ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – A mother knows best — and the amount of education she attains can apparently predict her children’s success in reading and math. Researchers say the success is even greater if she had her child later in life, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Sandra Tang, a U-M psychology research fellow and the study’s lead author, said children of mothers 19 and older usually enter kindergarten with higher levels of achievement. These kids continue to excel in math and reading at higher levels through eighth grade when compared to children of mothers 18 and younger.

“These results provide compelling evidence that having a child during adolescence has enduring negative consequences for the achievement of the next generation,” Tang said in a statement.

The negative consequences of teen mothers not only affect the child born when the mother was an adolescent, Tang said, but they affect the mother’s subsequent children as well.
Pamela Davis-Kean, associate professor of psychology and a research associate professor at the Institute for Social Research and Center for Human Growth and Development, said the findings present good news and bad news.

The good news is that the children of teen mothers who continue their education after having children do better academically than children of teen moms who did not continue, she said.

“However, these children—and other children born to the mother when she wasn’t an adolescent—never catch up in achievement across time to children whose mothers had them after completing their education,” Davis-Kean said. “This group continues to carry a risk for lower achievement.”


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