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BABY BORROWERS: Reunion, talk show, smackdown?

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It was hard to tell just what NBC was trying to accomplish with “Baby Borrowers: Lessons Learned,” a town hall-style discussion. The show spent a lot of time rehashing ground already covered, when, let’s face it, those of us watching were the ones around for most of this televised experiment. After that, NBC tossed a lot at us. First up, we got recaps and updates with the teens, followed by the borrowed kids’ parents. The show’s producer almost got into a smackdown with a child psychologist lamenting the damage suffered by the children who were “forced” to participate. Then came a flash Q&A session with teen parents from the Massachusetts high school where 18 formed a pregnancy pact (oh wait, they say they didn’t know about any pact until they heard about it on the news). Next up, we had NBC selling us on the idea of Hollywood influencing teen pregnancy — oh what a network will do to drop Angelina Jolie’s name. And in the final 60 seconds, we got to see the teens reunite with the babies. Yep, blink and you missed it.

So, what did we learn? Don’t let NBC try to turn entertainment — or is it an educational program? (the root of that almost smackdown) — into a primetime talk show segment. Today Show host and town hall moderator Hoda Kotb spent the first 15 minutes so focused on the three teen couples sitting to her right that it became painfully obvious how much she was ignoring the other two. Let’s face it, those of us who love the show wanted to know one thing: were the couples together or separated? And the answer …?

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Posted on Thursday, August 7th, 2008
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BABY BORROWERS: Who’s still together, who’s apart?

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As finales go, “Baby Borrowers” looked like a snoozefest. Sure, it had a few zany one-liners and heaping teaspoonfuls of sentimental moments, but on the entertainment front, it lacked punch. Until the Where Are They Now snippets rolled.

In a word: stunning. Rock solid, relatively mature Jordan and Sasha — split. Vastly improved Alicea and Cory — separated. Sweet Kelsey and Sean — kaput. Which of the teen “parents” are still kind of together? The two least-likely-to-last couples.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
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BABY BORROWERS: Teen quits, another rises to occasion

The Baby BorrowersSo long Daton, and frankly, good riddance. Neither he nor Morgan showed the maturity needed to be a couple, let alone parents, in the “Baby Borrowers,” but his behavior was way out of line. He was downright cruel to Morgan, saying she would look better without makeup, calling her a “bitch” and dropping the hate word with too much ease. Poor teen Eddie looked extremely uncomfortable watching his “teen parents” break-up within an hour of showing up on their doorstep.

But major props to Morgan. Instead of bailing on the experiment, she decided to stick it out as a “single” mom. She planned to live up to her commitment. And for the first time, she not only showed real maturity, she actually showed glimpses of being a true mom. When Eddie took part in the contrived t-p of the court, she was all over him in a disappointed but not over-the-top angry manner. Even better, she finally called her mom to apologize for her juvenile behavior during their surprise visit back during the baby episode. If this episode was any indication, she’s a much better person without Daton. It was great to see her finally turn the corner, especially because not every couple fared so well.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
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BABY BORROWERS: Sleepover for nine

The Baby BorrowersMy ragging on Alicea is officially over, at least for now. After the baby round on “Baby Borrowers,” I pegged her as hopelessly deficient. Ever since, she has come around nicely. Last week, she showed real promise with toddler Isaiah. This week, she really shined with pre-teen Hannah the “drama queen.” Alicea opted to ignore Hannah’s temper tantrum — and instinctively, I would have done the same. Hannah’s mom, Leslie, had another tact so she intervened, suggesting Alicea engage the child in some sort of activity.

I braced myself for the meltdown. The last time someone dared to challenge Little Miss Know It All, she essentially gave up on her parenting duties. But surprise, surprise, Alicea handled the constructive criticism with some maturity. Ditto Cory. When Hannah locked him out of the house, he put her in timeout. She threw yet another tantrum but Cory found a way to outlast her. Love the “I’m sorry” letter Hannah pushed under the door. And his rewarding her with a popsicle — nice parenting move. But still, I wondered if this couple could truly make it when the sleepover edict arrived.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 16th, 2008
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BABY BORROWERS: Immaturity rears ugly head

NUP_110016_0028Wow, what happened to Sasha? Last week, she was calm, cool and collected. Or maybe she just got lucky in the baby draw. In episode three of “Baby Borrowers” everything tipped upside down. She and Jordan landed 2-year-old Luke, who promptly cried himself crazy for 20 solid minutes. As Sasha quipped, “We only have him for three days.”

But those three days completely undid her. The frustration really popped when Luke’s mom declared, “Overall, you did not do well.” Sasha lost it. She yelled. She tossed out curse words. Her temper ignited so hot, Jordan had to literally drag her from the living room where the stunned mom sat. Was Luke’s mom harsh? Maybe a little — but what’s become clear with this show is just how incapable these teens (especially the “teen moms”) are at handling any sort of criticism. Which is just further proof that they have no business having babies.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
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BABY BORROWERS Real parents sound off

NUP_110013_0091The parents of NBC’s “Baby Borrowers” are fighting back. Even before the show aired last month, critics slammed the parents who allowed their children to be “raised” for three days by teen couples. Now, NBC has taken the rare step of creating a special forum for participants in a reality TV show. The forum is designed specifically so the parents can share their experience and respond to critics. (Click here to see the forum.)

The posts from parents are quite enlightening. Take this one from Danaka Wagner, parent of 3-year-old Isaiah, who will appear in tonight’s episode. Alicea and Cory — who as a couple bombed badly with their borrowed baby — minded Isaiah. And for her part, Wagner has no regrets about allowing her child to participate. She even wrote, “While watching from the outside I was able to appreciate some of the small moments in my child’s life that we usually rush right thru.”

Natalie Nichols, mother of baby Etta and toddler Benjamin, has answered her critics before on morning talk shows. Her post reveals even more about how she ended up a teen mom and why “Baby Borrowers” serves as an important message to other teens who think of following her lead. She writes, “Looking back now, as a happily re-married 31 year old mother of 4, I realize that I didn’t know a thing about love and I didn’t do a very good job, by my standards, of being anyone’s mom then. I wish that someone had been able to get through to me at that time in my life.”

Critics and fans of this show definitely should drop in on the forum. It’s quite intriguing.

Posted on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
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BABY BORROWERS: Grow up, Alicea!

NUP_110013_0041Alicea makes me want to reach through the TV screen and shake her silly. Episode 2 of “Baby Borrowers” was a major redemption for Kelly but a continued backsliding for Alicea. Morgan wasn’t exactly a peach either, not because she showed poor mothering skills but because of her poor daughter skills.

I’m skipping ahead. Let’s stick with Alicea for a moment, because boy does she need an attitude adjustment. Alicea was still smarting from the talk-down she got from Karson’s real mom in the last episode (remember — she told a fussy Karson that he could starve when he wouldn’t eat right away). Alicea had written off the child because she couldn’t stand Karson’s mom, essentially leaving her boyfriend, Cory to take care of EVERYTHING. Wanting nothing to do with the baby, she went off to work and promptly moaned about getting blisters at the lumber yard. Clearly, this girl can’t take criticism. Back at home, she refused to help with the baby, so Cory spent a hard, sleepless night going solo. He certainly hit the nail on the head when he said, “I have two babies now, one big one, one little one.”

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Posted on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
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BABY BORROWERS: Babies emotionally damaged?

NUP_110013_0066Criticism and praise for NBC’s “Baby Borrowers” is pretty evenly split in the week since the reality TV show’s debut. The show takes would-be teen parents and pairs them with babies, toddlers, pre-teens, teenagers and elderly “parents” for three days each to give them a firsthand education in parenting. Here’s a statement from one of the show’s critics, J. Ronald Lally, a founder and current member of the Board of Directors of “ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants Toddlers and their Families.”

I would like to share our organizations thoughts on a recent addition to the NBC lineup of shows “Baby Borrowers.” This ill conceived idea will not only do harm to the babies used as guinea pigs in the show but model just the opposite of how babies should be treated. “Hello NBC!! There is a human being exposed to emotional damage here!!

Lally is co-director of the Center for Child & Family Studies West Ed in San Francisco. He’s one of many experts in the field of child development. On the flip side, I don’t have any degrees or experience in any studies on child development. My opinion comes more from everyday life experience — and four years of working at daycare centers while studying in college. Yet, even with limited experience, I have to wonder if the uproar is justified.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
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BABY BORROWERS: Bring on the belly, then baby

NUP_110013_0150“Baby Borrowers,” reality TV’s lesson in parenthood for five teen couples, has me torn. The five teenage couples on the show are contemplating parenthood, so the TV experiment has set them up in houses where they will spend a few days raising babies, toddlers, pre-teens, teens and elderly “parents.” With statistics showing less than half of teen parents stay together and even fewer manage to stay off welfare, I came into the new series rooting for temporary parenthood to knock some sense into these teens. Yet, one episode in and I find myself secretly rooting for a few of them. But not all. Definitely not all of them.

Fact is, almost every teen on the show needs a swift reality check. The immaturity level has spiked clear off the chart. The only exception, perhaps, is Sean. He agreed to the experiment to show his girlfriend, Kelsey, that she’s not ready to be a parent. Smart, except at times he seemed a little too bent on her failing and passing off “parenthood” with a few jokes (more on that in a minute). Not so smart are Kelly and her boyfriend, Austin. Why does she think she’s ready for parenthood? “Because I love kids,” she told the audience. Oh sweetie, love alone isn’t going to get you through sleepless nights, dirty diapers, puking kids and the harsh reality of what it costs — financially, physically and emotionally — to raise a child. And ironically enough, she couldn’t even get through one day of “pregnancy.”

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Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
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BABY BORROWERS: Much needed lesson on teen parenthood

logoThe provocative and somewhat controversial new reality show “Baby Borrowers” hits NBC tonight at 9 p.m. Tongues started wagging — mine included — even before the episodes were released to anyone for viewing. The premise: Take five teenage couples contemplating parenthood and give them a first-hand, albeit fast-tracked, look at raising real babies, toddlers, preteens, teens and even elderly “parents.” The shock value: Real babies! What parents would actually allow their living and breathing children to be part of a televised experiment? Believe me, that idea left me unsettled, too. Feeding, bathing and watching babies 24-7 for three straight days isn’t exactly babysitting.

But in the months since learning about “Baby Borrowers,” I changed my tune in a hurry. Jamie Lynn Spears got pregnant (and had her baby). “Juno” became a major hit, putting teenage pregnancy boldly in front of adults and teens alike. And recently, news hit about a possible pact between teenage girls at a Massachusettes high school that resulted in 17 of them getting pregnant. Maybe it’s time to find a way to smack teens over the head with this very serious issue. What about the well beings of five babies placed at the center of a reality TV show? Well, what about the well beings of all those babies born to teen parents each and every day? Maybe the only way to reach teens is through reality TV, even if the reality is skewed.

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Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
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