Levi the Teen Dad Hits the Big Time

"I don't want kids," the teen wrote on his page, despite the Palin family's assertion that the teen couple was planning to marry. It also shed light on the challenges faced by teen fathers.

Johnston joins a small minority of his peers, including Casey Aldridge, the father of Jamie Lynn Spears' child who was only 18 when the infant was born. Aldridge, whose family did not return calls for comment, was engaged to be married to Jamie Lynn, but no date had been set.

Overall, studies show that only 1.7 percent of teenage males were fathers in 2002, a decline since the early 1990s.

The majority of teen mothers are impregnated by men age 20 or older. Teen fathers are often unequipped to deal with the responsibility thrust upon them, according to most social workers and therapists.

While there are many support services for teen mothers, teen fathers are often left out, despite studies showing that they are more prone to delinquency, reduced educational attainment, financial hardship and unstable marriage patterns.

One Teen Dad's Advice: 'Stick With It'

Michael Schieding, a sophomore at Endicott College, who was 17 when his son, Skyler, was born, had some sound advice for Johnston.

"Stick with it and learn patience all you can," he said, adding that he hopes that Johnston is willing to step up and take on the responsibility.

Schieding, who split up with Skyler's mother but remains the boy's legal guardian, says he felt a mix of excitement and shock when he first found out about the pregnancy.

"I thought, 'Oh no, in nine months, I won't be able to go out when I want to,'" he said.

Young Fathers: Teen Boys Having Babies

The biggest challenge for him has been staying in school while working to pay the bills. But he's thankful that Endicott has a program called "Keys to Degrees," that is geared to young parents and now includes 11 student-parents, including another teen father.

"It's a struggle to make ends meet," he said. "My parents are a big support. And I definitely see myself being more mature than the majority of my peers."

But he took on the responsibility and relishes the chance to watch his son grow up.

"Being young and a father is a cool thing because I'll be able to keep up with him," Schieding said.

Boys Will Be Boys and Girls Will Be Careful

Societal expectations for teenage boys rarely include fatherhood, says Ronald Warren, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative, who had his first son when he was 19.

"We certainly don't do very much to teach boys to be fathers, particularly when you teach girls to be mothers, handing them dolls, teaching them skills," he said. "Unfortunately, all too often, boys will be boys and girls will be careful."

Warren says that for him, fatherhood was unexpected -- he says his first reaction was "What am I going to do now?" -- but that it helped make him more responsible and he soon married the mother, who was then four months pregnant, in a quickie ceremony. They've been together now for 26 years.

Despite Johnston's MySpace sentiment about fatherhood, he can grow into fatherhood if he has a good role model, Warren says.

"My father must have been 18 and I grew up without him -- I missed that role model," he said. "Hopefully this young man will have someone he can look up to, people around him who can support him ... the biggest thing he needs to understand is kids have a hole in the soul in the shape of their dad and he's going to need to be there."

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