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Myranda Trevino is one of the latest teenage mothers to be featured on the fourth season of MTV’s popular program, 16 and Pregnant. The 17 year-old high school junior learned that she would become a mother only a short time after she started dating boyfriend, Eric. After battling a lifetime of substance abuse, Trevino’s mother allowed her daughter to move in with Eric and his grandmother after they had only been dating for six months. In fact, in one of the opening scenes to the episode, the pair can be found spooning in bed as his grandmother folds clothes and vacantly warns, “When y’all get up out of that bed, y’all better make it up.”

This had me thinking: This can’t be life. Since when did it become acceptable for teenagers to play house under the same roof as their parents, so that essentially they have all of the privileges of being an adult and none of the responsibilities? In my opinion, this is lazy parenting. And apparently this in fact IS life where we refuse to communicate to our children the ins and outs of contraception and sexual health, but allow them to engage in sexual activity under our own roofs, sending them conflicting messages about values.

In Trevino’s case, we have a young girl from a broken home whose parents probably weren’t the most responsible people to begin with, but when other families experience a teenage pregnancy, they sometimes believe distance can be a deterrent to the teen couple’s ability to share responsibilities effectively. For this reason some parents allow the young parents to cohabitate so the baby’s life will be more cohesive since he/she will have constant access to both parents. Unfortunately, what happens more often than not is that teens see this as an excuse to play house, and act like adults in what is an unrealistic situation.

In fact, on another episode of 16 and Pregnant, a 16 year-old named Lindsey confidently tells her mom about plans to move in with boyfriend Forest after the birth of the baby only to attempt to push intimidating hospital paperwork onto her mother in the hospital after the baby is born.  After her mom tells her she doesn’t understand why she has to fill out paperwork if Lindsey no longer lives with her, the young woman puts up the defense, “It’s because I’m not 18, and since I am not 18 yet, legally you guys are responsible for my bills!”  All of this before she goes for a full-blown tantrum and dismisses her mom from the room with an entitled, “Shut up.”  And just so we’re clear, Lindsey is anxious to move into a home where Forest’s mother insists on him not working to support his child since he has to finish school.  Where was she when he was making babies?  Yes, it’s television, but it’s TV that’s mirroring many households across the country.

There’s a reason that we call them minors.  Most teenagers lack the life experience and discipline it takes to make major decisions, especially when it comes to sexual health and relationships.  It’s a parent’s responsibility to enforce boundaries. When you allow teenagers to live as a couple under your roof where you pay bills, you’re essentially allowing them the perks of living “on their own” but off of you and with none of the responsibility.  Many parents say they allow their teens to live together for one of three reasons:

1.  They figure if their teens are going to be sexually active, they prefer it to be in a place that’s safe where parents can be reached if necessary.

2.   The partner may be experiencing hardships at home, and the family steps in to provide safety and security, when the partner’s parents cannot.

3.  The family believes that teen parents should raise a child as a family, and don’t want to have to deal with the challenges that come with raising children in separate homes.

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