Thursday, December 13, 2007

RM column November 23rd - Left holding the baby

RM column November 23rd - Left holding the baby

REALITY TV is about all you can see on the box these days and while I am fed up to the back teeth of it all there’s a programme coming that I will be watching as well as insisting the Young Wan watch too.

It is a British show and will follow a gang of teenagers as they are put into a family situation with themselves as the parents and we get to watch how they get on.

Considering that the UK has the highest rate of teen pregnancies in western Europe there can be no better method of contraception than to place a gang of teens in the harshest parenting situation dealing with everything that being a parent throws at you.

Two of the strongest arguments against having children so young is that nearly a third of teenagers mothers in Britain are living alone with their baby a year after birth and children born to teen mothers are at a greater risk of living in poverty. These are British statistics but we know the apply here as much as over there.

We have seen many different attempts to show our young people just how hard it is to cope with a child when you are little more than a child yourself, from the dolls that cry unless they are being well-taken care of and even when they are not. But at the end of the day it is still a doll and not a live-screaming-gurgling and nappy-filling bundle of joy.

This show will start with a number of young couples aged between 16 and 19 years old. They will be living in a house together, given jobs and will get to experience pregnancy with an ‘empathy belly’. During that time they will have to attend ante-natal classes before being presented with a real live baby.

The babies will then be replaced with toddlers, the toddlers will then be replaced with pre-teens and of course family pets will also feature. As if that isn’t enough for them to cope with the teen couples’ young families will then ‘become’ teenagers before the elderly and infirm grandparents move in.

What a wonderful dose of reality these teenagers will get. No only should they be put off having children before they are ready, and hopefully not forever, but they will eventually have to deal with a version of themselves when their ‘babies’ become teens; stroppy, cheeky and hard-to-live with younger versions of themselves.

All this will take over what will probably be the longest month in these teenagers’ lives and should make for riveting viewing.

Sleepless nights will probably be the least of these kids’ worries, they will be told in leg-crossing eye-watering details of what can happen during birth, they will have to cope with caring for a young baby never mind have an insight into what their own parents deal with when the babies ‘grow’ into teenagers with a mind and mouth of their own.

Letting teenagers play house with your child is one thing (are the real parents mad?) and that aside this is a wonderful social experiment and it makes me wonder how many of the young couples remained couples at the end of it all.

I also wonder if in the coming years how many if any will become teenage parents in the future. Hopefully the show will prove to be a wonderful deterrent; in fact I would even go so far as to say this should become an obligatory subject for both our boys and girls in school.

There is no point whatsoever in this being an issue for girls alone. While we know often girls are left holding the baby, until we teach our boys responsibility too, we are just banging our heads off a brick wall never mind teaching our boys the worst possible lessons in responsibility or should that read irresponsibility.

Parenthood is wonderful, tough but wonderful but it is something that should never be viewed lightly or walked into blindly. I’ll be interested to see what the kids think themselves at the end of it all.

The show will be aired on BBC3 so I’ll have to wait for it to be broadcast on the non-digital channels but it is definitely one to watch.

No comments: