Teen Mom 2
by Matthew Brooks
Today my heart broke.
Somewhere In the background noise that a television here in my workplace creates, my curiosity was piqued when I heard the following statement come through loudly and clearly: “Mom, come bail me out right now!”
Today’s television programming apparently offers something for everyone. The “reality” series on MTV known as Teen Mom 2 offers something for….who, exactly? The starlet who uttered these words is Jenelle, a teen from North Carolina who is the unwed mother of Jace.
Admittedly, the 7 minutes of my night that I spent consciously observing this show are a rather small sampling of their offering, but I feel safe in saying that I have seen all I need to see in order to form my opinion.
I’m saddened by what followed. Watching Jenelle, who had been violated on her conditions of release by her probation office for failing a drug test had been booked into jail. The line that drew my attention was overheard as she called on her mother from jail and asked – no, she demanded – that her mother bail her out immediately. What followed was a rather heated conversation between the two, ending Jenelle remaining in custody for the night. Her mother refused to post bail for her wayward daughter.
I will be the first to tell you that I know nothing of the back story involved in this mess. And, true to entertainment form, it can be safely assumed that the producers of the show have edited it heavily in order to show content sure to cater to their intended audience. Who is that audience? I have no idea.
As the show progresses, Jenelle has a conversation with her attorney and proceeds to tell him that she would rather spend years on probation (I’m still not clear what the original charge was, nor do I care to find out) rather than spend 14 days in jail. Her reasoning behind not going into lockup and paying her dues? Kesha. A Kesha concert that she would certainly miss by spending time in jail.
Being the fireball of energy that she is, she returns home after an indeterminate period of time and proceeds to unleash her anger and wrath upon her mother. Her mother, who has custody of Jenelle’s son, Jace, sits back and lets her daughter’s tirade roll forth.
Up to this point I had observed, paying only limited attention to what was taking place on the television set. The camera then did something that immediately caught my full and undivided attention: it focused in on little Jace. Little Jace whose mother never once speaks to him, acknowledges his presence and appears to have abandoned to his grandmother’s care.
Jace carried on with his day as if this were standard fare in his life. He toddled around, playing with his toys and never looked twice at his mother and grandmother who were engaged in epic verbal combat, blaming one another for Jenelle’s failures as a daughter, mother, student, inmate, and who knows what else.
It was then I noticed the first tear beginning to form in the corner of my eye. Where are we as a society when we can have these shameless outbursts of irresponsibility in front of our children, all the while being recorded for later transmissions for an electronic viewing audience’s later entertainment?
I’m sure the failures of mother and daughter alike are myriad. What the cameras record and later the producers edit together may not depict an accurate moment in the life of this teen mom, but the end result sure does speak volumes about what we the American public give a pass to.
What we call good is so often nothing more than an expression of pure evil. What is commonly referred to as evil and is shunned is exactly the opposite: it is true goodness.
Where is the shame for acting like this in front of your child? Where is the humility and humbled spirit of a person whose deeds have been found out and disciplined? Where is the somber expression of remorse and asking of forgiveness of your child? These things were all absent from what was on full display in front of the whole world. What we saw irrationality, blame, hubris and a shear inability to take any measure of responsibility for one’s own actions.
The same way that my failures as a man, husband, father, son, brother and employee are likely to be innumerable throughout the course of my life, so too are the failures of us all. What should separate us from acting like children is the ability to accept that we will make mistakes and that we will all stumble in life. When we do, we must have the grace to accept these lessons and learn from them, applying what we learned later on.
I will likely never tune in to view any other part of this television series. I do not know what will happen to Jenelle or to her son, Jace. I can only hope that she learns where true acceptance and love comes from and begins to grow and mature as a lady and as a mother. Her son deserves to have a mother who sets for him an example that is exemplary. Not a mother who demonstrates volatility, irresponsibility, and anger whenever things don’t go according to her ill-conceived plans.
Perhaps no more meaningful words can be found to describe what needs to happen in Janelle’s life as well as in the lives of countless millions throughout the world, myself included, than these:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 1 Corinthians 13:11
Today’s act of manliness: Stop acting like a child