The press has been watching the MTV reality TV shows about teen mothers with a magnifying glass from the very beginning and so have I. Whether it be the original show ‘16 and Pregnant’, or one of the two spin off shows ‘Teen Mom’ and ‘Teen Mom 2’ the public has a seemingly never-ending appetite to watch these young girls thrust into adulthood. Who knows what makes these shows compelling. Likely it has something to do with the natural attraction we as human beings have toward drama. Personally, I am drawn to the show because I am one of the original “teen moms.”
Okay, so I never had my own TV show, but I am 34 years old and I am the mother of a 16 year old daughter. Like many girls in my high school I got pregnant before I graduated when I was just 17 years old and I raised her as a single mom. Where was my reality TV series? Trust me, my story would have made for compelling TV. My daughter’s father and I had way more drama than Macy and Ryan from ‘Teen Mom’, or Adam and Chelsea from ‘Teen Mom 2’. Plus, like Kaitlynn from ‘Teen Mom 2’, I too had little help from my family in my daughter’s early years.
When I really think about it I can’t imagine putting myself out there for public scrutiny at such a young age. The girls on this show are treated like celebrities in many ways. They appear in tabloids and do interviews and press. Being a mother at such a young age was hard enough, I can’t imagine what it would have been like if everyone was outwardly judging me throughout the process. Anyone who has been a teen mom knows that you get enough dirty, disapproving looks and harsh comments being an average non-famous person.
I think it is safe to assume that when these young girls are making the decision to put themselves out there for this kind of judgement the money is a huge factor. Various sources including The Huffington Post, report that they make about $60,000 per season for being on one of the ‘Teen Mom’ shows. Since the stars of ‘16 and Pregnant’ only do one episode the reported figures are much less, about $5,000. None-the-less, coming from someone that was a “teen mom” that is an attractive sum of money. After all, young parents worry about more than just diapers and formula; many of them are trying to go to college too.
If this show was around when I was a teenager would watching it have helped me? Personally, I think it would have given me a better idea of what I was in for and maybe I would have been more careful. Despite what critics say, seeing this show is a new form of birth control in my opinion. Week in and week out we see screaming babies, fighting couples and despite the money they suffer financial hardships. So unless heartbreak and struggle are appealing I can’t see how this show glamorizes teen parenthood at all. That being said, I don’t regret my decision to be a “teen mom” at all because my daughter is irreplaceable and largely helped mold me into the woman I am today.