16 and Pregnant recap: Don't Cry For Them, Alabama
Warning: Do not let the sight of gangly, awkward teenagers crying while holding their newborn baby make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It doesn’t end well.
Boy, the tears were flowing after Emily, this week’s teen mom, gave birth to her son Liam. The “L” word was flying, as hugs and kisses were shared all around the delivery room. Her boyfriend (slash maybe fiance?) Daniel, seemed all kinds of supportive, so much so that had you just stumbled across this scene while channel-surfing, you might say, “My, what a nice little show this is. These kids are going to really make it work!” But this was just a fleeting moment — a break from the reality — that Emily and Daniel were experiencing as new teen parents.
Aside from that one undeniably emotional moment, I wasn’t a fan of Daddy Daniel from the beginning. A high school senior, he was recently accepted to University of Alabama, Hunstville on scholarship, and planned to major in aeronautical and mechanical engineering (fancy, huh?). While he hoped that Emily would join him — and soon become his wife so they could conveniently reside in the university’s married couples’ housing — his detailed plans dripped with condescension and total disregard for his baby mama, revealing that he had been coddled into believing that he could go on to do whatever he wanted while his girlfriend would tend to their child. (Kid, get a haircut before your infant son starts tugging on those luscious locks thinking it’s his blankie.)
Emily had already given up a lot with her pregnancy. For starters, her mother disapproved and would not let her live under her roof pregnant, so she packed up and shipped out to her dad’s house, which was an hour, and an entirely different high school, away in Hayden, AL. Luckily her dad and stepmom were more supportive, albeit disappointed about the situation. “Did I tell you it was okay to have sex?” Papa Stacey asked. (Um, talk about a battle that’s already been lost!) Stacey also was the first parent this season to bring up the conversation of options — namely, abortion — although Emily explained that she had decided against it after some extensive research: “I like looked it up on the computer and decided that was wrong and stuff.” To each her own, but as a frequent WebMd’er (and hypochondriac), there’s always room for a second (or third, or fourth…) opinion outside of the Internet (shocking, I know!).
At first, things between the couple seemed to be going well, despite the distance between them. Daniel made the hour-long drive on weekends to spend time with Emily, assuring her that he would be a good daddy come baby time. But it wasn’t long before the high school administrators were cracking down and threatening to fail Emily on account of her attendance record. Ten absences per semester certainly doesn’t seem extreme for a pregnant teen (especially if they’re excused per doctor’s note?), and Stacey felt the school’s “policy” reflected the conservative viewpoints of Hayden: “They don’t like it cause she’s pregnant…this community is going to be kind of tough.”
NEXT: Another reason why Daniel’s parents might be avoiding the Piggly Wiggly checkout.
You could see from his parents’ attitudes where Daniel got his dismissiveness toward Emily’s point of view. During an awkward meeting of the families, Daniel’s mother gushed about her son’s scholarship and road to inevitable world dominance thanks to his natural intellectual superiority — hey, he’s got those XY chromosomes — without even considering how it would fit in with the future of her son’s baby (a.k.a. her grandson, if that makes it more real for you, lady). Stacey made it clear that there needed to be some concern for his daughter’s predicament and not just praise for Daniel (who was equally responsible, no?):
Stacey: Hey the kid is smart, hey that’s wonderful, but I can have my opinion about putting the golden path down for this boy’s education while my girl is going to be working at the local Piggly Wiggly as a cash register!
Daniel’s father: [Wearing khaki. Silently judging] Oh I hope not.
Yes, they have every right to be proud of their son, but what irked me was the underlying belief shared by Daniel and his parents that Emily had more of a responsibility to the baby because she is a woman. They never specifically stated this, but they didn’t have to; why did Daniel get to take weeks off from visiting Emily and baby just because he had to work and finish school? Wasn’t she doing the same? After Emily had been caring for the baby alone for two weeks, things came to a head when they finally were together again. His ignorance towards her sacrifices and struggles left me fuming:
Emily: I wish you could be around all the time, because I don’t like taking care of him by myself.
Daniel: I wish I could be around more, but I’ve got school and work.
Emily: It’s not as easy as you think.
Daniel: I think you’re making it sound a whole lot harder than it is, though.
Emily: No, I promise, I’m not.
Daniel: It’s not that hard.
Emily: How do you know?
Daniel: I…don’t know I guess.
Emily: What you do is not like 24/7, like you have a break when you go to sleep at night. Like I still have to worry about Liam, and I can’t like go do things anytime I want. You can just be like, ‘I’m coming home at 12.’
Daniel: Yeah, but I might as well take advantage of the opportunities while I have it [sic].
Doesn’t she deserve that too? And shouldn’t he handle his responsibilities first and foremost? And if you still can’t agree, put your paycheck to use and hire a nanny already. Emily’s growing frustration manifested itself as resentment toward her clueless baby daddy, which just colored Daniel all shades of nasty. When she expressed reservations about marriage (as she should, please don’t do it!) he quipped that she was “stuck with him,” and couldn’t do any better. Why is Emily — the strong, single, teen mother, who put her education and familial relationships on the line — perceived as the “ruined woman” at 16, while Daniel, who is still a teen father himself, is encouraged/expected to pursue all the doors that are open to him?
No easy answers this time around. Do you think things are peachy now between Emily and Daniel? Did you do a slow clap when Emily finally told Daniel, “I realized I have other options,” or do you think she should follow him to Huntsville? What do you think about the double standard regarding each of their futures? Sound off in the comments below!