16 year-old Jamie-Lynn Spears is pregnant…from her 19 year-old boyfriend. She is keeping the baby.
This story frightens me. Jamie Lynn is the star of a Nickelodeon Program called Zoey 101, which is aimed at 9-14 year olds, and if I were Nickelodeon, I would be scared too. The network is now considering running a special on teenagers and sex with Linda Ellerbee.
I have a lot of respect for Linda Ellerbee, and think she is a great journalist, but she is extremely out-of-touch to talk to kids today about sex. If Zoey 101’s creator Dan Schneider and some of the other directors of the show like Steve Hoefer and Steve Holland cared about their viewers, then they would do more than just a special with Linda Ellerbee.
Jamie Lynn Spears was admired and respected by her 9 to 14 year old viewers, so when she gets pregnant by a much older boyfriend, these kids and teens are confused. Does Nickelodeon really think that these same viewers are going to tune in to watch a special about pregnancy? And if they do tune in, what will make them listen? Surely it will not be Linda Ellerbee. She might be a respected journalist by adults, but she knows nothing about what teens are going through today in terms of dating, iming, school dances and high school relationships in the 2000’s.
Nickelodeon should be doing a program run by teens themselves and have a round table discussion about issues they face and how they are dealing with them and then their thoughts on Jamie Lynn Spears. Nick viewers would be much better served by this and, I believe, so would Nickelodeon’s executives and business developers: Samantha Greene Woodruff pay attention!
I would not recommend relying on Nick’s Special as it is currently developing, but parents definitely need to talk to their kids about this, here is what I recommend:
1) Tell them the What Happened:
Rumors fly, one of my clients told me that she thinks Jamie-Lynn’s boyfriend was really her cousin, who was also dating Britney and might be her baby’s daddy. Go over the facts with your child so they know the real story.
2) Ask them what they think:
This is crucial! Before telling them what you think, ask them what they think. To be honest, most teens think Jamie Lynn’s behavior is just as bad as you do. So, if they tell you that they think what she did was wrong and give you a bunch of reasons, then you do not need to tell them anything except that you are proud they can think that maturely.
3) Talk about the Repercussions:
Again, before telling them how horrible you think this is, brainstorm with them on the effect that this will have on Jamie Lynn’s life, as well as her boyfriend’s life, her family’s life and her unborn baby’s life. We are just as terrified as you are about getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant. Asking them: “what do you think will happen for the poor baby?” “Do you think Jamie Lynn Spears will be able to lead a ‘normal’ life after this?” “Do you think she is ready for a baby?” “Do you think she was ready to have sex?” “What do you think the boyfriend’s life will be like now that he is having a baby?” Thinking about these questions can be better than you just telling them your opinion, guiding them through what is happening for the Spear’s family can be a frightening and realistic consequence of being irresponsible so young.
4) See my previous post
A few days ago, I had posted about the rise in teen pregnancies and I gave 6 tips for parents who want to talk to their kids about sex. If you feel like you haven’t talked to your kids enough about safe sex, abstinence, STD’s and relationships, then please, please, please have it again–especially, if your teen wasn’t very responsive to the tips above.
I really hope that Nickelodeon gets it right and takes what it does so well with its shows–catering to a younger audience, and applies it to educating a younger audience on a very important topic.