Movie Mom

Movie Mom

What Do We Tell Zoey Fans?

posted by Nell Minow

What do we tell fans of the hit Nickelodeon series “Zoey 101″ now that the star, 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears, is pregnant?
On television, Zoey is one of the first girls at a boarding school that has just gone co-ed. Zoey has problems like figuring out who tp’d the girls’ dorm, finding a prom date, or playing Disc Golf against the team from the correctional school. In real life, the girl who plays Zoey, is having a baby.
Spears, the sister of pop sensation turned tabloid sensation Britney, plans to have the baby and raise it at home. The media refers to the baby’s father as her “long-term boyfriend.” In my view, no one at 16 is old enough to have a long-term anything. “Long-term” may not be a good thing, anyway. There are media reports that he may be charged with statutory rape. Having sex, even consensual, with an underage girl is rape, a felony with serious criminal penalties. And given the record of Spears’ parents in raising their own children, I would not be surprised if Child Protective Services tried to intervene to prevent them from raising this child to prevent all of us from having to go through another media frenzy over what the baby is doing in another dozen years.
But the most important issue right now is how we as parents talk to our children about what is happening. “Zoey 101″ is an Emmy-award-winning and very popular television show aimed at 8-14-year olds. What makes this situation especially difficult is that it is just at this age that children first look outside the family and school for role models and they can take it very hard when the celebrities they admire get into trouble.
The most important thing parents can do is be there to answer questions and to make it clear that Jamie Lynn made a big mistake that will affect the rest of her life but that her family still loves and supports her. You might also want to talk about how sometimes people we admire very much, both those we know and those we watch from afar, don’t live up to our expectations, and that that can be hard to handle. It is okay to still like Zoey (or Jamie Lynn). And it is also okay to like her less, based on her behavior. But we never feel bad about having been a fan, even when we are ready to move on.
You should also ask some gentle questions of your own to find out what your child thinks about what is happening and what she thinks Jamie Lynn and her family should do. Now may be the time to listen more than talk. We might wish we could pick the times for these teachable moments, but sometimes they are thrust upon us, and all we can do is try to provide information and support for what may be a very difficult moment for our children.
Are you getting questions about Jamie Lynn? How are you handling them?

  • Precious

    He who has no sin let him cast the first stone.
    Tell them those that are able to understand ,Harmones start to kick in around 11 years old .
    Sit down and really tell them the truth as much as you can about life .
    Tell them do not judge because they may have to walk in her shoes one day.
    We are all a people who have hidden sins or mess in our homes ,yes we do and some of us try to keep it ,the mess away form our children.
    Please know they have ears(our children)also they learn from what they see.
    Another thing we seniors kept our mess wrapped up in the back of the house or sneaking somewhere in school .
    Pray for her and her family .
    Two years with the same young man an A+ not bad.
    Most young girls an guys have ran through 5 or six differnt mates by time they are 15.
    He who say he has no sin is a liar and the truth is not in Him.

  • Nell Minow

    Thank you, Precious, for those thoughtful and compassionate comments.

  • Not Buying It.

    The most important thing parents can do is be there to answer questions and to make it clear that Jamie Lynn made a big mistake that will affect the rest of her life but that her family still loves and supports her.
    The most important thing parents can do is throw the television set out the window and stop worrying about what some 16-year-old with no home training is doing in her bedroom.

  • Nell Minow

    You can throw the television set out the window and keep yourself from worrying about someone else’s 16-year-old, but you can’t keep the entire world outside the window and children who don’t watch television talk to their friends and read magazines and newspapers and they think and worry about what other people are doing. Parents need to be able to respond in a way that will be reassuring and instructive.

  • Anonymous

    This coming from a mother who had her child at 16 years old…my daughter now 13 years old and well aware of how old I was when she was born. I would never tell my daughter or anyone that they were a mistake. God creates babies and I agree that 16 years old is very young and you don’t know everything you should before making that decision to have a baby but who does? There are people I know in their 30’s and 40’s that shouldn’t be allowed to have babies. Yes, this will make her life a lot harder, but this is something that could actually make her a lot stronger and be a positive thing for her. Everyone makes choices and some are better than others. I’ve made many choices that have made my life more difficult than it should be but the point I stress to my kids is to learn from their choice and try to improve them. Society, the media we all promote this sexual image and then wonder why the children younger and younger want to be sexy and look older and older. So maybe we should stop being so judgmental and look at how we can improve the images and messages we are portraying to these children, and no condemn and judge them when they fall into what we are showing them. Throwing a TV or computer out the window isn’t going to stop them from seeing the real world. Talking to our children about what happens when we make choices is going to help them make good choices. I grew up in a Christian home and school, my parents taught me right and wrong, they supported me and at 16 years old I made a choice 1 time that has now changed my life for ever. I will talk to my daughter and listen to hear and hopefully she will be very happy and prosperous in life.

  • Not buying it

    I find it ironic that a 16 year old who sleeps around is a bad role model, but a 16 year old who sleeps around, gets knocked up, and decides to bring her pregnancy to term is a good role model.

  • Anonymous

    Who said anything about it being a good role model? I teach my kids to be respectful, independent and do their best to make good choices, make your choices knowing the consequences. I do not want my kids striving to be anyone but theirselves. They can’t watch whatever show they want and I don’t expect them to change their life and want to be them. I talk to my kids about what is going on in school and I think more parents should parent their children instead of trying to be their friends. I wouldn’t like any of my daughters coming home pregnant at 16 or any teen for that matter. Children should be brought into the world for all the right reasons and the sad reality is that most of the time they aren’t. A lot of people that want children can’t have them and people like Brittany shouldn’t have them and do.

  • Julie

    I think it has been a good time to emphasize to my girls our moral standards, and how life will be much harder for a teenage girl to ever be able to feel like a teenage girl, and hang out like teenagers want to do, now that she will be a mother. My girls could see based on principals we’ve worked to instill in them that it was not a smart decision for Jamie Lynn. It also shows them that decisions a child makes affects a large number of people, family, extended family, friends, acquiantances and that there is a lot of reactions to face.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks for your excellent comment, Julie. I like the way you are using this situation to make the larger points about the effect this will have not just on Jamie Lynn but on her family and community. It will not be easy for the baby, either.

  • Tisha

    Now, what about 16 year olds who sleep around, get knocked up and then have an abortion? Now, I am pro-choice, but it seems that the only thing anyone cares about is how this “looks.” The real message seems to be that you can be and do whatever you want and it’s okay as long as you don’t get caught.
    Do you guys really think that this Spears girl is the only 16 to get pregnant in Hollywood? Child stars are famous for living the lives of adults at a very young age. I mean this girl lived with her boyfriend for heaven’s sake. So, before you go talking about this 16 year old child who is causing difficult conversations for your families. Think about this 16 year old child and the fact that her parents allowed her to live with a grown man. Also think about how her “scandalous” sister got blasted when she tried to talk her sister into using birth control.
    Just my two cents.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks for your two cents, Tisha. I appreciate your comments. I agree, as my original post pointed out, that her parents have done an awful job. They exploited their children without regard for their welfare.
    I think it is legitimate for us to focus on the impact on our own families. Those families with fans of Jamie Lynn may need some support in talking to their children about the situation. That’s how we make sure that the real message is not that it’s okay whatever you do as long as you don’t get caught.

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