By now, it must be clear that I love television. Add a compelling real-life story, and I'm hooked. The latest thing that's got me on the line is MTV's "Sixteen and Pregnant." I'm interested in part because I had such wonderful and fascinating birth experiences. I'm also interested because I will have teenagers, and before I know it, according to the older parents I know. I'm learning a lot about how they think. Most of it is less than encouraging. But I'm still enthralled by the drama.
I heard once of a mother who decided that she would not allow her teenage daughter to have pain management drugs during labor; this was her version of birth control. At the time, I thought it was creative and brilliant. Certainly a horribly painful "natural" birth would remind this girl to use a condom next time, right? Now, having had two unmedicated deliveries, I can say that the pain is something of a "blocker" when it comes to making more babies. I loved my birth experiences, but man, it slows me down when I think about having more children. As I was going to the MTV website to look for follow-up info on the families (yes, I realize that this is ridiculous, but it's the summer and I like my fluffy guilty pleasures--let me be!), I started to wonder if teenage viewers would see the couples on the show as celebrities, complete with a sweet-smelling mini-me. Only one of the featured teens has offered her baby for adoption, so perhaps it seems easy to raise a child.
The show does highlight the very difficult issues of teen parenthood. Securing housing and employment, lack of social life, lack of sleep, broken relationships, stunted education, and an altered body are part of the story. But the constant day-to-day of parenthood, especially when you don't have resources, could easily be lost on a viewership not known for looking beyond on the nose on their faces. I'm constantly reminded in my own life that trying to raise a child and be the kind of parent I want to be would really suck if I had only sixteen years of life experience and wasn't even prepared to take care of myself. I hope that being "Sixteen and Pregnant" doesn't make it look like too much fun.
6 months ago