing with their children

Young parents, like all parents, benefit from having supportive resources and environments to help them navigate the challenges of parenthood and promote positive outcomes for both themselves and their children. Due to their early start, however, young parents may not yet have a foundation of life experiences and social connections that bolster what we call the “five protective factors” that support healthy children and families. In this article, we’ll discuss the five factors and why they are important for young families.

1. Parental Resilience

Young parents face unique stressors related to their age and potentially limited resources. By building parental resilience, parents can cope and process challenges in healthy and effective ways that maintain a stable and nurturing environment for their children. How a parent responds to adversity can directly impact the mental health of their children and their parent-child relationships.

2. Social Connections

Young parents, like all parents, often need support networks to share experiences, seek advice, and access resources. Strong social connections can provide emotional support, practical assistance, and opportunities for socialization, reducing feelings of isolation and enhancing parenting skills.

3. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

Young parents who may still be navigating their high school or college education may not have parenting and child development knowledge, or even access to parenting classes or support groups to help them make informed decisions. Programs like Maine Children’s Home’s Journey Program for young parents can provide access to important parenting and child development knowledge.

4. Concrete Support in Times of Need

Parents in their teens or early 20s may face financial instability, housing insecurity, or other challenges that can strain their ability to meet their family's needs. Access to tangible support such as housing assistance, childcare, healthcare services, and other community resources can help alleviate stress and ensure the well-being of both parents and children. 

5. Social and Emotional Competence of Children:

Supporting the social and emotional development of children is crucial for their overall well-being and resilience. All parents, regardless of age, can benefit from strategies that promote positive parent-child interactions, strengthen attachment bonds, and foster healthy emotional development in their children. 

By addressing these five protective factors for young families, parents in their teens and early 20s can enhance their capacity to provide nurturing and supportive environments for their children, promoting positive outcomes for both generations. This is why programs like MCH’s Journey Program exist: to provide parents who are in their teens or early 20s with the knowledge, tools, skills, and support they need to be academically, financially, and emotionally successful individuals and parents. In the program, participants are provided with information through prenatal classes, parenting classes, assistance with resources, and one-on-one support that can help them on their unique journeys through parenthood and adulthood.

Support Journey Program

Gifts to Journey Program help with the costs of running the program and purchasing specific items such as clothing and diapers for babies and toddlers.