Teen Mom: Violence, child support, cohabitation, more babies

Last night was the season premiere of Teen Mom, and it started with a lot of drama. From family violence and child support to cohabitation and pregnancy scares, the episode was chock full of intense and shocking moments.

1. Family Violence

The episode began with a phone call from Farrah to the police, telling the police that she had been punched in the face by her mom. This isn’t the first time Farrah’s mom became violent, but it’s the worst incident that has been on the show. Farrah might have an attitude problem, but nothing gives her mom the right to punch her in the face.

Parent to child domestic violence is often overshadowed, as it isn’t as common as spouse to spouse domestic violence or other types of family violence. Whereas spousal violence accounts for nearly half of family violence incidents, parent to child violence accounts for 10.5 percent, according to the Justice Department. But like any type of family violence, Farrah’s circumstances make legal action or staying away from the offender difficult.

Because Farrah was living with her mom, she had to drop the protection order against her mom to be able to get into the house. I’m not sure what would have happened if they didn’t have a guest house where Farrah could stay, because her mom and baby Sophia couldn’t be under the same roof without an adult aside from Farrah there. Because Farrah is relying so heavily on her mom, she can’t get away from the violent behavior — this dependence is an unfortunate theme throughout domestic violence.

The state is pressing charges against Farrah’s mom, who on the night of the attack was almost shot by police because she was allegedly holding knives and not cooperating with officers to put them down. Domestic violence is typically about power, and here Farrah’s mom wielded a lot of power — Farrah relies on her mom for shelter, food, and childcare, so it would have been just as easy for Farrah not to report the incident for fear of losing a place to live.

2. Child Support

Maci tried to deal with child support outside of court, but Ryan told her that she’d have to take him to court for the money. This is either because Ryan is unemployed and doesn’t have money to give, or because he’s an immature douche who doesn’t think he should have to contribute financially to raising his child — probably a bit of both.

Maci’s meeting with the lawyer answered some questions that I hope other parents will take to heart if they are having trouble with child support — mainly that (1) even if the person isn’t employed, that person is still required to pay child support, which will be adjusted accordingly to the fact the person doesn’t have a job (Ryan was told to pay $80 or so each week); and (2) you don’t have to worry about finding the person and serving papers, the court will do that for you (you don’t have to worry about tracking them down or having to deal with them in person).

Child support can be a mess when the other parent is being uncooperative or can’t afford to make the payments. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, not even half (46.8 percent) the parents due to receive child support in 2007 got the full amount they were owed, with 29.5 percent getting a portion and 23.7 percent getting no child support at all. Both parties are responsible for creating the baby and should be responsible for taking care of the baby, but that philosophy doesn’t always play out in reality.

3. Cohabitation

Until now, Catelynn and Tyler had been the dream couple — never fought, always happy together, and Dr. Drew just loved them on his season-end reunion specials because he could use them as an example of how putting your baby up for adoption makes your life so much better; after all, Catelynn and Tyler were just peachy and all these other teen moms were having relationship problems.

Last night, however, we saw that living together can affect even the most disgustingly cute couples. Catelynn was living with Tyler and his mom because her own mom had moved an hour away — living with Tyler and his mom allowed her to stay in the same school district and see Tyler on a regular basis, not to mention her relationship with her mom had been strained since she gave baby Carly up for adoption.

“I don’t think couples should be together 24/7 anyway, it’s not healthy,” Tyler told his mom on last night’s episode. He was lamenting how he just wanted time to himself, but living with Catelynn provided no time for that and they were getting on each other’s nerves by seeing each other so much. Catelynn had overstayed her welcome, and Tyler’s mom asked her to move back home.

Living together is tough — I’m a firm believer in cohabitation before marriage, because I think no matter how well you think you know someone, you don’t know them until you’ve lived with them. Those daily habits, their cleanliness level, certain lifestyle quirks — you won’t see those until you live together, and you won’t know if you can stand being around each other a lot unless you give it a trial run.

Catelynn and Tyler’s trial run was slightly different, though, because they were living with his mom and were not even done with high school. High school relationships are difficult enough — you’re still maturing, changing as a person, etc. — without having to actually live with that person. At that age, you need lots of (your own) room to grow.

4. Pregnancy Scares  

Catelynn started off last season with a pregnancy scare, and this season it was Amber. She was feeling sick and her body felt the same as it did when she was first pregnant with Leah — with both her and her boyfriend Gary being unemployed and constantly having relationship problems, another baby was the furthest thing from what they had in mind.

“We should have learned the first time, right?” Amber nervously asked the doctor before she took a pregnancy test and later learned it was negative. She explained that it was a heat of the moment thing, and only in that one instance did her and Gary not use a condom. Her friend reminded her that those “heat of the moment” instances are what lead to pregnancy — and at least two of the four teen moms continued to have unprotected sex despite already having one child as a result of unprotected sex.

This pattern of unprotected sex — one study found that nearly one-quarter of young women were pregnant multiple times in their teens — makes one wonder how to prevent unplanned pregnancies if even having an unplanned pregnancy isn’t enough to prevent “heat of the moment” unprotected sex from happening again. It might have something to do with what happens in your brain during sex, but I’m sure if I try Googling that at work, I’ll get some NSFW websites … so I’ll do that research later.


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