Teen Mom: Taking breaks, staying together, and moving out

Last night’s episode of Teen Mom was full of drama — Maci wanting to move out, Farrah wanting to move out, Catelynn lying about sleeping with her ex three years ago — and nothing tops the relationship problems that Amber and Gary were having. These problems raised a couple interesting questions.

1. Does asking for a break count as cheating?

Gary met a girl at Walmart, and he wanted to see if there was something there. So he asked Amber to take a “four-day break” in order to figure things out and see if he wanted to be with this new girl or stay with Amber. Amber’s reply, to her daughter Leah, was, “Daddy’s a cheater!” So does asking for a break count as cheating? 

First we have to define the difference between “taking a break” and “breaking up.” The line between the two is a bit blurry, but I’d say the difference is that with “taking a break,” you have some interest in coming back and reevaluating the relationship — with breaking up, you don’t want to give things a second chance, and you just want the relationship to be over. Gary wanted a break so he could test the waters with this new girl and figure out whether he wanted to stay with Amber or not.

The person who is being told about the break needs to evaluate whether s/he can, after the person explores and sees other people, continue to be in a relationship if the person comes back, which is implicit in “taking a break.” Amber ended up giving Gary a one-day pass with this girl, who he went on a date with and decided wasn’t worth breaking up his family. But something tells me the one-day pass will linger and keep causing problems between them.

Technically, if you haven’t done anything else prior, it’s not cheating to ask for a break. It is a guilt-free way to be with someone else though, like Nikkole’s (from 16 and Pregnant) on-again, off-again boyfriend Josh, who really does just break up with her so he can hook-up with other girls, and then he asks to date her again when he’s done with those pursuits. My friend Jonny said it best when it comes to asking for a break to see other people: “I mean, that’s not cheating, that’s just being a douchebag.”

Taking a break is the loophole around cheating, though some might argue that merely having the thoughts of wanting to be with someone else is a form of cheating. Gary had feelings for her, said they “somehow exchanged numbers,” and was texting her while still with Amber, which is cheating territory in my book — he didn’t do anything physically, but he was going behind Amber’s back to keep in touch with her.

2. Should you stay together for the kids?

My friend and fellow Teen Mom enthusiast Emily brought up a good point while we were discussing the show last night — should you stay together for the kid, even if you as parents are unhappy with each other? Amber and Gary also dealt with this, as they were obviously at each other’s throats but trying to make it work for Leah’s sake. Does Leah benefit from having them together physically even if they aren’t together emotionally?

I don’t think so. We saw with Maci and Ryan that trying to force something — e.g. almost getting married — just so two parents can live and raise the baby together is not healthy. Kids are intuitive — they aren’t going to be fooled by the fact that, despite that their parents live in the same house, they constantly fight and show no love for each other. I wouldn’t want my child to use that as a model for a healthy relationship.

________________________

Aside from Amber and Gary’s problems, we saw that trust can be broken even years later, as Tyler was beyond angry to learn that Catelynn had lied to him three years ago about hooking up with her ex. We also saw how important a support system is, as Farrah loses hers because of the domestic violence incident with her mom and is left to fend for herself in taking care of Sophia.

On the Farrah note, it was also interesting to see her struggle to find an apartment — it illustrates how difficult it really is to be young and on your own, when landlords want you to have a certain credit score/be a certain age/make a certain amount of money. Similarly, it was tough for Maci to find an apartment, not because of finances, but because of Bentley — it was the same situation Farrah had last season when she was apartment-hunting and found that none of the roommate living situations was conducive to raising a child.

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