The second season of Teen Mom wrapped this week with the "Check-in with Dr. Drew" finale episode, when Dr. Drew makes the teen moms feel uncomfortable and typically tries to get them to admit they regret having their children -- though last night, Dr. Drew did a lot more counseling and offered a lot more sound advice than usual. Of course, he still made all the teen moms cry.
Most of the topics that the finale show covered are topics that I've discussed before, so I think instead I'll highlight in snippets the good advice that Dr. Drew had and the telling statements that the teen moms made.
Idealizing a relationship
People often romanticize relationships that are or were not exactly great -- the memories are skewed or selective, and this romanticizing keeps people connected to or in unhealthy relationships -- but Farrah's relationship with her ex, Derrick, is a lot more complicated than the typical scenario because Derrick passed away. Those memories are all she has left of Derrick, and it seems both her and her mom have different memories of their relationship.
Dr. Drew point blank asked if she was romanticizing the relationship, and she denied that, saying, "I'm not painting a picture that's rosy, I know what the realistic picture was." Obviously losing him, especially with his being the father of Sophia, has left her devastated and she only wants to remember him in a positive light -- but perhaps being more open and willing to deal with all the aspects of their relationship might help her grieving process.
The art of mind reading
Dr. Drew asked Maci and Kyle to talk about why they liked each other, and he said they could either tell him directly or they could tell each other. Both agreed to tell Dr. Drew instead of each other, which prompted the obvious question of why they couldn't just look at each other and say those things. "We like show each other how we feel, but we don't talk about it," Maci told Dr. Drew.
Having mushy discussions all the time about why you like each other is understandably something many couples avoid -- but you can't avoid it all the time. A lot of people in relationships expect that their partner will know they appreciate, care about, enjoy the company of the other person -- but actually verbalizing those things can make a world of difference. Showing rather than telling is important, but if you assume the other person always knows how you feel, it can transcend to topics beyond just lovey-dovey things -- you start to assume the other person knew you wanted them to clean the bathroom; you assume the other person knew you didn't want to go to that restaurant, etc. Being able to verbalize feelings to the other person is essential in any relationship.
Abuse doesn't have to be physical
Something Dr. Drew highlighted that I really liked was when Catelynn's mom, April, was reacting to Catelynn saying she would treat Carly different than her mom treats her. Upon hearing Catelynn say this stuff, April started clapping for her and mimed a halo being over Catelynn's head. "When you call somebody a bitch and it's your daughter, or you demean them with the halo stuff, that's called abuse -- it's emotional abuse," Dr Drew told April.
I'm glad he pointed this out, because abuse so often is only taken seriously if it's physical or extremely offensive verbally. People pay attention when April is calling her own daughter a bitch -- they might not even flinch at April putting a halo over Catelynn's head, though it's still April trying to break down her daughter. This kind of bullying, the little comments and jabs that are often overlooked because they aren't overt and obvious, might seem harmless, but enough of it can really take a toll on someone.
Like mother, like daughter
A few times, Dr. Drew brought up that the way parents act directly influences how their children act. "[April's] aggression is damaging, and if Catelynn had become a mom, she wouldn't have really known any other way of dealing with those feelings," Dr. Drew said. Catelynn might've taken out her frustration on Carly just like April makes a habit of using Catelynn as her own personal verbal punching bag.
He said the same thing to Amber, when he discussed how Leah will be affected by her domestic violence. He reminded both Gary and Amber that they came from violent homes and that Amber likely learned this behavior growing up, and then discussed how Amber had to take care of herself growing up (was "paternalized") because of the fighting. "Her seeing you guys fighting, feeling the chaos -- is that what you were exposed to as a kid?" Dr. Drew asked Amber. "It's like the cycle repeating itself, right?"
He reminded them that kids are perceptive, and they know what is going on. Leah even tries to separate Gary and Amber if she sees them hugging, because she has learned that as parents, they are not meant to be affectionate -- they are meant to fight with each other. If the violence continues, she could easily be conditioned to think that Moms just hit Dads -- that it's normal and it's perfectly acceptable to do.
Calling the cops on a companion
Dr. Drew brought up a very good point -- why didn't Gary ever call the police after Amber would hit him? "I don't call the police because I don't want to -- I don't want to get [Amber] in trouble," Gary replied. Dr. Drew made one of the best points of the night when he explained that, even though you don't want to get them in trouble, you need to change the behavior somehow -- the person won't change unless there are serious consequences to certain behaviors.
He likened it to drug addiction and when family and friends enable behavior by giving the addict a place to stay, giving the addict money, etc., and never going through with threats, e.g. to cut the person off financially if they don't get clean. In much the same way, Amber will not be motivated to change her behavior unless there are serious consequences otherwise -- Gary tries to use taking the baby or calling social services as a threat, but if Amber knows he won't ever do those things, she is less likely to actually change her abusive behavior. Some might argue that you don't do those things to someone you love, but doing those things will ideally help that person improve their quality of life -- how is letting that person spiral out of control a better way to show your love?
Struggling with self-worth
Amber brought up an interesting point when it comes to her love life -- which is that dating other people makes her feel less guilty about the way she treats Gary as long as those other people match her own view of herself -- she thinks she is a bad person, therefore she dates not-so-great people. This self-image is something a lot of people struggle with, and it leaves people in unhealthy relationships because they convince themselves they don't deserve any better. Perhaps this is why Amber is so degrading to Gary -- she doesn't want him to feel like he deserves any better, either.
"You're a good guy so she feels bad, they are bad guys so she feels better," Dr. Drew told Gary. But this mentality also keeps Amber from making any real efforts at changing -- if she surrounds herself with people who aren't great people, who is there to inspire or motivate or support her growth from an abusive and angry person into a nonabusive and calmer person? Who you surround yourself with really does have an effect on the choices you make.
Thank you for being a friend -- NOT
There's a time and a place for parents and their kids to be friends, and during their high school years is not the time for that. Catelynn and Tyler somehow got to be extremely mature growing up with April and Butch (Tyler's dad and April's husband) -- likely forced to by the circumstances of their upbringing (Catelynn's mom is an alcoholic, Tyler's dad is a cocaine addict who has been in jail most of Tyler's life). Last night Catelynn and Tyler both expressed concern over how April didn't have many friends and how sad it made them.
"They're kids, they need a mom -- they can't be your friends," Dr. Drew told April. Going along with the previous entry about how you are motivated by the people you surround yourself with, Dr. Drew suggested she go to treatment or a 12-step program where she could meet friends who understand the struggles April is facing in fighting alcoholism and who will support her, not enable her. Kids can't offer adults that kind of support, especially when they are equally in need of support and guidance from their parents.