Would you let a teen borrow your baby to teach them a lesson in life? We talked to one mom who did. Natalie, a 31-year-old mother of four, offered up her youngest child, 6-month-old, Etta to be cared for by teenage couple, Sean (18) and Kelsey (18) on last night's episode of the The Baby Borrowers.
NBC's new show takes five young couples and thrusts them into the real world by giving them a house to live in, followed by babies, tots, school aged children, preteens, teens, pets and elderly people as charges. The series couldn't be more timely with magazine covers dedicated to Jamie Lynn Spears's transition from Nickelodeon star to new mama. And, it's the glamorization of teen pregnancy that is why Natalie, who had her first son at the tender age of 17, decided to volunteer (no one on the show was paid) her offspring. With a professional nanny following the couple, and the ability to watch them on monitors and intervene at any time, the mother helped Kelsey experience the realities — the sleepless nights and frustration — of motherhood.
Did you have any apprehension about handing your baby over to teenagers? Not really — I thought it was important to do the show and everything was in place as far as safety measures. So I wasn't in fear at all as far as their (Natalie's son, Benjamin appears in the second episode) physical well being and I think that I was on hand to ensure emotional well being for them. I went over and interjected at one point.
What was the breaking point that made you decide to interfere? Well, Sean got frustrated and then he cursed, and said, "Put it in the other room it's just gonna cry anyway". The fact that he cursed and was referring to my daughter as "it" was my last straw.
To hear about Natalie's own experience as a teen mom and how she believes teenage pregnancy is portrayed in the media, read more.
Did you relate to Sean and Kelsey's emotions and frustration as you were their age when you became a mother? Yes, I did and I told them it's perfectly acceptable to get frustrated and go in the other room and scream into a pillow or cry in the shower, but it's not acceptable to curse at or while referring to your child. And, at the age Etta was at — you're there to handle their needs because they can't do it for themselves and they just couldn't act that way.
How did you feel about the overall experience — would you do it again? I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
In light of the Time magazine piece about the pregnancy pact at Gloucester High School, do you think this show might change the teen's view of pregnancy?. I truly wish that this was incorporated in all of the schools. There's usually a focus on abstinence or sex education, but not so much the realities. More than just telling kids they could get a sexually transmitted disease, they should know that every single time they choose to have sex, condom or no condom, they still need to be prepared to have a baby as a result. If it's a decision that they are OK with and prepared for, then go ahead and do whatever you are going to do. I was one of those girls just like the girls that you are hearing about now. I got pregnant on purpose because I thought I knew it all and I wanted my parents to know that I could do it myself and I could be a good mother.
What do you think about the way the media portrays teen pregnancy? It's really wrong. Everything has a happy ending. You'll have the baby and you'll move on and that's just not the reality if you're not from a prominent family. There's not always a mother to help or people to hand the baby off to.
Does your story have a happy ending? Absolutely, my story has a happy ending in general and that my kids are all healthy. But I have a 13-year-old son who chooses not to live with me, but to live with his father and this is not one of those court cases where my son was awarded to someone else. He asked about two years ago to go live with his dad because I grew up with him instead of already knowing who I was as a person before I started mothering him. I got frustrated and when there were things that went wrong, I blamed it on him. It's hard because I was a mother doesn't mean that I was a good mother or that I was equipped to take care of him.
So did you do this, in part, to prevent that from happening to other teens? It's good for teens who might be going down that path, but it's also good for their kids that are a product of these relationships because no one is out there advocating for them and they just happen to be born in these circumstances. My kids certainly didn't ask for it and I've put some emotional scars on them and I am deeply sorry for that, but I hope that at least I can help others from making the same mistake.
“The Baby Borrowers” is moving to 9 p.m. ET on Wednesdays beginning July 2 with repeats of the prior week's episode airing before the originals at 8 p.m. ET. Check back soon for our interview with Kelsey.