With Teen mom, episode 10, airing tonight, I wanted to briefly explore Maci’s character on Teen mom. I read magazine articles about her, describing her as the “perfect teen mom” or as a young woman “beyond her years”. I’ve seen her on interviews, where the interviewer has praised her “mothering” abilities. Matter of fact when people are talking about Maci, they are often talking about her in a positive way. I’ve never heard anyone call Maci a “horrible” parent, which is the way in which people often describe Amber and Farrah. And from the “edited” scenes that we do see of Maci and Bentley, it DOES seem as though she is a good mom, that she has a great head on her shoulders, and an awesome determination to succeed as a parent and as a young woman. But–and yes there is a but–I wonder if Maci’s character is really an accurate portrayal of the “average” teen mom.
When we look at her home situation, we notice that her parents are still married, they live in a nice sized house, in a good community, her dad appears to have a good job and she has an awesome relationship with her parents. Her parents have supported her decisions, throughout the series, no matter if they agree or disagree. And her friends–well she has many friends, and all of them are often there helping her with Bentley. But when I’m watching her in this nice home, with this nice support system, and with a great group of friends, I often ask myself, “How common is this for teen moms?”. When I was in high school the teen moms often lost their friends(after having the baby), often fell behind on coursework, and while few DID have support systems, they certainly weren’t as strong or as solid as Maci’s. Matter of fact, if you notice amongst all of the girls on the show, Maci is truly the ONLY character with that strong support system. Farrah lives in a nice neighborhood and a nice home, but it’s clear that her support system is faulty(if we can even describe it that way), it’s also clear that since her debut on 16 and pregnant, that she’s lost many of her friends. Matter of fact Farrah is doing a lot on her own, and you can tell how much she’s changed this season, as a result of this. Amber and Catelynn come from hugely dysfunctional families, they lack support systems, and they don’t come from that nice upper middle class background.
Now these are the “more” surface issues I’ve noticed when I’ve compared Maci to other Teen mom’s. There are deeper issues at bay–which I hope to address before the season ends-but these surface issues present an issue to me. When people watch this show, root for Maci, and deem her the “poster teen mom” are we overlooking the fact that her background, her support system, and the opportunity she has(coming from her background) has probably contributed significantly to the way she is as a mother? If we placed Amber, Farrah, or Catelynn in Maci’s environment and the roles were reversed, would people still be so quick to point Maci out as the best mom on the show?
Furthermore, it’s obvious that Maci is an exception. So I wonder how many teen’s watch her on the show, and think to themselves “If I become a teen mom, I’ll be like Maci.” Because it isn’t so simple, or so black and white. And I’d hate for teenagers, who for some reason desire a pregnancy, to think that Maci is the “average” or “normal” GOOD teen mom. I’d venture to say there are MORE good teen mom’s that are NOT like Maci, than those that are. And for that matter, I’d say more teen mom’s are in situations and circumstances closer to some of the other girls, than to Maci. While Maci struggles with relationships, and college decisions–which is very much a normal thing for most young woman(even those that aren’t pregnant) I’d say that those “issues” are probably the only common thread that I see between her and other teen mom’s. So, while we paint her as the “perfect teen mom” and as the mom that the “other” mom’s should strive to be like, let’s remember that Maci is an exception, comes from a wonderful background, and most likely doesn’t portray (or does she) the reality that most Teen mom’s face.
Hope you enjoy tonight’s episode!