Lenape’s Teen Mom Experiment

One of the many electives offered here at Lenape is Child Development, and their most recent project has caught the attention of the friends of those families involved. I noticed that each friday a handful of students would leave school with a baby carrier, with a baby doll sleeping inside of it!

Mrs. Hotz’s Child Development students have each been spending one weekend with a baby doll in order to simulate all of the hard work that goes into taking care of a baby, especually as a teenager. This experiment has been going on since December, and each weekend, a new wave of students takes on the challenge.

Child Development student from the Lenape District. https://www.lrhsd.org/Page/7585

When I first heard that this was happening, I was surprised that this was a real project! Previously, I thought it was just a project that various TV shows set in high schools liked to use.

I knew that I wanted to learn more about this project, so I decided to interview Lily Brewer (’18) on her experience during her weekend caring for her “baby.”

1) What were your thoughts before you took your “baby” home with you? Did you feel prepared before hand? Were you excited/ready to embrace the experiment?

“I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous about taking the baby home. Even though Mrs. Hotz did give us a few days in class to teach us how to take care of our babies — helping us get comfortable with them — I was still feeling anxious about how the weekend would be. However, I also was pretty excited to take part in the project and see what it would be like to be a teen mom.”

2) What happened during your weekend with your baby? Did it go how you expected?

“On the first night that I had the baby, I had to perform at Johnson’s farm for Lenape’s Chamber Choir. It was the second weekend in December and it was freezing cold, so I had no choice but to have my mother watch the baby for me while I was at Johnson’s farm. One thing that Mrs. Hotz does to make our lives easier during the project is to give us one “quiet period.” During this period the baby would be programmed not to cry or have to be taken care of. So I decided to have my quiet period while I performed at Johnson’s farm.

“My baby was pretty good the first night. He only woke me up once or twice during the night so I got fairly good sleep. But, this all changed the second night. He woke me up at midnight, 2 am, 4 am and 6 am so I got no sleep at all. That was a struggle for me, since I cannot function on little-to-no sleep.

“During the second day I took my baby out to Prospectors for dinner. When I told the waiter that I had a baby, he gave me the children’s menu with crayons, which was funny to me, since the baby that we had for the project was a newborn. Real newborns are not able to eat real food yet and can definitely not color yet!

“Overall, I had a good experience with the baby. Even though he kept me up all of the second night and stressed me out a lot, I truly enjoyed taking care of the baby. It made me reminisce on my childhood: when I used to play with baby dolls. It really meant a lot to me, since I am a senior here at Lenape, and I am going to be in the ‘real world’ in the next few months.”

3) How did your family and friends help you take care of the baby?

“My mother helped me a lot during this project. She watched the baby when I had to perform at Johnson’s farm on the first night, helped me calm down when I was having bad anxiety when the baby would cry continually, and after a sleepless night, she watched the baby so that I could take a nap.”

4) What were your favorite and least favorite parts?

“My favorite part of this project was being reminded of my childhood and feeling like a little girl again. I forgot how much fun it was to play with baby dolls and it reminded me of a simpler time!

“My least favorite part of the project was feeling overly stressed and the lack of sleep.”

5) Did you find this experience to be helpful and realistic, or the opposite? How so?

“This project was both realistic and helpful. It forced us students to pay attention to the stigma that surrounds teen moms, and all of the struggles that they deal with. We had to live life like them for a weekend, for example, by not getting sleep, not having time for a social life or school, and having to put the baby first). The only things that weren’t realistic were how we had to swipe across the baby’s stomach to take care of it and how sensitive the neck was.”

It’s really cool to learn about the real life simulations happening throughout Lenape, and to hear about how teachers are challenging their students to be prepared for adult life! Thank you, Lily, for answering all of my questions!