(Art by Megan)
This week! Karley, a high school senior from Toole, Utah. Watch it here.
Megan: So the first thing that we learn in this episode is that they got married when they found out she was pregnant!
Chanel: Every time that happens on this show, I worry.
M: Karley’s mom says: “I’m scared. It’s going to be so hard for you.” I wonder if there are any support or resources for parents of teen parents? Karley’s mom seems like she is very sweet and supportive but is just sad and doesn’t know what to say.
C: I don’t know anything about parenting, but I feel like it’s not the most productive thing to tell your kid you’re disappointed in them. The opposite, actually. It seems totally unproductive.
M: Unrelated: Utah is beautiful.
C: It is! Plus, now I know how to pronounce “Toole.” (It’s not “Tooley.”)
It must be crazy frustrating to think that you’re going to bust out of your parents’ house when you turn 18 and then realize you actually have to be there for way longer because little people are depending on you.
M: Mom is so worried! She is doing enough worrying for all three of them.
C: ABSOLUTELY NOT WE ARE NOT HAVING A “CRIPPLE PARTY”. THAT IS NOT A THING. SHUT IT DOWN.
M: Wait what? Is it a real cripple party? I’m confused.
C: No one in this situation has a physical disability.
M: That’s messed up.
C: At the baby shower Kaley’s husband Tony says: “There’s not going to be one thing that says, “I love Dad.” She replies: “Probably not.” #babyshowerpartyfoul
Wow, Karley, way to parent your husband. “I’m sorry that you feel that way.”
M: Yeah, they are in an impossible situation and no one is happy. But they kind of just both have to deal with it because there aren’t any other options. It sucks that he can’t quite figure that out.
This kid was born 5 minutes ago and they have already put a bow on her.
C: QUICK! GENDER HER!
M: Thank goodness. Usually when we’re watching this and the baby comes out I am just confused.
C: People who are probably psyched not to be pregnant anymore: Karley
M: Having twins seems like the worst. (No offense to my lovely friends who are twins.)
C: Can we talk about the word “help” in this context? Bro is not HELPING. He’s PARENTING.
M: Yeah, it’s another example of how parenting is not considered work. She says, “even though he’s working, he helps with the babies at night.” That’s great, but let’s not forget that you worked all day too!
C: Oh, maybe not. Apparently he’s not parenting, he’s buying a truck. Tony, we are about half way through the episode. Please start sucking less.
M: I almost laughed out loud when he said it seated three people. That’s not even enough for her and both babies! There’s also a weird similarity between him wanting to buy a truck and the guy last week wanting to buy a dog. What is it that makes them want to “do something for themselves”? Is it the focus of attention on the baby(ies) instead of the partner?
C: It’s like a push present for the dude? Which…no.
M: Grrrl is telling it like it is: “Sure you make the money, but it’s both of our money. And I don’t appreciate you throwing it in my face all the time. I’m not in a position where I can go out and work right now. You can go out and do things for yourself and I can’t.” She may have been the only one who got married before she had the babies this season, but she is bringing the feminist discourse here and trying to get him to consider what being in a partnership means and valuing her participation in it.
C: “You disrespected the person who takes care of your children.” Burn.
I’m kind of hoping that Tony knows what a scumbag he’s being and that’s why he’s so mad? Like, it’s all him being angry at himself?
M: That’s optimistic of you.
C: I’m trying. This dude and his best friend The Truck are on my last nerve.
M: I’m also just trying to imagine what having your mom overhear your intimate fights with your partner is like. And having to mediate your partner and your mom.
C: Ugh. It’s crazy how you do this thing, have kids, that is supposed to make you an “adult” (in some absurd, bullshit version of the word), but it actually puts you in a situation where you’re more dependent than ever.
M: Yeah, and it puts mom in a position of having to let her not-yet-fully-grown daughter live as an adult and make adult decisions even though she is still a teenager. She is still holding onto her parental role. It’s hard to figure out what the new roles are.
C: “I don’t blame anyone else but myself, it really is my own fault.” It’s not TOTALLY your own fault, dude. There was a penis involved. An unsheathed penis. (Sorry, readers. Kind of.)
Can we talk about the magical thinking re: not using birth control? It’s not only teenagers who think this.
M: It’s really not! I’ve had a lot of patients seeking abortion who have also subscribed to this line of thinking.
C: It feels a lot to me like my logic as a pedestrian in New York- you go enough time making sketchy street crossing decisions w/o getting hit by a car, and then you think, “I’m not ever going to get hit by a car!” Until you do. Except getting hit by a car = getting pregnant.
M: Yeah, it’s definitely the “this can never happen to me!” Except I think with pregnancy a lot of it is also “this can never happen to me because I’m not one of those girls”.
C: Talk about where you think that comes from, the “one of those girls” idea.
M: I think it comes up a lot working with folks obtaining abortions, but it’s probably similar for some teen parents: that they can’t entertain that outcome because it’s so stigmatized. Because they’re taught that “good” people aren’t the ones who get pregnant and drop out of high school, or the ones who get pregnant and have abortions. And they know that they are a “good” person, so it doesn’t seem as likely.
C: I was thinking that the stigma of being a teen parent is different from the stigma re: abortion. Like, you messed up, but at least you’re not a selfish baby killer.
M: That’s true to some extent, but teen parenting is public. It’s out there all the time. You can hide your abortion, but you can’t hide being a teen mom. And everyone knows.
C: Katie Yeager said something during Teen Mom 3 that sticks with me: “You’re kind of shy about being a parent to your child in public..If you see an older couple out with their kid and their kid is misbehaving, you just think, ‘Oh, that’s a bad kid. If you see a young parent with their kid out in public, it’s ‘she’s a horrible mom.’ It’s always your fault. It’s ‘Well, this wouldn’t happen if she were older.’”
M: That’s how stigma works. You become reduced to the label that people give you instead of an individual.
C: That was one of the reasons we wanted to do this recapping in the first place- to complicate teen parenting rather than letting these folks be reduced to labels.
M: Absolutely. Let’s end with wishing love to Karley and babies! We can’t wait until you take your first gender studies class – you are going to be a boss.