Did you hear about Maci and Ryan? Whatever is going to happen to Brooke? Mansfield is so close! Farrah really shouldn’t be going out all the time.
These are just some of the characters on MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” and its spin-off “Teen Mom.” Gone are the stars’ carefree teenage years. Instead of graduating high school, these teens are getting enrolled in Parenthood 101. But never fear, MTV is here and ready to offer them all the glamour of a being a reality TV star.
We instinctively find ourselves drawn to the ridiculous dynamics of the relationships and the predictable arguments people always seem to have with one another on reality shows like “Teen Mom.” But the reality TV boom has fueled a creation of new attention seekers.
Rather than just affecting the participants’ lives, they’re leaving behind a generation more susceptible to repeating a cycle that is more than just unplanned pregnancy. It affects entire families as they handle the financial burdens of new babies. It’s a controversial social issue that causes us to question acceptable ways to deal with the situation. Do we congratulate the mother for her lack of safe sex practices? Do we show no empathy and turn a blind eye to the situation? Do we throw her a baby shower?
Even though these shows portray the hardships of being teenage parents, these difficulties haven’t deterred teens from getting pregnant. Teenagers are getting pregnant at an alarming rate.
According to a 2006 report by the Guttmacher Institute, teen pregnancies are on the rise again. Texas ranks No. 5 in states with the highest teenage pregnancy rates following New Mexico, Mississippi, Arizona and Nevada.
We’ve essentially said it’s OK to bring someone else into the world before we even know how to survive on our own. These people say they want someone to need them, they want to dress up the baby and they want the cute and cuddly package. What they don’t realize is that this isn’t like a bad grade that you can bounce back from.
We’ve belittled the consequences of having a baby. We point to the past and say, “Look, they got married and had kids by the time they were our age, why can’t we?”
Why can’t we? Because gone are the days of the stereotypical breadwinners and the rarity of higher education. We should demand more of ourselves than mediocrity and scraping by.
These shows may be a dramatized version of the lives of teenage parents, but they still incorrectly project the idea that you can have it all. After having a kid, your life doesn’t go back to the state of normalcy you had before. Even those that choose to go with adoption still struggle with consequences of giving up their child. It doesn’t just go away. It is a part of your life forever. MTV, please grow up before these babies do.
Bailey McGowan is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Burkburnett.