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The Grandmothers On ‘Teen Mom’ Want To Take Over, But They’ve Already Failed Once

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While the young ladies of Teen Mom land on tabloid covers and in celebrity blogs around the country, there’s another set of mothers on that show who get much less attention. The grandmothers on MTV’s reality series have their own set of problems and often contribute just as much to raising the babies as the teens. But are they encouraging their kids to take responsibility for their situation, or are they enabling bad behavior and making the situation worse?

One of the most competent mothers to come from this show is Farrah Abraham. Sure, she has her own issues, but Farrah seems to be trying to raise a happy daughter and will be the first of the teen mothers to earn a degree, an Associates of Culinary Management. Her daughter’s father passed away before the baby was ever born, and on this season of Teen Mom, we’ve watched Farrah struggle through trying to get social security benefits and fighting off a grandparent’s visitation lawsuit from Sophia’s paternal grandmother. While both of these issues have been stressful, Farrah has faced them and done her best.

So it was a little shocking when Farrah’s mother, Debra Danielson, suggested taking temporary custody of baby Sophia while Farrah relocated to Florida for school. Debra gained some media coverage when she was arrested for assaulting Farrah, and since then the two have been trying to mend their relationship. But Debra seems pretty convinced that a young, single mother can’t possibly take care of a child on her own without a support network around here, even if that network is dysfunctional and abusive. She insists that it’s irresponsible to move Sophia out of the state, but apparently leaving your child for a couple years to move to Florida makes logical, grown-up sense?

In this situation, it’s easy to argue that this grandmother needs to back off and allow her young daughter to make her way on her own. Sure, single motherhood will never be easy. But Farrah is actually attending school and trying to plan a future with her daughter. Isn’t this something her parents should be proud of and celebrating? It’s possible that Debra honestly doesn’t believe that it’s possible to raise a child on your own and attend school, as she let her parents raise Farrah and her sister while she was getting her MBA, but I find it depressing that a mom would have so little faith in her daughter.

In this week’s Life & Style, Farrah opened up about her acquienscence to her mom’s suggestions. The dedicated young mother really did leave her daughter behind as she moved over a thousand miles away to attend school. And now, I can’t help feeling let down by both of them. This young woman, who so many teens are paying attention to, had the opportunity to show that young moms don’t have to turn out destitute and dependent. It’s not easy, but single moms everywhere go back to school, and they normally don’t have a reality TV gig to pay the bills while they do so. It wouldn’t been encouraging to see an example of this in the media.

Instead, the story-lines shift to how Farrah now wants to “relive the youth she feels she was robbed of,” and other tired cliches of teenage motherhood. It praises a woman who was arrested on assault charges for stepping up and taking responsibility when her daughter needed her. And it ignores the fact that young mothers need to stop using their age as an excuse for immaturity. Once you have a child, you no longer get to use the numbers as a defense. You’re expected to move past your adolescence and become an adult, because it takes a grown-up to raise a child.

The young women on this show have always had the opportunity to show the positives and the negatives of teen parenthood. It’s easy to see why the mothers of Amber Portwood or Jenelle Evans would need to step in and care for their grandchildren. Those ladies have arrest records and addiction habits to deal with. But it’s hard to watch a young mom who has the ability to care for her daughter give up that right, simply because a grandmother steps in and says that it’s the responsible thing to do. Possibly even more disturbing is the fact that Farrah doesn’t have any time frame in mind for when she’ll resume her mothering responsibilities. If she and her mom don’t disagree once Farrah’s ready to be a mom again, what will happen next? I presume we’ll find out next season.