MTV’s 16 and Pregnant is a new show that follows the life of a teen throughout her pregnancy. Each episode depicts a different teen’s trials of dealing with relationships, high school, parents, jobs and becoming a parent.
The show seems fairly accurate in documenting the problems that teen moms face. Many of the girls end up dropping out of high school or switching to an alternative high school because of the pressures they face from other students and struggling to make ends meet. They are oftentimes fighting an uphill battle to balance work, school and their new family. They are often unwilling to reorder their priorities now that they have a family. Their relationships usually end up paying the price.
One reason I find the show difficult to watch is the way some of these teen parents end up taking their frustrations out on each other and their baby. Children deserve all the love in the world, both from and between their parents. It in painful to watch some of these babies left crying, unattended on the couch, while their teen parents bicker, clearly distressing the infant. Many of the girls fail to take on full responsibility for their infant, pushing their obligation onto sympathetic grandparents or their boyfriend. One girl got upset because her mother would not get up during the night to take care of her infant. Another expected her boyfriend to drop everything and take care of the baby so she could participate on a dance team. It’s perfectly normal and acceptable for new mothers to need help, but problems arise when they refuse to accept that they cannot live life as though the child was never born. Babies require a lot of care and time; parents need to make room in their lives for their children, even if it means temporarily putting their goals and dreams on the back burner.
Other teens on the show make up for these shortcomings. They are surprisingly mature in the way they handle taking on new responsibilities and their new situation. One teen dad returned his new PlayStation so he could use the money to buy clothes and supplies for his new daughter. Another couple took turns going to work so they could provide for their family while still taking care of their newborn son. One couple on the verge of breaking up overcame huge obstacles in their relationship for the sake of providing a stable home for their child. These stories are heartwarming and definitely make the show worth watching.
Did you know:
- 3 in 10 girls in the U.S. will get pregnant at least once by age 20.
- 1 in 6 girls in the U.S. will be a teen mom.
- The U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the entire developed world.
- Babies born to teens are more likely to grow up poor, have health problems, be abused and neglected, fail in school and eventually become teen parents themselves.
- Less than half of teen moms graduate from high school.
- 8 out of 10 fathers don’t marry the teen mothers of their babies.
(Facts from stayteen.org)