Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Influence of Media on Teen Motherhood

 Photo Source:

So I have been thinking…my last posts have dealt mainly with the expectations and experiences of adult mothers. What about the teen mothers in America? Many adults attribute recent teen pregnancies to the popularity of the MTV television series: 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2

I began to question the correlation of the shows and the American teen mother rates, and after some research, found some very interesting statistics.
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According to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the most common critiques found regarding the effect of the above MTV programs on teen motherhood are that the programs “glamorize” motherhood and encourage young girls to get pregnant due to hopes of landing a spot on the show. However, a 2010 public opinion poll of over 1000 teens conducted by Social Science Research Solutions (, concluded that shows about teenage motherhood and pregnancy actually:
  • “Help teens better understand the challenges of pregnancy and parenting” 82% Agree
  • “[Make teens] think more about [their] own risk of getting pregnant/causing a pregnancy and how to avoid it”  80% Agree Strongly/Somewhat 
  • "Stories and events in TV shows and other media about sex, love, and relationships can be a good way to start conversations with adults about these topics.” 76% Agree Strongly/Somewhat
  • How often would you say you and your parents have talked about sex, love, and relationships because of something you saw in popular media (like television shows)? 47% Often/Sometimes
Video Source:  16 & Pregnant  YouTube 

When considering this data, one is able to see several positive effects the MTV programs 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, and Teen Mom 2 have had on the prevention of teenage motherhood through the increased of awareness of the challenges of teen pregnancy and use of birth control. The programs have acted as a way to begin and increase conversations between parents and their teens  regarding sex, pregnancy and utilization of birth control. Shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom offer an arguably accurate view of the trials and tribulations faced by American teen mothers. 

Below is an overview of other teen motherhood media featured events.

Photo Source:  OK! Magazine

Jamie Lynn Spears was a popular Nickelodeon star headlining the show Zoey 101.  She was 16 when she and her newborn were profiled on the cover of OK! Magazine. 

Click below to view a segment from Spears' show Zoey 101.

Video Source:  Zoey 101 "Boys vs. Girls" clip.

 Photo Source: 
Juno is a critically acclaimed film that focused on an independent teen and her unplanned pregnancy.  Watch the official film trailer by clicking HERE.

Photo Source:  ABC Family


The Secret Life of the American Teenager is telecast by ABC Family.  The story line focuses on Amy, an unwed teen mom and her family and friends.  Amy loses her virginity at summer band camp and soon learns that she is pregnant.  The series has just completed its' fifth year season. Watch the original series trailer from 2008 below.  

Video Source:  The Secret Life of the American Teenager trailer 

While many parents continue to worry about the media influencing  young teens in terms of glamorizing pregnancy and motherhood, teen pregnancy rates have fallen dramatically. According to, American, teen pregnancy rates have been “declining rapidly”. The title of the article “U.S. Teen Pregnancy Rates at an All-Time Low Across All Ethnicities” by Michelle Castillo reports these findings. America has experienced a record 44% decrease in the number of teen pregnancies from 1991 to 2010. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) accredit this drop to “effective use [of] prevention messages” (Casillo, 2012). For more details regarding the nation-wide decline of diverse ethnic teens experiencing motherhood, check out the complete article by clicking HERE.

Mommy Blogs...A Lifeline for Mothers

Photo Source:  Google Images

Behold the power of the “Mommy Blog”! Mommy Blogs offer mothers across America an opportunity to vent, share, and connect on the stresses and joys of motherhood. This form of uncensored, no holds, real life motherly opinions and experiences reiterate the message that mothers are not alone in the issues and societal expectations they face.

Mommy Blogger” Lizbeth Finn-Arnold, discusses the personal, positive impact of blogging on her life as a woman and as a mother in the "Out of the Woods" passage she contributed to the book, Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined. Blogging offered Finn-Arnold a new outlet and perspective on the role of mothering. With limited prior knowledge to the options and various mothering styles, Finn-Arnold found blogs created by other mothers to offer new perspectives on mothering, helpful recommendations, and comfort in knowing she was not alone in her experiences. Through “Mommy Blogs” and by becoming a "mommy blogger", Finn-Arnold was able to feel a new-found sense of control, release, and calm as she typed advice and comments to mothers with similar frustrations and personal identity issues of motherhood. Preview the book, Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined by clicking HERE Visit Finn-Arnold's blog, Mom and Pop Culture- Exploring Motherhood, Writing, Film making, and Life in General by clicking HERE

The writings of "mommy blogs" offer women a chance to feel part of a positive and collective group interested in the betterment of the lives of their children and in their quality of life as mothers. "Mommy Blogs" are an excellent resource for women who are expecting their first child and those raising their third.

    Photo Credit: Tom & Katrien/Flickr.

In the November 2011 Maternal and Child Care Journal, Brandon T. McDaniel, a graduate student from Penn State's human development and family studies program published the findings of his study of 157 new mothers and their media use.  He found that over 60% of the group wrote their own blogs and about three/fourths of the group reported reading online blogs.  On average the entire group spent three hours on their home computers each day with much of this time online.  The mothers reported a greater connection with others outside the home and a feeling of well being.  Brandon said" It looks like blogging might be helping these women as they transition into motherhood because they may begin to feel more connected to their extended family and friends, which leads them to feel more supported."

Read McDaniel's complete study entitled New Mothers and Media Use:  Associations Between Blogging, Networking and Maternal Well Being online by clicking HERE.  

Mommy Blog Round-Up

Photo Source:  Google Images

Mommy blogs- specific to any interest/issue/situation- may be found online.  Following is just a small sampling of current online blogs:

Birth mother who regrets giving up child for adoption.
Young, African American mother of five who works from home
Single mother of four teens (three of which are autistic)

Step mom
Holistic/Earth mother of a toddler
Feminist mothering
Religious mother of multiples
Home school mom of five
Lesbian mothering in Texas

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Endless Search for Child Care

In American society, the value and expectations of child caregivers varies among males and females. While caregivers exist in all ages, races, sexes, and socio-economic forms, overlying generalizations and patterns subsist. For example, in America, men are typically more resistant to participating in the childcare process and women are expected to assume the role of chief caregiver and also the arranger of care. Stereotypes and assumptions often fuel the perceptions surrounding different caregivers and in turn affect the rights and legislation pertaining to caregivers.
Photo Source:  Google Images- Daycare Center

In The Price of Motherhood, author Ann Crittenden discusses the labors of childcare and the American economy. Crittenden goes in great depth discussing the views and ideals which have potentially played a role in the de-valuing of childcare givers and association of childcare as a “women’s issue”—especially in terms of men. In Chapter 4 of her book, Crittenden argues that nothing in American society, “counts unless it is bought or sold (“The Truly Invisible Hand, pg.66).” This in turn is limiting and lessening the value of childcare within politics and the economic sphere. Preview and read more from Crittenden's book, The Price of Motherhood at this link.

In recent years, research studies show that the quality of a child’s care received during the first years of life has a lasting impact on child development and behavior. In the article “Study Finds the Effects of Low-Quality Child Care Last into Adolescence” Journalist Rob Stein, with the Washington Post, reports:

    “The federally funded study, which has been tracking more than 1,300 children since 1991, found that obedience and academic problems among those who received low-quality care in their first 4 1/2 years of life persisted through their 15th birthdays,suggesting the potential for lifelong difficulties (Stein, 2010).”  This study reiterates
 the need and importance of positive and healthy childcare from an early age.  Read more from Stein's article by clicking HERE.

National Public Radio's All Things Considered program recently featured a segment called "The Challenges of Child Care: Emotional Decisions and a Constant Juggling Act."  Listen to the radio program by clicking HERE.  The program included the comments of 7 parents, caregivers and a grandmother- each discussing their personal challenges and frustrations attempting to locate dependable, affordable, safe and nurturing care for their children.

Photo Source:  Emily Bogle/NPR

Currently, American politics and economics are driven primarily by males. Due to the lack of female representation within government and big business corporations, legislation and rights surrounding female rights, typical female jobs, and female associated legislation suffer. Until the men of a patriarchal society, such as the United States, increase the awareness, importance, and worth of women’s issues and associated activities—such as childcare—the people and the related legislation will remain minuscule in value.