The Sad State of American "Fatherhood"

I made the mistake last night of watching MTV’s “16 and Pregnant.” In the episode I saw, a 17-year-old black teen girl named Jordan was having a baby with her white teen boyfriend, Tyler. Jordan says she chose Tyler at school because he was unpopular and basically not very attractive (he is overweight but so is she) and a nerd. Thinking that he would be so grateful just to get a girl that he would do anything for her, she chooses him as a boyfriend. Her friends make fun of her for dating him but he actually seems to be one of the few guys on this show who actually want her and the baby. He gives her foot rubs and buys her a $300.00 baby crib for when their son arrives.

Jordan’s mother, Kelly, is a domineering woman who doesn’t want a “white boy in her house” and doesn’t allow Tyler over, even with Jordan having his baby. Eventually Jordan wises up and moves over to Tyler’s house as his parents are accepting of the relationship and welcome her there. However, once Jordan’s mother tells her that Tyler can come in their house to see the baby, Jordan moves back home. Tyler is as welcome as a leper at their home, however. Even though he is allowed in, Tyler is seen as an outside threat who has no rights in her home.

Naturally, once the baby comes, Tyler doesn’t feel welcome and rarely sees his son, Chase. Jordan refers to the child as “my son” and acts as though Tyler is a visitor. At one point, Tyler doesn’t call for a while and then comes over and asks to see his son and Jordan says he is sleeping and he cannot even look at him. Tyler curses at her and her brothers come down the stairs to beat him up. It’s disturbing that Tyler is chased to his car by the two brothers and then later, Jordan is sitting with the baby talking about how Tyler abandoned the child and how she was going to get custody and not allow him to see Chase at all. Welcome to the new state of fatherhood in America.

Men are thrown out of their children’s lives, while mothers tell themselves, their family and the child how dad abandoned them. All mom has to do is tell the courts that the dad has “abandoned” the family (i.e. he didn’t submit to all of my demands) and he can lose his child and/or be forced to pay for a child that he may never see. This episode made it clear that this father had few rights, if any, to his own child. Sure, in the next episode, Jordan may relent, but his rights depend only on how generous she decides to be. It’s a sad state of affairs.