Thursday, December 20, 2007
Jamie Lynn spurs a father-daughter talk
--Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent



I am among the billions of people on planet Earth who have more pressing concerns than the pregnancy of 16 year-old Jamie Lynn Spears. But like many other parents I suspect, the topic of this teen star dominated my morning, as my 10 year old daughter, and I had THE discussion.

" Have you heard about Britney's sister?" , I asked Samantha who enjoys they 16-year old's TV show.

"Yes Daddy", she said.
So I asked her what her feelings were about it.
Samantha told me she thought Jamie Lynn will have to be off her show for nine months.

I explained to my little girl it's a bit more complex than that, that when an adult gets pregnant, she often works very close to her delivery date, and then may take a few months off, and come back to her job.

But Jamie Lynn, I told her, is a different situation. Nickleodeon, I explained, has to decide if she will even be able to keep her job, because I assured Samantha the cable network never had plans to have episodes with Jamie Lynn informing the world's adoring child viewers that she is expecting a baby.

I also told my daughter that in my humble fatherly opinion, the Spears sisters are demonstrating to their adoring public that they are "role model" challenged, and although they are sometimes entertaining, it would not be great to be inspired by Jamie Lynn's or Birtney's behavior.

My daughter seemed to accept my commentary, and agreed to keep me informed about the discussion around the 5th grade "water cooler." I'm sure we will talk more about this, particularly after Samantha sees or hears about mother-to-be Jamie Lynn on the cover of OK magazine, a cover story, that surprise, I'm not particularly OK with.

Call me old fashioned, but beating the publicity drum about this doesn't strike me as particularly tasteful.
Posted By CNN: 9:50 AM ET
  9 Comments
Gary,
I just hope that most parents out there will be like you and actually talk to their kids about this instead of letting them get their info from the media! It's bad enough that most parents avoid THE talk and put it off on the schools to do! I think that is the problem and that is why the teen pregnancy rate is going up! The parents are too involved in their jobs or their social lives and put their kids way down at the bottom of the "to do" list. So the kids just run amok!

As far as Spears goes I think they need to can the show! I wouldn't want any of my pre-teen or teen family members looking up to her or trying to emulate her!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 10:13 AM ET
Gary,

Although I am not a parent I think you handled the situation well; it sounds like you have a great relationship with your children.

This and the recent baseball scandal are perfect examples why it is a bad idea for celebrities and sports figures to be role models.

Although I noticed that 360 stayed away from this story yesterday; it was everywhere else! No matter how many times I changed the channel it was there. Sooner or later even 360 will be forced to cover it.

I guess what they say is true; there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Jo Ann
North Royalton, Ohio
Posted By Blogger Jo Ann : 10:20 AM ET
Gary,

As the mother of two daughters who successfully matriculated to responsible adulthood without subjecting their father or me to the antics of the Spears girls, (or earning our family millions), thank you for sharing. Please keep us posted on that fifth grade water cooler. As a parent, you are on the front lines of a battle that is as fierce as any you will cover for CNN. And you are one cool dad to face this head on and discuss this with your daughter right from the get go.

Charlotte D, Stockton CA
Posted By Blogger Charlotte : 10:49 AM ET
I think you handled the situation very well Gary. It's scary to think that young girls look up to celebrities as role models and even scarier to realize that these role models don't even know the consequences of their behavior.

I think there is something to be said about people who sell their personal lives to the front cover of a tabloid magazine. The scary part is, this is only the beginning of the Jamie Lynn saga.
Posted By Anonymous Kim, New York : 11:01 AM ET
I'd like to humbly apologize for all the bad thoughts I had for Lindsay Lohan's, Paris Hilton's, Jessica Simpson's, and all the other pop tartlet's mothers for thinking they were bad parents. They at least had the sense to teach their kids the birds and bee's/safe sex and none of their kids got pregnant at 16. All this time Lynn Spears was protrayed as the perfect stage mom, now we all know better.
Posted By Anonymous Kelly, San Francisco : 11:02 AM ET
When you think of OK magazine and the Spears family tasteful doesn'
t exactly come to mind. When I was her age Britney had just broke out onto the charts with her new "risky" persona. After a while the only mention of her around the "5th grade water cooler" was how much you wouldn't want to be like her. You can only hope kids now will feel the same way about Jamie Lynn.
Posted By Anonymous Kayle : 11:03 AM ET
Gary,
I don't think your being old fashioned about this, or maybe I'm just old fashioned too.
Anyway, I don't think that this magazine should have put her on the cover with this story. I think that it could give young girls the imression that it's ok to be 16 and pregnant.
Let's hope that a lot of mums and dads are talking to their children the way you did!!
Posted By Blogger Kristien : 11:07 AM ET
Gary

If the Spears girls are role models then they must be the role models for what NOT to do in life. I'm not surprised that the Spears are going to publicize this - I don't think anyone has ever been able to explain to them the concept of good taste.

Like you have said on the show before : to drive you are required to pass a test and get a license but to be a parent there is no test or license. In the case of the Spears girls there should be.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 11:19 AM ET
Gary:

Keep chatting with your daughter. Girls love to chat. It is the best thing you can do as a father!

I always thought you were an honorable person on air. Thanks for the confirmation this morning!

Happy Holidays to the Tuchmans! Your family is lucky to have you!
Posted By Anonymous Renee Bradenton, FL : 11:24 AM ET
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