Real life not reality TV for teen moms
November 15, 2010
Filed under Features
The drama of teen pregnancy is often restricted only to the bubble of reality T.V. shows in far away places and hushed up by rumors whispered in the hall. What we as happy-go-lucky teenagers need to realize is that in an instant, it becomes reality. With a plus sign on a little stick a whole life can change.
Tomball High School has been made witness to this continuing problem. Teen moms have walked its halls and are walking its halls today. Teen parents must deal with how the consequences of their actions affect their parents and family and are forced to handle the reactions of their peers.
Rachel Gusmeri, senior and teen mom, said “At first, people were walking around and saying the most horrible things about me, thinking I was a terrible person because I was pregnant. My mom was horribly mad, it was crazy.” Gusmeri and Cary Green, the father of son Brayden, also had to tell Green’s family.
“His family was at first really hesitant and on edge, but eventually they came around and are supportive of us and Brayden now,” Gusmeri recalls. “His family lives in Mississippi so they come and visit us pretty often.”
Choices and opinions flood in when a girl becomes pregnant, hitting teen parents with one of the most important decisions of their lives. Abortion, adoption, and keeping the child for their own. Often the young parents disagree, straining their relationships.
Gusmeri and Green, luckily, were unanimous in their decision.
“We thought about it very seriously, and initially decided upon giving the baby to a couple we knew who could not have kids,” Gusmeri said. “But as the pregnancy progressed and we saw the ultra-sounds and heard his heartbeat, we knew that baby was ours and we wanted him.”
The two decided to keep and raise Brayden, and though Gusmeri said that it was more difficult after he was born, it has been easier than she thought it would be.
“I just could not give him up once I could hear his heartbeat,” Gusmeri said.
When abruptly faced with the harshness of the reality of being a parent while trying to manage the demands of a teenaged life, many teen mothers are forced to choose parenting over education. Fewer than half of all girls who become mothers before turning 18 ever get their diplomas, and less than 2 percent earn a college degree by age 30. A new report shows that Harris County leads the nation in children born to mothers 15 and under.
However, Linda Nix, a counselor, has seen less severe statistics manifest in Tomball.
“Of the 8-12 pregnant students we have a year, I would say about one third withdrew from this high school, but that means that they have to enroll in another school to not be considered a drop out.” Nix noted, “Often times teen parents move around a lot because it takes so much support to stay successful. They move closer to an aunt or grandmother who can help with emotional support and childcare, if needed.”
Typically, a teen mother’s absence allowances remain the same as other students until after the baby is born, when the mother may stay home as long or short as a doctor allows. During her time at home, a teen mom is enrolled in a school program called Homebound that provides in-house education from a tutor.
With each case of a pregnant student, the school attempts to stay as involved and helpful as it can.
“We make sure parents are informed and support the girls by asking if they are getting proper medical attention and keeping them in track in school,” Nix stated.
Counselors also provide resources for the young moms, informing them about nearby affordable childcare and stores like TEAM that can provide them with clothing and furniture.
Lately, a few shows have cropped up following the lives of teen moms. 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager are among some of the most widely known shows revolving around teen-agers getting pregnant – raising the question, are the depictions of the show accurate? Gusmeri explains the variance between the battles depicted on television and those she has dealt with in real life.
“Glee just irritated me, but Teen Mom is very real and really shows how it goes. 16 & Pregnant can be really over dramatic, though,” she said. “I’m in no position to judge, but I think some of those moms need a few lessons in parenting.”
Gusmeri, though managing her life with the new addition of Brayden, has learned from her experiences.
“While I love Brayden, I absolutely do not encourage teen pregnancy. Wait,” she said. “If you’re going to have sex anyways, take as many precautions as you can, but waiting is the only thing.”