Molly Ringwald: Daughter ‘Not Interested’ in TV

04/28/2010 at 08:00 AM ET
Jeff Vespa/Wireimage/Getty

She may have shot to stardom in front of the camera, but Molly Ringwald has managed to keep certain aspects of the entertainment industry out of her home until recently.

“For years we didn’t have a television. The first few years Mathilda [Ereni, 6½] was alive, we didn’t have a TV, and then we finally broke down and got one,” the actress, 42, tells Mother Jones.

“Not having had a television for that early time, she is not interested by television at all. She’s much more interested in other stuff, which I’m kind of pleased about.”

And while her children — including 9-month-old twins Adele Georgiana and Roman Stylianos — have limited access to the tube, Ringwald is getting plenty of screen time herself on The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

The mother of a teenage girl who finds herself expecting, Ringwald, who also becomes pregnant on the show, admits the issue of teen pregnancy is one that needs to be addressed.

However, she fears Bristol Palin — who will play herself on an upcoming episode airing this summer — and her message of abstinence after welcoming her son Tripp in 2008 is not the right answer.

“It’s fine that she can say that she made a mistake. But to preach abstinence, I think, is absolutely not the right message to give to kids,” Ringwald explains, adding that she prefers “communication and talking about choice” when it comes to discussing sex with her own daughters.

“We need to have an open dialogue about it, and she needs to know how to protect herself. I just think that it’s completely unrealistic to think that kids are not going to have sex.”

— Anya Leon

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Showing 21 comments

Elle on

Wow…well I definitely disagree with her on this issue to an extent. I think we should absolutely preach abstinence while realizing that we need to be sure that girls know how to protect themselves. But to just be like, “I just think that it’s completely unrealistic to think that kids are not going to have sex.” is silly. I was taught that I needed to value my body and that if a man really respected me that he would wait until we were married to have sex. My husband and I were each others one and only and that is something I will be proud to share with my son. There is no shame in waiting!!!

Becky on

Secret Life of the American Teenager is really irresponsible in how it depicts a teenager with a baby. The teen mother is showed with friends, a boyfriend, the baby’s father fighting to see the baby even more, all the characters are having a good time and they all look great. How about showing what really happens? Pregnancy weight gain, absent teen fathers, stds, dropping out of high school, gossiping, losing friends. Teen pregnancy shouldn’t be glamorized, and this show makes it seem like it’s not a bad thing to have a baby in high school.

nina on

I agree with her a 100% is absolutly unrealistic believe that teenagers aren’t going have sex…at the end of the day it is about choice and knowing how to protect yourself.

izzy on

it is pretty ridiculous to preach abstinence. sex comes naturally and so do hormones. the urge to have sex is pretty strong and teenagers aren’t exactly known for calculating the consequences of their actions. i believe we need to educate teenagers on the options…..abstinence is a choice, along with protected sex. its up to each person to choose what they think they can handle.

JM on

elle, i don’t think she was saying there is any shame in that just that it’s unrealistic. it worked for you that’s great, but my cousin is doing a PHD on sexual behaviour in young people and believe me, if you want to look at evidence, which is the only sensible way to approach this issue, the evidence shows that teaching abstinence doesn’t work. (Bristol Palin is case in point).

it is far more important that teenagers feel they can talk about sex openly, that they know everything there is to know about contraception and that we de-stigmatise the whole issue. no one is saying, go and tell all teenagers to go out and have sex, but all the evidence, and trust me on this, shows that it is better to teach about using contraception, having the confidence to say no when you don’t want to, knowing how to stay safe etc. is far more effective than teaching abstinence.

everything else is just a cozy little myth, that, i’m sorry doesn’t actually work in the real world.

Courtney on

I agree that it’s not realistic to think that our kids won’t have sex. My parents didn’t think that I would and I lost my virginity at 15. I am not proud of that fact by any means but this day and time all we can do is educate our children and pray that they make the right decisions. I was raised in a loving, Christian home with high moral standards. In high school I was even part of my church’s “True Love Waits” youth group but even with all of that…it still happened. I of course want my children to value their bodies and I want them to wait until marriage but I’m not going to be naive to the fact that they may one day have sex before marriage. I do however want them to know how to protect themselves from STDs and pregnancy…with the first line of defense being abstinence!

Stephany on

I’m a girl who is practicing abstinence (I’m 22 and still a virgin, waiting until my wedding night to have sex), but I do agree with Molly on this one. I do think we need to talk about abstinence but abstinence-only education is not the way to go. Teenagers need to learn how to protect themselves so we can have fewer “16 and Pregnant” shows.

And I just want to agree completely with Becky about her show. It’s such an unrealistic view on teenage pregnancy and the show itself is just written pretty badly.

Christy on

And WHY is it unrealistic for us to expect teens to abstain? Because of this attitude. Because their parents would rather avoid the topic and won’t push their schools to teach abstinence only. Yes, kids will learn about sex elsewhere, but how does telling them how to do it safely decrease the chances of them doing it at all? Kids who have sex learn what is safe/unsafe outside of sex ed, and sex ed isn’t going to change their minds about using a condom. So the entire reason for teaching safe sex in schools is out the window.

Anna Sarah on

I agree with Becky. The Secret Life fails at depicting an accurate lifestyle for teenaged mothers. It also sends the message that all teenagers who have sex will suffer terrible consequences. The girls on the show who have had sex have gotten pregnant, been called whores by their classmates and one girl’s father died in a plane crash because she didn’t abstain. It’s ridiculous.

Terri on

Abstinence is not unrealistic. It’s fine to preach other options, but to dismiss abstinence as an option is equally irresponsible. Plenty of women practice abstinence everyday.

alice jane on

I don’t think people can honestly expect a strict “abstinence only” message to really get across. For some teenagers, it works, and for others, it doesn’t. I believe that parents, and schools, need to let the kids know that if they don’t want to have sex, then they absolutely do not have to, but if they are going to, they need to know their options and how to be safe.

And I do agree with Molly that Bristol Palin is not the best person to be preaching an abstinence only message… Bristol herself has even said that she doesn’t think abstinence for teens is realistic overall. I’m not sure where she changed her mind on that one.

And on a side note, Molly has absolutely beautiful children! I would love to see an updated picture of the babies but it’s also nice that they’re out of the spotlight. Mathilda is gorgeous though, wow, and so is the husband!

Erika on

I used to like the show, but now it is just over dramatic and so unrealistic. Now even though it has gotten a lot of criticism, I would say that MTVs 16 and pregnant is more realistic in showing teen pregnancy.

Suzanne on

Abstinence may be AN option but it shouldn’t be presented as the ONLY option. Many studies have shown that abstinence only education programs tend to delay the age at which kids first become sexually active – note, most kids who receive abstinence only education do not stay abstinent. But the kids that received abstinence only education are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors and when they do become sexually active have high rates of pregnancy and STDs.

It’s unrealistic to think that ALL kids are going to remain abstinent or ALL kids are going to be sexually active, so why not adequately and comprehensively educate them about sex?

Kira on

The local youth center teaches a seminar called “Abstinence without Ignorance” It teaches the youths about the dangers of unprotected sex, the emotional damage sex at a young age can cause, and ways to protect themselves if they do make the decision to have sex. It is a VERY straight forward workshop and is very positive. The basic message is Abstinence is the best choice, but know your body, know the feelings you are having, know WHY you are having these feelings and if you do act on those feelings, protect yourself. It also lets the kids know that if they do make a mistake and have sex once, it does not mean they have to KEEP doing it what whoever, whenever. It is YOUR body and you should respect it and yourself enough not to want to be used and abused by people who won’t love you forever…

Anna on

It’s all about personal choice for me. Just because someone has sex before marriage doesn’t mean they don’t respect their body or that it is wrong of them to do so. As long as the person is ready for it I don’t see any problems.

So present all options as a choice. Teaching just abstinence is dangerous because it creates ignorant people who don’t know how to protect themselves.

JM on

i don’t really understand this message of “abstinence is the best choice”, it seems to be a very american thing. what’s wrong with sex? i’m not saying go around sleeping with every person who comes your way but in my life it wouldn’t have worked and i wouldn’t have wanted to wait until i was married. sex is fun guys, we don’t need to treat it as some seedy thing. as i said before teenagers need help in understanding what sex really is, how to protect themselves, how to say no. they shouldn’t be made to feel that there is anything wrong with having sex before marriage if it is with someone you care about and who respects you.

kat_momof3 on

I disagree with Molly on this issue as well. I think it is important and vital to teach abstinence. I’m not saying don’t educate them about protection… but it really should be cued into them that the protection is for LATER… when they are READY for sex (whatever that means for your family… whether, when you are old enough, mature enough, and in a long term monogamous relationship, or whether you change that last factor to married)

I think it is key to say… I want you to know about protection for when you are ready, but still stress the point that they AREN’T ready…

I definitely plan to teach all my kids about birth control… but for now, as they are not even in middle school, we only talk about waiting until they are ready for what sex can bring… babies and risk of illness (they understand illness better than disease, but they do know in general how serious it is… they’ll be older when we talk about specific stds)

Of course, they will want to and should be informed about birth control… it’ll be logical they will ask me one day how their father and I prevent babies from coming out of me… and I’ll tell them, but I’ll go back and stress that they aren’t ready for it… I’ll tell them when they will know they are ready… and then have them already know what they can use when that time comes.

CelebBabyLover on

JM- There’s nothing wrong with sex. It’s just that some people (like myself) think sex is a very special, sacred act that should only be shared between a husband and a wife. Obviously not everyone shares that view, and that’s fine. The world would be a very boring place if we all had the same opinion! 🙂

JM on

celebBabyLover, 🙂 funnily enough, i agree. i mean about everyone not needing to have the same opinion. and i tihnk it’s great that you have that live and let live attitude. i’m the same, i don’t believe people should have to wait until their married, but if some people want to, don’t make no difference to me 🙂 everyone has to make their own choice.

i just don’t like it when i’ve heard people before preaching abstinence as if it somehow makes you a better person or that you and your partner are somehow more committed to each other because of it. or that preaching abstinence would solve the problem of teenage pregnancy.

but that is obviously not what you are doing, so i agree, live and let live.

Jess on

I have to laugh at this, my parents preached abstinance, as did my church, I got pregnant at 15..I am not ashamed, and I don’t concider my daughter a mistake, that being said, I would NEVER try to teach abstinance..It is too tempting when you flat out tell somebody they CAN NOT do something…So last summer when my daughter came to me about getting on birth control, we had a long talk about responsibility and love vs lust and how much I had to struggle raising her as a single parent and what the pros and cons are..anyways what I think I am trying to say is I would rather know my daughter is being safe with her boyfriend than a 31 year old gramma!

Kelsey. on

The Secret Life of the American Teenager is an amazing show. It really discusses teenage pregnacy and how hard it is. I also agree with her about the abstinance. Lets be realistic, teenagers have sex, they just do. And when you preach to them about abstinance that just makes them want to do it more. Yeah some kids actually follow through with abstinance but most dont.