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Though I make a point to avoid the drama of the show Teen Mom, I can't escape it. It has the same-old, same-old reality show formula: "Let's have a reality show that paints people in the worst light possible ... like a bad train wreck, people can't look away!"
But what gets me about this one in particular is that showing teens like Jenelle sends a message that all teen moms are terrible mothers. Jenelle, who had a brutal girl fight recently, who screams in her son Jace's ear while fighting with her mom on almost every episode, who steals, breaks the law, and is always up to some stupid antics with Kieffer, isn't like all teen moms. All of it just makes it harder for the teen moms out there who aren't overly-dramatic, trashy, and selfish human beings. There are teen moms out there who are great moms.
Now, I'm not saying we need a show that paints being a teen mom as some pretty picture of success and happiness, because we don't. There are enough dumb girls out there making pacts to get pregnant because they think babies are cute yet don't even know the name of all their anatomy and think breastfeeding is "icky."
But damnit, there are a lot of teen moms out there who bust their butts and pick up the responsibility that comes with being a mom and they RUN with it, and become absolutely amazing mothers. And because of shows like Teen Mom that just perpetuate the stereotype that teen moms are stupid kids, real teen moms, teen moms who raise their kids themselves and raise them well, suffer from these perceptions.
Ask any teen mom -- or even moms in their early 20s who look younger -- and they'll recount stories of older women, total strangers, who will come up and start treating them like they're a complete idiot in the middle of a grocery store or mall if their baby is fussing. Sometimes people will even ask if they're the babysitter or if the child is theirs, which is insulting and NONE of the stranger's business.
But guess what? I know quite a few women who got pregnant and had their first child in their teens, and they're often the most driven, amazing moms out there. Not to put down older mothers, because I know quite a few amazing moms who waited longer than society deems "normal" also. The main thing here is this -- stop acting as if age has anything to do with parenting ability. There are 17-year-old mothers out there who are a hell of a lot better than 30-year-old mothers, and some 40-year-old mothers who are way healthier than some 19-year-old moms!
I'm sick and tired of people making assumptions based on age -- yes, teens often have maturity working against them, but I know plenty of adults who seemed to have missed that boat as well. Age really doesn't have that much to do with maturity. EXPERIENCE does, and even more than that, personal responsibility and honesty. It doesn't make any difference if you're 17 or 37 if you think it's okay to leave your kids home alone while you run to the gas station for some more beer. And yet, the younger mom would be branded and called "an example of teen parenting." Stop it. Teen moms are not different. The show Teen Mom is an EXCEPTION, not the norm, and it just makes it harder for real teen moms, the ones who don't have cameras rolling, the ones who are great moms making it work.
It hurts to be thought of as a crappy parent just because you're not X years old. Age is irrelevant.
Do you think all teen moms are terrible moms?
Image via Augie Schwer/Flickr