A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this reality series about teen pregnancy highlights the difficulties associated with being pregnant and becoming a young mother. Discussions about sex include metaphors like "doing the hokey pokey" and stronger references that are bleeped out (salty language beyond words like "hell" and "damn" is also bleeped). While the series doesn't really offer any new information on the subject of teen pregnancy -- at times focusing more on relationship drama than issue-related content -- it can potentially serve as a starting point for parents to talk to teens about sex and its consequences.
What's the story?
16 AND PREGNANT follows six high school girls as they cope with the challenges of being pregnant and becoming parents. Each episode follows one girl as she approaches her due date, delivers, and faces her new life. Throughout the process, each young mom-to-be candidly discusses her choice to have the baby, how she feels about being pregnant, and how she's handling the transition from carefree teenager to "mature" parent. Each girl's partner, friends, and family are also along for the ride, weighing in as they adjust to her -- and their -- new role.
Is it any good?
The show clearly underscores the tremendous impact of getting pregnant and having. But other than showing the expected pitfalls that come with having a child at such a young age, it isn't very enlightening. It also seems to intentionally focus on the problems between the young mothers and their babies' fathers, their friends, and their parents, creating moments that are more voyueristically melodramatic than informative. As a result, the realities of being pregnant and having a child at such a young age almost become secondary as the young moms try to work out their relationship issues.
While the show is relatively non-judgmental, its storytelling style makes it hard to really understand what exactly viewers are supposed to feel after watching. Still, thanks to the controversy surrounding teen pregnancy -- as well as young people's natural curiosity about the topic -- it's very likely that teens will want to watch. 16 and Pregnant may not be the best viewing choice on the subject, but the good news is that it still has the potential to generate constructive conversations about some of the choices teens are making about sex, relationships, and dealing with the consequences of their actions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the messages that the media sends about sex and sexual behavior. How do TV shows and movies tend to portray pregnant and/or sexually active teens? Are these portrayals realistic? What pressures do teens face when it comes to when it comes to having sex? Aside from pregnancy, what are some of the other consequences that teens face when they choose to engage in sexual activity? How about when they choose not to?