Monday night was the Season 9 premiere of Teen Mom 2, MTV’s infamous headline-generating reality series that seems to be a never-ending wellspring of drama, physical altercations, and arrests. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a big fan, and I was like hundreds of thousands of others in that I had my popcorn ready for Monday night’s premiere, eagerly anticipating some sort of escalating pettiness resulting in the abandonment of inside voices.
Little did I realize that the most powerful and memorable scenes would come from Chelsea DeBoer and her daughter Aubree — and although the scenes were technically inspired by “baby daddy drama,” it was the honesty and the maturity of how the mother and daughter dealt with the latest disappointment that was nothing short of enthralling.
Let me recap the setup for those who may have missed the episode, or as a refresher for those who did tune in. Aubree’s dad Adam Lind is allowed supervised visits with her, but only at a designated visitation facility. After numerous delays, Adam finally filled out all the appropriate paperwork and a weekly visitation slot opened up at a facility located about 45 minutes from Chelsea. Adam expressed interest in the slot and a time and date for the first visitation was arranged.
According to the facility’s policy, the parent who is required to be supervised must arrive at least ten minutes early. If that parent is late, the meeting is cancelled and the other parent or guardian is notified of the cancellation.
The potential visitation scene begins in Chelsea’s car as she, Aubree, and Aubree’s little brother Watson are heading to the visitation center. Chelsea asks Aubree how she feels about seeing her dad for the first time in a long time, and also if she understands why it has to be at a facility.
I will provide a transcript of their conversation below, but it doesn’t do a very good job at conveying Chelsea’s very calm and assuring tone, or how she is so patient as she lets Aubree really think about her answers. And it seems very obvious that letting Aubree think for herself is a common occurrence in the DeBoer household because she does an amazing job of explaining her understanding and expectations.
CHELSEA: Are you excited for this?
CHELSEA: Do you know why you have to see him here?
AUBREE: Because he’s not allowed anywhere else, as well as because he —
CHELSEA: And do you know why?
AUBREE: Because he’s not making good decisions.
Chelsea reveals that they are running a little early, and that they aren’t suppose to show up until the actual time of the appointment. She then says that they will just drive around a bit until it’s time for Aubree to be there. That allows for more mother and daughter talk, including some questions Aubree has about some scenarios that might come up with her dad.
AUBREE: What should I say if he starts talking about you?
CHELSEA: I don’t know. I don’t think he will. Are you nervous or anything?
AUBREE: A little bit, but I don’t know why. [giggles a little]
CHELSEA: It’s like out of your comfort zone a little bit.
AUBREE: I just don’t know what to talk about with him.
Before their appointment time, Chelsea gets a phone call from the visitation center to let her know that Adam did not show up. The call was on speaker phone, so Aubree didn’t need to be told what happened. As the woman is talking, Chelsea turns around and watches Aubree — an obvious show of support.
Once the phone call ends, we get Aubree’s take on the situation.
AUBREE: So the whole visitation’s cancelled just for one late?
CHELSEA: Yes, Aubree.
Aubree places her chin on her hand as she looks over at her brother and contemplates the development.
Chelsea — who seems more shook up that Aubree, but is still managing to remain completely calm — shakes her and and simply says, “Wow.” She glances back at Aubree again.
CHELSEA: Are you OK?
AUBREE: Yeah, we just drove over here for nothing, I guess.
Aubree seems about 40% hurt and 60% frustrated as she sternly turns to look out the window. Chelsea’s percentages look to be flip flopped as she also expresses her hurt and frustration. “I honestly don’t have any words,” she says.
This conversation had so many pivotal moments where things could have gone bad by focusing on the negative, but perhaps none were any more pivotal than this one right here. How many other times have we seen similar scenes with a parent and a child in which the conversation turns to bashing the other parent? Or even the parent just venting anger about the other adult towards the child? So, what does Chelsea do?
CHELSEA: Let’s go get ice cream.
CHELSEA: You wanna do that?
And Chelsea didn’t offer the ice cream trip as a “let’s ignore what just happened by eating something sweet” cop out, but as a “something sh*tty just happened, so let’s deal with it and make the best of it” move. Meanwhile, Aubree continues to talk about the visitation being canceled.
AUBREE: I’m still surprised he did not show up.
CHELSEA: I — yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know if he showed up late or what, but either way, it’s just disappointing, I guess. And I’m sorry that has to be something that you have to think about, even.
The scene cuts as Aubree remains silent and continues to look out the window.
Let’s just revisit how this mom summed up her feelings to her child about the child’s dad not showing up for a scheduled visitation that they drove 45 minutes to be at — with a toddler and a baby on the way mind you. “It was disappointing…and I’m sorry that has to be something that you have to think about.” That is just f***ing great parenting right there. Chelsea doesn’t allow her hurt or frustration to get the best of her by bad mouthing Adam, and she is also very careful to make sure not to tell Aubree how to feel, to allow her to feel however it is that she feels. There’s also an ownership of responsibility from Chelsea, which communicates to Aubree that having a sh*tty biological dad is not Aubree’s fault.
In other words, I’ve watched this scene four times now, and every time I get the impression that this disappointing event in Aubree’s life was still somehow a positive. It was just such a healthy thing to be able to talk about it honestly with someone and process everything right away. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of similar scenes with other children on reality shows, and it almost never results in anything close to a positive and/or growing experience for the child.
Chelsea’s great parenting continued at the frozen yogurt shop when she allows Aubree another chance to express how her dad not showing up made her feel, and she did it without a lot of pressure. I think if Aubree didn’t want to talk about it, Chelsea would have gently pressed it, before letting it go. But, as it turns out, Aubree was willing to talk about it some more. Here’s a clip of the final scene followed by the transcript:
CHELSEA: So, how do you feel?
AUBREE: I don’t know. [laughs awkwardly] Shocked I guess.
CHELSEA: Shocked but not, it seems like.
AUBREE: I’m actually more fine than I thought I would be.
AUBREE: Yeah. When they called you I was, like, “Uh oh! I know.”
CHELSEA: You did?
AUBREE: Because he never does anything. I heard them say that there’s no dad.
CHELSEA: Yeah, that’s what they said.
AUBREE: I know Cole would have showed up if we had to do that.
CHELSEA: Of course.
AUBREE: But he would not — we wouldn’t have to do that, I know he would.
CHELSEA: Right. It’s not fair to get someone’s hopes up like that. You know? In the first one coming, and —
AUBREE: On the first day!
CHELSEA: They’re going to let me know by next Tuesday if —
AUBREE: He did this thing or not? He paid?
AUBREE: If he hasn’t paid, what will happen?
CHELSEA: His visits are canceled. Well, I’m glad you’re not hurt, you know?
AUBREE: I was a little disappointed.
AUBREE: [points to her ice cream] I needed this. When you have ice cream, you feel, like, “Oh, well now I know I needed to have this right now.”
CHELSEA: [laughing] Right. I agree.
Meanwhile, Watson was running around feeling like this altered meme:
I want to thank Chelsea and her family for continuing to share their story on Teen Mom 2. I don’t know this for sure, but I am guessing they have had lengthy discussions about leaving the show, and I’m so glad they have chosen to keep filming despite all the negativity and hassle that goes along with it. Scenes like the one above with Aubree are just so damned important so that people — both kids and parents — can see healthy and productive ways to deal with bad situations.
Oh, and thanks to the producers too. It’s always important to remember how much editing plays a part in the final product that we see, and it almost always takes a skillful storyteller behind the cameras and in the editing room to create scenes as great as these. The combination of production and the DeBoers essentially amounts to reality television alchemy as they have taken a truly leaden situation (being a teen mom with Adam Lind as the dad) and turned it into gold — and not just entertainment gold.
I highly recommend you go watch the full scenes, which you can do by streaming the episode on MTV.com — just jump to 23:25 and 38:10 if you only want to see Chelsea and Aubree.
To continue to follow the DeBoers, as well as the other cast members of Teen Mom 2, be sure to tune in to new episodes airing Monday nights at 9/8c on MTV!
UPDATE – Chelsea’s dad Randy Houska and producer Mandi revealed on Twitter that Aubree is in complete control as far as what they film and what they dont:
Whenever we film with something that has to do with Aubree, she has 100% control over what happens..on the ride to get ice cream we didn’t know if she was ok with filming and she allowed us at the last minute ❤️❤️ I’m so amazed with this little girl❤️ #teenmom2 https://t.co/7g0fmIujaO
— Mandi V. (@mAnDi06) January 15, 2019
It is actually a milestone when you can speak to a child with reason and logic. And they speak back with the same! Not always, of course, they are still children. It is a sign of growth for sure @mtv @teenmom #TeenMom2
— Randy Houska (@PapaRandlicious) January 15, 2019
I’m going to honor the Teen Mom 2 producers and break down the fourth wall in this post by revealing that I was planning to do a story about the drama surrounding Nathan, Kaiser, Jenelle, and David, but I just loved Chelsea’s scenes so much that I opted to highlight those instead. If you liked the positivity, then I recommend another similar post I did highlighting the scenes with Ryan Edwards’ parents Jen and Larry, which are some amazingly poignant, emotional, and brutally honest reality television.
Meanwhile, I’m guessing that tomorrow I will be getting back to posts about David Eason firing a machine gun complaining about Union soldiers on The Land or whatever. ?