Methods: The processes and outcomes of one teen parent mentoring program were studied using phenomenological inquiry methods. Intensive interviews with a purposive sample of 8 Latina teen parent mentors and 8 Latina teen parent mentee participants took place at three points in time: at program start, and at 8 and 24 weeks post program start. Interviews took place in participants' first language (Spanish) and were later transcribed, translated to English and back-translated. Data from these interviews were then qualitatively analyzed, using Spradley's (1979) ethnoscientific approach, to identify those processes that were deemed critical to the reported success of program participants regarding healthy parenting practices, other benefits, and the meaning of the experience to both groups.
Results: Benefits to teen parents who were involved in the teen parenting mentoring program were many, some unique to and some generalized across the two groups studied. First-time Latina teen mother mentees and the older Latina teen parent peer mentors reported improvement in their current parenting practices, believed their future capacities to parent were enhanced and found social support to be a primary benefit of the mentoring program. The mentors reported an increase in both their interpersonal relationship skills and in the confidence and comfort they took in their parenting practices. Mentees considered peer modeling and acceptance the most significant beneficial aspects of the mentoring program. Additionally, while both groups were able to identify numerous other program components that they believed related to their improved parenting, teen mentees isolated the mentoring relationship itself as the most robust active ingredient.
Conclusions and Implications: Findings from this study may be used to better contextualize and target interventions, specifically mentoring, that will enhance, support and improve the capacity of young parents to provide a nurturing and appropriate environment for their children both now and in the future. One of the unintended program benefits, better relationship skill, increases the likelihood of engaging in more positive future social relationships, believed to be a protective factor for parent-child relationships across the lifespan. Culturally relevant interventions for Latina parents may also be better informed from these qualitative findings.