Thursday, June 16, 2011

How Can We Help the "Teen Mom"

This week “Teen Mom” Amber Portwood made the news for an alleged suicide attempt, and I must say my heart breaks for her. Obviously I do not know Amber and, to be quite honest, I’ve only watched one episode of “Teen Mom.” But, while she hurts, the nation is gawking at the situation and rolling their eyes at the ongoing drama in this young woman’s life.

Because of my work with Pam Stenzel and crisis pregnancy center ministry, I am struck by the recent news. Clearly Amber has made sinful choices. (But who hasn’t?) Her decision to have sex outside of marriage hurt her chances to have a successful relationship and the pregnancy created new hills for her to climb. I don’t care how cool someone might think it is to be on “16 and Pregnant” and become a quasi-celebrity. The fact of the matter is that Amber dropped out of school to try and raise her baby, bringing immediate academic success to a crashing halt. Beyond that, her life is forever connected to a man she thought she “loved” as a teenager. If she marries anyone else, she will not be able to escape Gary -the guy from her youth. Her past choices will follow her.

From all that I’ve noticed in the tabloids while waiting in line to purchase my groceries, Amber and Gary have tried to make their relationship work. Sadly, their on again/off again status and tumultuous twists and turns with the law and child custody further muddy the waters.

While I KNOW Amber’s choices have brought her to this place and there are always consequences to walking outside of God’s design, we have a responsibility in this too.

“Teen Mom” focuses on the struggles teen moms face. Millions of viewers tune in to watch kids struggle to raise kids hoping for good gossip the next day. And how does that help these young people??? It doesn’t.

Last I checked we were supposed to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thes 5:11) in love not toss a camera in front of a struggling person’s face with a simple “good luck.” We should be gripping these girls that courageously chose life in grace so that they can grow in character and experience a better life. Not to mention their babies.

These are real people walking through real situations enduring real emotions. It is time to stop glorifying the problem while these young people sink further into despair and start highlighting tools to help teen parents achieve personal success and healthy future relationships.

My prayer is that a Godly mentor will enter Amber’s life and help her see herself through the eyes of her Maker. God, who loves us with an everlasting love (Jer 31:3), created us in community not to be bystanders but to be His hands and feet to those around us. We can listen and offer hope through God’s love letter, aka the Bible, promoting heartfelt change. We can pray with them & meet at the coffee shop to discuss book studies that provide encouragement for the future. (My book with Pam has been used this way) We can show the teen parent that they are loved.

And, what we can’t do on our own we can refer for. Crisis pregnancy centers (1-800-395-HELP) will help evaluate their relationships and set new boundaries so that their past relationships choices aren’t their future ones. Doctors can provide medical assessments and instruction. School programs will help meet academic goals. Area groups like Teen MOPS and online sites like www.standupgirl.com will provide a setting to motivate and achieve success. The list goes on and on.

There is hope and when we quit watching and start helping everyone benefits. So, let’s be a part of the change that gives hope to tomorrow. Starting now.

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