By Amy Sondova Ever since Jamie Lynn Spears announced her pregnancy, she has been the talk of the tabloids. It seems that big sister Britney’s troubles cut in on Jamie Lynn’s press time. Gossip columnists have speculated whether or not Jamie Lynn’s boyfriend has abandoned her, if Jamie Lynn’s a victim of statutory rape, and suggested that Jamie Lynn’s partying a little too hearty.
The 16 year-old “Zoey 101″ star is being scrutinized from every angle from the T.V. executives at Nickelodeon who will decide whether or not to continue her show (she is “Zoey” after all) to the mothers of ‘tween girls to the judgmental eyes of the general public that’s hungry for celebrity scandals. In fact, many people were wondering if Jamie Lynn was just a chip off the old Spears block and waiting for her to follow in her sister’s footsteps.
Then there’s the movie Juno, which has been heralded as an instant classic, the must-see movie of the year, and a great heart-warming flick that helps us to reconsider our relationships with one another. Juno is a great movie with fascinating characters. It’s easy to fall in love with 16 year-old Juno, who is intelligent, amusing, and has a very nonchalant approach to life. We see life as a a pregnant teen through Juno’s eyes (or at least the movie maker’s eyes), and most of us understand her struggles and feel compassion for her. In fact, as a society, we tend to applaud Juno’s wise, but difficult decision to give her baby up for adoption, instead of getting an abortion. This movie shows that there are other options for pregnant teens, including adoption.
We are amused and enchanted by Juno, a character in a movie and disgusted by Jamie Lynn Spears, a girl who plays a character on a television show. Both girls are 16. Juno had sex with her long-time guy pal and Jamie Lynn had sex with her long-time boyfriend. Juno makes the “right” choice and gives the baby up for adoption. Jamie Lynn is making the “wrong” choice and keeping the baby. The idea of Juno being a teen mom was also raised in Juno–-she never wanted to be a mom, but she did say that adoptive parents would not necessarily be better parents.
Ironically, when teenager Keisha Castle-Hughes, who is known for her roles in The Whale Rider and as Mary in The Nativity Story, announced she was pregnant, heads turned but it was nothing like what Jamie Lynn Spears is enduring. Keisha played the Holy Mother for crying out loud! In fact, the Baptist Press even asked people not to shun the actress. It begs the question–why is it OK for Juno to be a pregnant teen and not Jamie Lynn? Why can we show mercy to Juno, a fictional character, and not Jamie Lynn, a real 16 year-old girl? Perhaps it’s because we know that Juno is really actress Ellen Page, and she’s not really pregnant, is she? But Jamie Lynn…well, she’s Zoey, and Zoey’s a role model for young girls everywhere, so she just can’t be pregnant.
It’s as if suddenly young girls everywhere will think it’s OK for teenage girls to get pregnant and soon there will be a pregnancy epidemic on our hands. Oh, wait…there’s sex ed in schools, isn’t there? Don’t we have a choice to teach kids and teens and college students and young adults and even older people to make smart choices about sex and dare I say, abstinence? Just because they act irrationally sometimes doesn’t mean that ‘tweens don’t have rational thinking skills.Teach kids to make smart choices, and often, they will…as long as the role models in their lives also make smart choices. And when they don’t, may God grant us the mercy to offer guidance, support, and unconditional love.
My friend, Ginger MacDonald of TastyFaith wrote a fabulous article titled, “What Juno Didn’t Tell You” about her years of experience working with teen moms. She also has a wonderful array of resources for teenagers on TastyFaith, including Life After Birth, which you can sample and purchase.