16 and Pregnant: A Girl's Problem?
June 15, 2011
On 16 and Pregnant, we often see a maturity lag between the teen mothers and teen fathers featured on the show. Perhaps less hit by reality than the girls, the boys quickly become absent from the daily caretaking of their newborn babies. Many times both parents come from fatherless homes, and though the boys pledge to be different from their own fathers, they fall into the same cycle.
This week's episode featured 15-year-old Taylor and 16-year-old Nathan, two teens still too young to drive or hold steady jobs. Taylor's mother strongly pushes her to consider adoption, but the pair is confident they can provide for baby Aubri. Following the birth of the baby girl, Nathan quickly falls behind on his promise to help out and continues to rely on his mother and Taylor's to provide full financial support. Though Taylor is unhappy about it, the couple decides she should stay at home to watch the baby and take high school classes online, while Nathan continues to attend regular school.
Most of the fights between the couple center around who has the hardest job. Taylor hates that she never leaves the house and is stuck providing all the childcare. Nathan is frustrated by mounting pressure to provide for his family while also being an attentive father. Even though he swore to be a big part of his child's life, Taylor fears that she will be forced to push Nathan out of Aubri's life if he doesn't step up to his responsibilities.
Taylor is so busy taking care of the baby full-time that she doesn't have the energy or will to complete her online course load. She's frustrated that Nathan doesn't seem to understand how much work it is to care for a newborn. She tells him that without the baby, they might still be lovesick teenagers in la-la land, but they no longer have that luxury.
Having a baby as a teen means sacrificing normal high school and college moments. Of the 1 in 6 teen girls who become mothers before age 20, only about half of them will graduate from high school (PDF), and even fewer will be able to earn a college degree. Protecting both girls and boys against unplanned pregnancy allows them a better future.
Kate Meroski is an intern for The National Campaign's Entertainment Media and Audience Strategy department. Kate is a senior at George Washington University, studying journalism and sociology. She loves theater and cooking, and she eats mashed potatoes every single day.