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The Baby Borrowers: An Inside Mom's View

Remember high school sex ed when the teacher coupled us off and gave us an egg to "raise?" Crack the egg and you fail. Well, NBC, working with the National Campaign Against Teen Pregnancy, has turned that into a six-week reality TV show that begins airing at 9 p.m. Wednesday called "The Baby Borrowers".

In the show, five couples aged 18 to 20 move to houses on a cul-de-sac in Idaho for three weeks, during which time they'll parent babies, toddlers, pre-teens, teens and the elderly. When NBC first announced the show would air, The Natural Child project director Jan Hunt sent an open letter to NBC decrying the premise of removing babies from their parents and handing them off to teens for a few days.

I'll readily admit, I started watching the shows with a skeptical eye. What parent in their right mind would hand their baby over to teens for three days, even if they were watching from another house? And even though I found the first show in particular to be slow going, I didn't hate it as much as I thought. In fact, unlike my view of other reality TV shows, this one might actually do some good -- if teens watch it.

But still, about those parents. What really prompts someone to hand their child over to reality television? And what was the experience on the set really like?



VIDEO | 'The Baby Borrowers'

For that I turned to Natalie Nichols. Nichols, age 31, and her husband Chet, 36, had two children appear on the show. Etta was 6 months old at the time of the shooting and is now 17 months old; Benjamin was 2. Both children spent three days in the care of Kelsey and Sean. Kelsey came on the show with a desire to have children. Sean wanted to prove that they weren't ready for the responsibility. And Natalie wanted to show the teens just how hard it really is to have children.

Nichols got married at age 17 and gave birth to her first son one month before turning 18. "I thought I knew everything and got pregnant on purpose. I wanted to show my parents I knew what I was doing and could handle it," Nichols said earlier this week. Her first marriage, in which she and her husband got divorced, back together and divorced again, resulted in two children. She married her second husband, Chet, in 2003. When "The Baby Borrowers" producers found her MySpace page indicating that she had been a teen mom and contacted her to appear on the show, Nichols agreed. NBC says the families who came on the show did not get paid to appear.

The show was set up so that parents Natalie and Chet shared a house with two other parents a few houses away from where first Etta and later Benjamin stayed. All the houses had closed-circuit cameras in all the rooms except bathrooms and in the backyard. At the parent houses, moms and dads could watch their children 24/7 and intervene in the teen houses at their will. The parents watched out for each other's kids, such as when a parent needed a bathroom break. Off screen, the watching parents would sometimes scream at the television. The teens would be eating and not think to feed the babies. According to Nichols, the parents would be yelling, "Give [the baby] a bottle!"

Natalie describes not sleeping for the three days that Etta was with Sean and Kelsey. "It was harder with Etta being there than Benjamin," she said, "[Etta] was more needy so I had to really supervise." Because Natalie was nursing Etta at the time of the show, she was pumping and sending milk over to the teen house. As preparation for the show, Natalie and Chet had to make sure that Etta would take milk from a bottle.

On screen, the cameras show Etta crying for much of the episode, frustrating her young caretakers. Off screen, though, Natalie says Etta was happy during the day. Nighttime was a different story. Etta, normally a co-sleeper, wouldn't settle alone in a crib, so Sean had to stay up holding her all three nights. After several hours of watching the caregivers' frustration escalate, Natalie went over to have a little chat with Sean and Kelsey. After that, Natalie says, Sean stepped up and put Etta's needs ahead of his own.

So, what happened to Etta after the show? "You would have never known she had been there. She was not traumatized. It was like she made a new friend," said Natalie, who gave Sean a cast made from Etta's hand as a gift.

And the youth couples who underwent the experiment? They cried, they fought, and in the end, they all took a few extra steps toward adulthood.

Do you think reality TV such as this will make teens think twice about sex and the potential of having kids early? Do you know teens who will be watching?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  June 20, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Teens
Previous: Who's Harder to Raise? | Next: The Gloucester Girls

Comments


Were any of these kids breastfed on the show? If so, how was it handled?

Any nitwit who depends on parenting advice from "reality" shows or "celebrities" deserves what they get.

Darwinism takes its course...

Posted by: Boob tube nation | June 20, 2008 7:22 AM | Report abuse

"For that I turned to Natalie Nichols."

Explain.

Posted by: Curious | June 20, 2008 7:23 AM | Report abuse

"Nichols got married at age 17 and gave birth to her first son one month before turning 18. "

So Nichols learned how hard it was to raise a child. Nope. She gets back with her loser husband and has another kid!!!

And down the road she has 2 more kids from another husband!!!!

4 kids!!!! Is there some kind of world population shortage going on thet I missed in the papers? This woman didn't learn anything from "real life"!!!!!

And then she hands over some of her kids to a "reality" show!!!!!!


What are the education levels of the parents who let their kids participate in this program?

Posted by: Huh? | June 20, 2008 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone read the article in "Time" about the problem in Gloucester, MA with teenage pregnancy? Now, THAT is scary.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 20, 2008 8:00 AM | Report abuse

I think that it might be great birth control, but so can honest conversation! I can't imagine willingly "donating" my kids to reality tv, even for a few days.

Posted by: Momof5 | June 20, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Do you all read?

Curious: Stacey wrote, "What really prompts someone to hand their child over to reality television? And what was the experience on the set really like?

For that I turned to Natalie Nichols."

Boob tube nation asked, "Were any of these kids breastfed on the show? If so, how was it handled?"
Stacey wrote, "Because Natalie was nursing Etta at the time of the show, she was pumping and sending milk over to the teen house."

Posted by: RT | June 20, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

How in the world did these parents decide this would be a great thing to do??? The photo of the sobbing baby was horrible. They left their babies w/ perfect strangers who don't have the sense to feed them regularly???

When my DD's crying hard, I have to restrain myself of taking her, even if my DH is the one holding her - how on earth did these parents refrain from running next door as their kids freaked out?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 20, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

WorkingMom - I just wrote a long post about the events in Gloucester, if you're interested in reading more about it. http://karenrayne.com/2008/06/20/teenagers-whowant-to-have-a-babywtf/

Posted by: Karen Rayne | June 20, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Etta!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 20, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | June 20, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Wow, lots of judgemental people today. I think the show is a good idea, and we can be sure that at least the teenagers who participated won't be having kids too soon! Plus, there should also be a trickle down effect for all their friends and acquaintances. I'm a little dubious that enough unrelated people will watch to get the benefit of the lesson though.

As for what kind of people hand their kids over, probably the ones who think living next door, and observing the whole thing on video, and having the opportunity to intervene at will, minimizes the risk to the kids. Maybe they also wanted the chance to help some teenagers avoid making a huge mistake.

Finally, what kind of person condemns someone else for having 4 kids? That's amazingly judgmental for something that was entirely normal 1 generation ago (and still is normal is many parts of the country).

Posted by: annapolis, md | June 20, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I love the tag for this show: It's Not TV, It's Birth Control.

Every idiot teen who thinks that having a baby is 'cool' should have to go thru taking care of a real, living baby 24/7.

Posted by: Phillyfilly | June 20, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Why did they do this with real live babies? There is a teaching aid called 'Baby Think It Over' -- a doll that can be programmed to act like a real baby. Crying at odd intervals, programmed to detect when it has been smacked, dropped, or allowed to cry for longer than a minute. A local school did a project with a high school class and you can bet those kids will think twice before procreating. A neighbor kid was in the project and said 'boy, was that thing annoying!'

Posted by: Baby Think It Over | June 20, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I think ANY show that uses babies and children is repulsive. I am totally ashamedthat any parent would be so vulgar as to use their kids in a "reality" show that denigrates them

Posted by: disgusting | June 20, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I kind of like some reality shows. I think it's an interesting idea. I watch the one about the couple with 8 children. I don't think I'd ever do fertility treatments after seeing that!

I assume that even reality shows have to follow union rules on acting etc.... They're pretty strict as far as children are concerned. Don't they have to have a nurse/doctor on the set as well as someone to look out for the child, plus the hours are limited? So I just can't see how it would harm a child a bit more than a weekend at Grandma's.

Posted by: RoseG | June 20, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Interesting. I don't think I would hand my baby over to teenagers, especially for an experiment. Babies are not props. I personally think the parents who did this are irresponsible, even if the houses had cameras in every room and you could watch 24-7. Yelling at the tv, telling the kids to give the baby a bottle, doesn't do the baby any good. And in the end, caring for a baby is more than just changing her diapers and feeding her. Three days is a long time for a baby to be with strangers who don't love her, and who are just annoyed at her needs. I am appalled at the concept.

Posted by: Emily | June 20, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

This is going to be slightly off topic . . .

Karen, I find that you usu have something useful to offer discussions of sexuality and teens but not this time. I found your post to be more than a little defensive, and that tone pervades the entire post.

It is hard to not be judgmental when young girls make a decision so hugely stupid as a preganancy pact! One went so far to get pregnant by a 24 yo homeless man?!?! I'm sorry, but I don't think that there is anything to celebrate there. And a little bit of temporary scorn might just be a good thing. I'm sorry to sound harsh but in this day, 2008(!) that a girl would do this is beyond me.

Unfortunately, the ones that will suffer will be their children. Hopefully, they will be able to provide for them. I sincerely hope that they can/will.

One thing that stood out about your post to me (a bit of topic) was this:
"But what do much older moms-to-be say about why they want a baby? Oh, that's right, they're not asked. It's assumed that an older woman either has her reasons for wanting a baby or that it's rude to ask."

Maybe I'm misreading, but I think you are way off here in your overall point. It's usually assumed that older parents have the judgment and financial ability (whether that is true or not is another issue) to have a baby. That's why people are not asking "why did you decide to have a baby now." I certainly think it is fair to wonder it about a very young mother (though I would never ask the question). In fact, I know a very young woman who just had a baby (father unknown) and who had the baby but had NOTHING at home to prepare for the child. No diapers. No bottles. No crib. No clothes. No car seat. Just put it out of her mind. Yes, I did wonder WTF she was thinking. Sorry.

Posted by: JS | June 20, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I agree this is horrifying. The value it provides for other people is not worth the exploitation of these children.

Posted by: SJR | June 20, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I would never, ever do this to my baby. Young babies recognize their parents and depend on them for comfort in an emotional and mental way as well as for the care of their physical needs. Even if the teens could have or would have taken care of all physical needs, the babies would still suffer from the loss of emotional comfort that they get from just being held, talked to, played with, etc. by their parents.

The woman in the story says that her little girl was not traumatized. I think it may be too early to know that yet - it can take years for emotional trauma to surface.

Posted by: not my son | June 20, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Karen Rayne, I love how the end of that URL is "WTF." My thoughts exactly.

I never understood why single teen motherhood has been a badge of honor to which young teens aspire. When I was a teen, I worked in retail for years. I always said it was the best birth control I ever used. My boyfriend at the time worked in the toy department of a large department store, and he said the same thing.

People on these blogs often make fun of me for my attachment to my pets, and dismiss my opinions as frivolous because I don't have children. I use one to predict the other--for example, the dog frustrates me so much sometimes that I am absolutely certain I wouldn't be able to handle a child (and it's not even my dog--I only have 1/3 of the responsibility, so the "your husband will help out" argument doesn't work). When I travel, I worry that something will happen to the cats--an unreasonable concern, because they're the most low-maintenance pets I've ever had. If I have trouble traveling because I worry about the cats, I don't think I could hand my child over to a stranger, especially a teenager. Watching a couple of bratty teens eat while my kid goes hungry and ignored would be too much for me to handle.

Posted by: Mona | June 20, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it will make anyone any less likely to have sex, but hopefully it will make them more conscious about birth control and take the choice to procreate a little more seriously.

Posted by: Liz D | June 20, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I'd be reluctant to do this myself but I doubt the baby would be traumatized and I see no need to get self-righteous about it. Small babies obviously want to be with their parents but they have a very inexact sense of time and can't really tell whether mom's been gone for 3 hours or 3 days. And the parents were watching 24/7 which you can't do with a regular teen babysitter or even granny who might also be a bit inattentive. Also, I'm betting they snuck in at night to cuddle the babies off camera...reality TV is an oxymoron, after all.

Posted by: June 19 | June 20, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

to Anon at 2:06
Check out "The Science of Parenting," a book that explains the brain chemistry of babies and little kids and how experiences can change how their brains develop. It's this information that leads me to believe that these children probably experienced trauma by being handed off for days at a time to complete strangers. I think it would be different if the teens had been known to the babies - like the regular babysitter, or cousin or whatever.

Apologies if you found my comment "self-righteous" - I did not intend such a tone and still don't.

And yes, reality TV is not just an oxymoron, it's an actual moron too.

Posted by: not my son | June 20, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I've never been a huge fan of the "scared straight" kind of approach, because it's only half the equation. "Just say no" is useless when kids think they have nothing else to say yes to.

It was easy for me -- I'd go work 60 hrs/week at the deli, be too tired to do anything on my one day off, and think "I am SO glad I'm leaving for college." So I sure wasn't going to do anything that might get in the way of that and stick me at the deli permanently. But what happens when working at the deli is the best you think you can hope for? Why wait until later, if you think what you have now is all you'll ever get? A baby doesn't get in the way of your plans -- it becomes the plan, the one bright spot, someone who will always love you and give you big hugs and sloppy wet toddler kisses when you come home from that double shift. As much as actual parents might try to tell you what it's really like, a baby means that you matter.

Showing kids what parenting is really like is good. Giving kids the ability and knowledge to avoid getting pregnant is good. But it won't be enough unless they also have something even more compelling than having a baby to look forward to.

Posted by: Laura | June 20, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Laura,
How did you get to be so wise? I completely agree with you.

Posted by: Emily | June 20, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I didn't need to watch this stuff. One summer in high school I stayed with an aunt who had just foaled #5 (the oldest wasn't in school yet) as a mother's helper. That gave me a clear idea of what it's like to have kids. No, thank you very much. Days of endless feedings, cleaning up, diapers, more feedings, dressing, undressing, bathing, cleaning up, diapers, tantrums, toys all over the living room, diapers soaking in the bath tub. If I had a baby in high school my mother would have beaten the crap out of me and disowned me.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 20, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"How did you get to be so wise?"

LOL! But thanks. Honestly, growing up with a mom who had to deal with having a baby in college was a good start. And the deli and the college work study (Sunday 7 AM post-party cleanup shift) didn't hurt, either. :-)

Posted by: Laura | June 20, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I worked at a deli back in college too. I remember once, a well-dressed professional woman came in to get a sandwich, and was generally complaining about her stressful life. She told me that sometimes, she wished she could have a "menial" job like mine -- that it must be nice to have a job without stress.

I just remember thinking, "What a B." I thought waiting on people was plenty stressful and tiring. Good incentive to get an education. I think all kids should do a stint at a fast food joint, supermarket, or some other kind of retail. What an eye-opener.

Posted by: Emily | June 20, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

If I had a baby in high school my mother would have beaten the crap out of me and disowned me.

Posted by: | June 20, 2008 3:34 PM

*****

dingdingding - we have a WINNER! That's called parenting what your mother did. That's what my parents did too and I can say that my parents are directly responsible for the fact that I have an advanced degree, a professional job, a good marriage, a clean house, and a well behaved kid. Thanks Mom and Dad for threatening to beat my a$$.

Posted by: not my son | June 20, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

...quote..."Nichols got married at age 17 and gave birth to her first son one month before turning 18. "

So Nichols learned how hard it was to raise a child. Nope. She gets back with her loser husband and has another kid!!!

And down the road she has 2 more kids from another husband!!!!

4 kids!!!! Is there some kind of world population shortage going on thet I missed in the papers? This woman didn't learn anything from "real life"!!!!!

And then she hands over some of her kids to a "reality" show!!!!!!

What are the education levels of the parents who let their kids participate in this program?
Posted by: Huh? | June 20, 2008 7:34 AM ...end quote...

I am not sure if I am allowed to, but I would like to address this comment. You have no idea how right you are in your assessment of me and what I learned...at the time. I should have had so many lightbulb moments in my young life, but I was too young and dumb to recognize them. I was too stubborn and proud to admit that I'd made a mistake. Which is precisely why I want to use my experiences in life, and the mistakes that went along with that, in any way that they can benefit others. If I just screwed up in my life and hid that from my kids, they would likely follow suit. Ignorance breeds ignorance. However I don't live that way. I don't hide any of the mistakes that I've made. They are worth nothing if my kids can't learn from them. So this experiment will serve to teach my daughter years down the road. If it can also help to teach your daughter and your neighbors' daughters, then all the better.

Regarding the education levels of the participants... Again, you nailed it. My husband, the father of Ben and Etta, has a Masters degree (with a Bachelors in Behavoral Sciences), however I am still getting my education, when I can fit it into my life as a busy mom. But what you are failing to recognize is that THIS is one of the things I would like to help other impressionable young girls realize as well. As smart as I was, I still put my own life on hold, including my education and never turned into the person I should have been. If even one young girl gets to realize her dreams due to hearing about the mistakes that I made, then at least it wasn't in vain. I've already made the mistakes as a teen mother/wife. I can't change that fact. I can, however, use those mistakes in a positive way. I am not defensive about any of the negative assumptions that people made because a lot of it is true of me at that age. And it's the same reason so many young girls tend to get pregnant. The only way it will stop is if they realize the realities of young parenting and it stops being so sugar-coated. More parents than not had premarital sex, although you will be hard pressed to find those who admit it to their children. So as parents when we look at teens and tell them, "Don't have sex, you could get pregnant" it is just heard as us preaching. This experiment takes the authoritarian aspect away and just gives them a chance to view parenting as it really would be, in fast forward.

Just for the record, every participant in this experiment underwent psychological evaluation and thorough background checks prior to any involvement in the filming (teens, babies, kids, parents).

Posted by: Natalie | June 20, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

yay Natalie!

Posted by: va_liz | June 20, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

The concept of this show is all well and good in theory, but I really don't think it will deter any teens from engaging in sexual activity.

I'm disgusted by the mom that was interviewed. She willingly allowed her children to be used as reality show props and acknowledged in her comment that it was experimental. Her children will probably grow to resent her. My heart breaks for that baby in the video. She looked so lonely and sad. She was probably wondering what she did to deserve that. I don't care whether the parents are stationed next door and watching everything on camera, their is no substitute for mommy and daddy.

People will do anything for fame.

Posted by: repulsed | June 20, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I would like to add that I do not see this as anything harmful to the children. Allowing these teens to look after the children was no different than babysitters, nannies, dayscares, etc. Well, except for the fact that they were constantly monitored by their parents, professional nannies, the production crew, a psychiatrist and more. None, other than the parents, were able to step in unless something detrimental to the welfare of a child was involved. I don't think you can get that type of supervision from your local daycare provider.

As far as the time frame is concerned (3 nights max), it is no different than a single (sometimes both) parent who has to leave their children behind due to job related travel, emergencies, and the like. One might say that the children are often cared for by grandparents, friends, relatives, etc. Yes, but the children did not come into the world knowing these people.

The bottom line is this, I would do this again in a hearbeat. We were there, we saw everything. We saw the care, the preperation, we saw the safety precautions, we saw it all. No matter what you see on the screen, we saw how the children were cared for. Even today, nearly a year later, Benjamin see's Sean and Kelsey's picture and smiles and says "That's my Kelsey!" Etta kisses Sean's picture.

Were my children affected by their stay on the set? You bet! They found comfort, when needed, in the arms of two teenagers. Remember, you see about 72 hours worth of events tied up in one, one hour episode. Regardless of what you see on the show, there was a lot of bonding, care and playing going on.

As far as the comment about my wife's "loser ex-husband"...the guy stayed around as a teen father and did his best to take care of his kids. Save the loser label for the one's who have, and will in the future, jump ship!

Posted by: Chet, Natalie's Husband | June 20, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

The concept of this show is all well and good in theory, but I really don't think it will deter any teens from engaging in sexual activity.

I'm disgusted by the mom that was interviewed. She willingly allowed her children to be used as reality show props and acknowledged in her comment that it was experimental. Her children will probably grow to resent her. My heart breaks for that baby in the video. She looked so lonely and sad. She was probably wondering what she did to deserve that. I don't care whether the parents are stationed next door and watching everything on camera, their is no substitute for mommy and daddy.

People will do anything for fame.

Posted by: repulsed | June 20, 2008 5:37 PM

***************


WAKE UP AND GET OUT OF FANTASY LAND!!!!

I have seen some of the video's on NBC, and I hardley see any of this and something for fame!

I guess in your world, babies never cry and act sad in the arms of their parents.

I think this is brillant. I only wish enough parents were strong enough to knowingly open themselves up to criticism and place their dirty laundry in the public eye, an attempt to help others.

Repulsed, and all the others passing judgement, what have you done lately to make this world a better place and help someone make better choices in life...at your own expense?

I applaud these parents!!!!!

I am a Christian, Teacher, Wife, Mother of three, with a Doctrine in Child Psychology.

Posted by: psych mom | June 20, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

I don't think I could have handed either of my children over like this, but that's about me, not the teens or the parents who participated. I have left my kids with babysitters, and one was a (very well-known and trusted) teen.

Maybe by the third or forth kid it gets a little easier to be a relaxed parent. My mother kept me, her first child, with her all the time. By the time she had her forth baby, she was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom at the back of the house and my baby brother was in a downstairs bedroom at the front. He had to cry *really* loud to wake her at night, little 'eh eh' whimpers wouldn't carry that far.

And I thought babies didn't really recognize strangers as being strangers until they were something like 18 months, so a 6-month-old shouldn't have been upset or traumatized by being cared for by people other than the parents.

I wouldn't have been able to do what Natalie and Chet did, but I don't think they were wrong, or bad parents. And I think their goal of discouraging teen pregnancies, is a noble one.

Posted by: Sue | June 20, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

I have read this blog and the responses by Natalie and Chet.

I have utmost admiration for the way both have reacted with class to the negative comments. I was especially impressed with Chet's defense of Natalie's first husband. Too many of us expect teens to act with the same maturity as adults. Natalie and her first husband made mistakes, but did their best to move forward. As Chet said, many people would just walk away.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 20, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Baby Think It Over-
Are you kidding me? I took that class in high school and it doesn't even COME CLOSE to caring for a real baby 24/7. You can roll over and go back to sleep and ignore the fake baby's cries b/c all that will happen is a bad grade. Do you have kids? B/c it seems that if you did you would know that it is nothing like it.

Posted by: momof2 | June 21, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure how effective the show will be at preventing teen pregnancy but it will most definitely be entertaining. Clueless teens watching kids equals instant hilarity. Maybe it will have some educational merit but I'll watch either way.

Posted by: PunkyPower | June 21, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

its just entertainment. I don't think this show will have a social impact, I don't think TV really has that power, but it will be entertaining.

Posted by: Think86 | June 21, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

No way would I put my kid on this show! This is just tv at it's lowest.

Posted by: Baby Riot | June 21, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I think every parent with a teenage son or daughter should watch this show with their kid especially if they are sexually active. Discuss safe sex and contraception with your kids. The parents need to get involved in their kids lives.

Posted by: MegHugz | June 21, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

This is so sad!

Posted by: Carrie | June 21, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Wow, people are really overreacting to this show. I saw one person comparing this show to the Milgram experiment and Nazis.

Posted by: Just Deal | June 22, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Who compared NBC to Nazis? Thats just insane. Wow. People need to chill out. It's just a TV show. If you feel that strongly, dont watch. I know I will be though.

Posted by: Kellie | June 22, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

My best guy friend and his girlfriend are going to be having a little girl this fall. I wish programs like The Baby Borrowers were on before he was in this situation. It would offer him a chance to see what he's up against at his age and how fast he would be forced to grow up. June 25th, hopefully he'll be watching.

Posted by: sassykm11 | June 22, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I wish all teens in high school could watch this show. I am thinking of showing it to my nieces. I am looking forward to the 25th!
http://www.nbc.com/The_Baby_Borrowers/video/#mea=258876

Posted by: Lori | June 22, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

The Milgram experiments used volunteers. This show uses infants and toddlers who are not capable of volunteering. Why would any of the parents exploit their children by handing them over to strangers? Parenting can't be done by remote viewing. I don't see how the parents could watch the television screen 24 hours a day.

The mother who was interviewed for this story said her baby was a co-sleeper. It must have been traumatic for the baby to be forced to changed her sleeping routine and sleep in a crib, be cared for by two strangers and have regular breastfeeding taken away from her all at once. It wasn't an emergency requiring the sudden changes. It was the filming of a tv show and it doesn't seem worth the trauma.

Posted by: realityfan | June 22, 2008 9:19 PM | Report abuse

...quote...The Milgram experiments used volunteers. This show uses infants and toddlers who are not capable of volunteering. Why would any of the parents exploit their children by handing them over to strangers? Parenting can't be done by remote viewing. I don't see how the parents could watch the television screen 24 hours a day.

The mother who was interviewed for this story said her baby was a co-sleeper. It must have been traumatic for the baby to be forced to changed her sleeping routine and sleep in a crib, be cared for by two strangers and have regular breastfeeding taken away from her all at once. It wasn't an emergency requiring the sudden changes. It was the filming of a tv show and it doesn't seem worth the trauma.

Posted by: realityfan | June 22, 2008 9:19 PM ...end quote...

Realityfan, you say that you don't see how we were able to watch the tv for 24 hours for 3 days. I guess that is a fair assumption for someone who doesn't have children. But in reality, throughout my life, there have been numerous instances with my children which caused me to stay awake for extended periods. I have watched them for days on end if they were hospitalized, or even just ill at home. As new parents, we go for days sometimes without sleeping. With Etta in particular, she had severe reflux and spent 4 days in the hospital as a newborn, and as a result went home with an apnea monitor and cpr training for both my husband and myself. I don't think I have to explain that neither of us slept for that entire week after suctioning her until the ambulance arrived. It is not unheard of for parents to be so concerned for their childrens' well-being that they put their own needs on the back burner, including sleep. I was much less on the edge of my seat with Benjamin during his stay, so when he slept, I slept.

Yes, Etta was a co-sleeper, and it was traumatic for her during the few hours that the teens were attempting to get her to sleep alone in a crib. However as new parents we don't get manuals with our babies letting us know which of them will require that close interaction and which ones will prefer some alone time. I know that I had to figure these things out as a teen parent, and Sean and Kelsey needed to do the same. I should also add that even co-sleeping with me, Etta woke up frequently, nursed, and went back to sleep. After my conversation with Sean and Kelsey, Sean took that role, and Etta slept. Granted she did not sleep in a crib, but she slept in his arms, which is where she wanted to be in the first place. I don't think that was traumatizing to her, I think she quite enjoyed her new friend.

In addition, Etta did not have regular breastfeeding taken away from her. Unfortunately you will never hear Sean describing to the other teens on the block how he "breastfed" Etta a few minutes before. He held her and stroked her face and spoke softly to her, just as I did, and I would venture to guess that she felt just as comforted, only in a different way.

No, there was no emergency that forced us to leave Etta or Benjamin with teenagers. But the teen pregnancy epidemic is an emergency, and a problem that no one has been able to rectify. This show actually has the potential to open eyes and change lives. The few tears that Etta shed during the filming were no more than she would have shed if I had decided to be a working mom. No, that wouldn't have been an emergent situation either, but no one would be publicly branding me repulsive for that choice. The major difference is that her tears at a daycare wouldn't have prevented her (in her teens) or anyone else from taking the same path that I did. So I do think that it was worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Posted by: Natalie | June 22, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

The thing that surprises me is that the teens didn't, at least from this clip, seem like they'd been taught what to do ahead of time. I mean, I knew what to expect as a new parent when I had my daughter, but it was still hard work, especially when you're not used to it. The conversation between the two parents that we saw--was that Sean and Kelsey?--was something that almost all new parents face. The baby won't stop crying. You've done everything that you can to make sure her needs are met (maybe not in Kelsey and Sean's case, but I'm just saying that it happens even when that's true), but she's still crying. Do you stay up and rock with her, but maybe develop a habit where she can only sleep when rocked? Do you let her cry? What do you do? Even if the teens had had some training beforehand so that they gave the baby the best possible care, I still think there would be issues for the show to deal with, but without quite so much traumatization to the kids and viewers rolling their eyes about the clueless teens.

Honestly, though, I think this show seems to be reaching for the wrong side of the equation. I'm not sure if the teens on the show are already living together or not necessarily, but I don't think that putting them together for three weeks and seeming to accept that they're sleeping together is the right way about it. Maybe for a few weeks after the show they'll be a bit more careful about birth control. Maybe. But birth control isn't perfect, and mistakes happen. Teens are pretty fertile. And then, regardless of lessons learned, a baby is on the way. I just don't think that we can expect teens to be in committed, sexual relationships but expect them to avoid having children for years. Teaching them the *right* way to care for kids, instead of shoving them in a house and letting them make a zillion mistakes on live television, and then telling them that they shouldn't be in a sexual relationship until they're ready for marriage and kids and everything that goes along with that, is a better choice.

Posted by: Sarah | June 23, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

What is wrong with you people. I know Chet and Natalie and two more loving,caring, devoted parents you will not find. The children were never ever in danger and they watched everything like a hawk.

I have had to leave my children far longer than these two have for various reasons just as many others have to include our military members away on assignment. Neither of these children will have be traumatized by this because they know they are truly loved by their parents. I can see them in future years laughing at themselves when they watch the show. Go Ben!

If they can keep one person from getting pregnant while a teenager, then God Bless Them.

I for one can't wait to watch the show and I now understand that some schools will be showing this in their sex education classes. Good for them.

Posted by: Shelley | June 23, 2008 11:08 PM | Report abuse

I just wanted to give kudos to Natalie and Chet for their thoughtful responses to the comments (some extremely harsh) on this post. Not all of us are able to be so honest with ourselves, and I don't think I would have been nearly as gracious in my response. (Certainly I don't think I could have been so thoughtful and fair in an assessment of Natalie's first husband the way Chet was!) I hope you achieve your goal of helping teens avoid teen pregnancy through your story, and your courageous ability to take your past troubles and turn them into something good.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 24, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

psych mom:

"I am a Christian, Teacher, Wife, Mother of three, with a Doctrine in Child Psychology."

Only one of these labels is appropriately capitalized, and hopefully what you have is a *doctorate* in child psychology. Yikes.

Posted by: murf | June 25, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

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