The fifth episode of MTV's 16 and Pregnant introduced us to Cleondra, a girl who is only in her late teens, but she might as well be in her early 30s for how she acts.
She was on her school's dance squad and a studious high school student who seemed like she was college-bound. And as the younger sister of a teen mom, Cleondra saw firsthand the way that motherhood can wreck dreams. But she did it anyway.
Cleondra and her boyfriend Mario, a 19-year-old, whose heart seems to be in the right place, decide to have their baby girl. And this is the part that blows my mind.
Cleondra is a mature, responsible girl. There is no doubt about that. In fact, once her daughter Kylee arrives, she handles it better than all the past moms on the show combined. But she is still not making the wisest decisions, even for someone who should know better.
MTV likes to say this show prevents teen pregnancy by showing the truth, but somehow it doesn't seem like the truth is all that persuasive. After all, how much more "truthful" does it get than Danielle last week and her former teenage mom? This week it was Cleondra babysitting her niece Zyra so that her sister -- a girl who wasn't ready to be a mom -- could do whatever she had to do.
Why are these messages not getting across?
As a mom now in her early 30s, I can watch these shows and admire their depictions of early motherhood. I may not have had drama with the father of my child or problems trying to finish high school, but some of the emotional stuff is universal to all moms. So when I see that and remember it again, it's sobering.
It makes ME not want to have a baby again. So why are teens who see it in real life actually falling pregnant?
The good news is, even though it makes no sense that Cleondra got pregnant, she is one of the few moms featured on the show who actually could have a future. She seems like a pretty responsible, together girl who has her priorities straight. She prioritized school, stayed open with her mother and even Mario's mother, kept a sense of humor, put her baby first, and even prioritized her little niece. All in all, she is a pretty good kid.
Even Mario, immature as he was (aren't they all?), seems like he is at least trying, which is really all any of us parents can do.
Are they perfect? No. But who is? At least baby Kylee has a better shot than the other babies on this show.
Did you think Cleondra seemed to have her head on straight?
Image via MTV