Sunday, June 28, 2009

16 and Pregnant

I have to state in the beginning that I only happened upon this show because I couldn't find an episode of Law & Order to watch and Derek was gone. I don't usually watch MTV. I actually was especially interested in watching this show specifically because it was an MTV production. I was curious to see what kind of a spin they'd put on a situation like this.
The episode I saw has a cheerleader from South Dakota (maybe North Dakota? Who can tell them apart anyway?) who announces to us that she's already like 16 weeks pregnant by the time she could contact MTV and they could get their cameras rolling. She's a very pretty, ditzy, size 2 teenager whose closest friend is a very homosexual male cheerleader. Her mom drives around in a Mercedes sports car and her dad apparently works out of town all the time.
What surprises did the show bring me? Well, actually the biggest surprise wasn't the girl who was pregnant, it was her mom. The girl was extremely immature about the situation and bemoans her loss of her size 2 figure. She hopes she'll quickly be able to return to her usual size after the baby makes her appearance. Her mom makes a halfhearted attempt to tell her daughter that this baby would be better cared for by adopted parents (this girl's boyfriend is no longer in the picture and he finds out from local gossip about the pregnancy). The girl, whose name is Farrah, decides she wants to keep the baby and her mom supports her decision to keep the baby; however, she doesn't exactly help out with her great mothering after that point.
When they go to the hospital for a tour and to find out about labor, her mom tells her that it's all disgusting and she doesn't want to hear it. Um great, but your daughter is the pregnant one whose trying to learn about the situation.
Farrah tries to get a car, so that she can get a job and sometime go to school. Obviously, she has no income, so she looks to get something she views as affordable like a Ford Focus. Her mom tells her that she hates Ford Focuses and that's a stupid idea and they will not be going to look for that car. Great advice coming from someone who drives around a Mercedes Benz huh? During the course of this fight, the mom even hits Farrah and tells her she's had enough of Farrah's unChristlike ways. I think there's something about a mote and a beam that goes along with this, but I can't remember right now...
After the baby comes, the mom makes sure that Farrah bears the bulk of the responsibility for this baby which I do think is a good decision on her part--perhaps one of the few good decisions I saw the mom make. Farrah finds it hard to have the energy to do much of anything after being up all night with a newborn and her friends don't really relate to her since they don't have babies. Shocking I know.
I guess I was hoping that the show would emphasize more just how hard it is to be an unwed, teenage mom. Really, in this episode this girl had to deal with her crazy mom, but her mom still allowed her to live at home & she strongly encouraged her to continue with school. It could've been a lot worse. I almost felt as though the show could have the opposite effect it maybe is shooting for. At least I hope that it's aiming to show that teenage pregnancy is a bad idea.
I think a more convincing sell for the show would be to show opposing sides of this situation. I know several people who have/are struggling to get pregnant--people who are good, solid people with careers and education and love--people who could offer great homes to children. To show these great, stable couples searching so hard to find a baby to adopt vs. this teenager who doesn't even want to be pregnant, who isn't ready to be pregnant, who isn't equipped to be a parent. Although maybe my idea is a poor one--maybe it would cause teenagers who watch MTV to want to get pregnant in order to help out these couples? I don't know.
I just think that the hardest, most demanding job that I've ever done is parenting. It can certainly be easy if you want to do a poor job. It's sad that people who don't even want babies can get pregnant while people who want children more than anything can't make it happen. I also felt sad for Farrah because it was apparent to me that she probably will never accomplish any of her educational goals and where will that leave her? What kind of a guy is she going to marry to father her children? What will she tell her daughter about her dad?
The whole situation is sad. Really sad.


Minharos said...

We were just talking about this show with some friends last night. We only have about 3 channels so I've never seen it, but they were saying that it does help shine some light on how unappealing the situation is. Hopefully the episode you saw was just an unfortunate one. Hopefully it wouldn't encourage anybody to choose to go down that path!

wackywilsons said...

I can't believe that lady put the bread back on the shelf! Nasty! Good for you for sticking up for all of our germs and trying to keep us safe.

I wonder what men can possibly talk about to feel a connection with one another. If it is not about shaving, etc...what could it be? Sports? lame!

I definitely agree about the teen pregnancy thing. I saw something similar last week and it is hard to see how easily kids get prego when there are others who can't. Once again, makes me appreciate being a crazy mama that much more.

Steph Bowen said...

I am so glad that you posted about this because I too happened upon it (not 'cause I love MTV) and was compelled to watch the whole episode because I was so distraught about the whole thing!!! My most distressing moment while watching was where Farrah says (while pregnant) that nothing will change and that she'll keep going out with her friends, etc. After the show was over, I was so grateful that a) I waited to have a baby b) that my husband is in the picture and so supportive c) that my mom was willing to help in the middle of the night so I could sleep. I also thought it was amazing that Farrah had no job and no money and yet EXPECTED to just go out and get a car. Even if she didn't have a baby I think there's a huge problem with that family!
I wish that in the end where she says she wouldn't change anything about what happened she would have mentioned something about adoption. Then again, how bad would it sound after having your baby to say that you wish you would have given it up for adoption.

jayne said...

I, too, have seen the show. Only I've watched 2 episodes and missed the "Farrah" one. The two I saw were actually very good at depicting the misery of motherhood when bestowed upon someone so young unexpectedly. One was where the couple lived together and tried to take care of the baby together. It showed the sleepless nights, the fights over money and how to allocate it, and even the strain on the relationship. The other one was about the couple moving in together but the girl was taking on all the responsibility and the father was doing as he'd always done as a teenager. I do wish at the end of every episode they would do some kind of service announcement made by these young moms stating how difficult it is, promoting abstinence (like that would ever happen), and also promoting adoption as a great option. The end of every episode kind of seems like they are saying "this is really hard, but I wouldn't change it". Boo. You should have changed it little girls. You should have had higher hopes.

Heather said...

I didn't see it, but it sounds like I would've been throwing things at the TV if I had.. so it's probably for the best.

All I can say is AMEN. That is a heartbreaker.

Lyndsey said...

Funny I have only seen the show one time and it was this episode! I was sooo frusterated the whole time! How about when Farrah asked about nursing and her mom said, oh that will give you saggy boobs. and the doctor said, 'well actually pregnancy does that" and they all looked shocked!!! What was with that mother???? I was dying. crazy crazy world that we live in

rachel said...

Isn't it sad? For the baby, for the mother, for the father of the baby, for the families of both parents. I was very close to three different girls who went through this in high school/jr high. Those little experiences taught me so much about what motherhood should be. I have never seen this show but I don't think there is enough camera hours to express what really goes on in these situations. I am so disappointed in Bristol Palin for becoming a public figure and feeding off of these circumstances. I think she almost glamourized the whole thing. It has definitely put this issue in the public eye and started a whole new kind of revoluation!! The only thing I can think to say is where is that baby in 2 yrs 5 yrs 10 yrs after the show is over. . . Look at Jon and Kate. Publicity doesn't last long but families are supposed to be eternal.

Jessica Martiele said...

Geezloueez, I'm offended. By the whole thing. By the idea that we as a community allow children to birth and keep and raise children in the first place. Not popular, I know, but I'm all for the idea of mandatory adoption for the children of children under 17. (Extenuating circumstances apply, of course.) Loathesome.

I love your idea, though! We talked about this at your place, those people who try and try and try and are soooooo prepared to be parents but something just isn't working...a show that juxtaposes THEM against some blithering teenage girl would be BRILLIANT. Did I say brilliant? Because what I meant was BRILLIANT, Audrey!