Thursday, June 11, 2009

A time to advise

Washington Post's Tom Shales had a nice article on the forthcoming "16 and Pregnant" documentary from MTV. Tonight's opening show profiles Maci and Ryan from Chattanooga, TN. Ryan doesn't come across very well, post birth of his son:

"But though Ryan shares an apartment with Maci and their son, he won't share parenting duties. He's petrified of changing a diaper and not much more comfortable at feeding time, finding it convenient to run out and play pool with friends. At home, he's not so much couch potato as couch zucchini, lying down and staring sideways at the TV. When the baby cries, he always sees it as Maci's problem, then complains that arguing with her about the baby is "wearing me out." Ryan's idea of being a good father is to have the baby's name tattooed on his torso."

Yes, Ryan's behavior isn't helpful or attractive or defensible. However, the author's use of the word "petrified" is revealing. Perhaps it isn't that Ryan is a bum, perhaps he's scared out of his wits of the responsibility of an a human life in his lap, perhaps he doesn't have the skills to be the provider/guide/nuturer that he would want to be, and perhaps he is mourning the premature death of his boyhood.

And if we saw Ryan's reaction in light of those fears, perhaps we would have a bit more sympathy and a bit less condescension for him.

2 comments:

  1. very insightful

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  2. That's a great observation. I also wonder if he has a good fathering role model. Since he is petrified, it's clear that he doesn't know what it takes to be a good dad. Even though people may find being a parent exhausting, I don't think most relish in the idea that they suck.

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