Having worked with teens and young adults for years, I watch the shows 16 And Pregnant and Teen Mom with a different set of eyes than most viewers. I'm often crying by the end of each episode, feeling powerless as I witness these amazing young women deal with such deep emotional issues that become, for most viewers, the source of personal entertainment.
I can see clearly that the underlying intention of both shows is to demystify the stories of struggle that teen moms go through, with hopes of inspiring those on the path towards teen-motherhood to steer away from. But while trying to expose challenges and inspire others, many of the moms have become caught up in the TV spin and celebritydom of it all. These are girls who were hardly able to scrape up the skills to become mothers, and now the public is watching them tumble as they attempt to gather skills to deal with the spotlight and motherhood. It's beyond upsetting.
Instead of lending supportive words, most people comment negatively, demolishing them in the press and online. The comments I've read about Amber Portwood, the young mother from both 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom who just checked into rehab yesterday, June 28th, after a suicide attempt and 72-hour hold in the hospital to ensure her safety, have been sick and tasteless to say the least. People have told her to "just die" and have suggested she should never be able to see her daughter again.
The very same viewership who shot Amber to fame, is who pointed a finger at her as she fell. This is a young mother who needs help, not hate. She clearly suffers from anger and co-dependence issues, an unhealthy relationship with food, and an inability to manage the fame she's been given. She deserves so much better than what we're giving her.
These shows have both seemingly graced a very slippery slope of making other young and already impressionable girls want to become teen moms just for the celebrity of it all. But regardless of that argument, when it comes down to it, these are real 15, 16, 17-year old girls whose life skills are few and far between. They're emotionally struggling to figure out how the hell to keep it together and it saddens me that they've become, to many, an amusing spectacle.
A suicide attempt is a cry for help, so I refuse to respond to what Portwood has been through with anything but love and support. So Amber, this is my message to you, I hope it finds you one day...
There are people who see through the bullsh*t and editing and can tell that you are a kind, loyal, loving, creative, and emotionally burdened young woman who deserves support and rehabilitation. I'm one of those people.
You are a beautiful person with so much inside -- so many feelings and so much intensity. Your fire, though at times is what's gotten you in trouble, is also what makes you special and unique. Please take this opportunity -- in rehab, in therapy -- to tune out the negative and highlight the positive, working to fall in love with yourself and become the best individual and mother you can be.
I truly wish the best for you and I know, from watching you, that you have it in you to move past this and become your best self. This is your time.
If there is ever anything I can do to support you, I would be honored to help. Please take care of you.