While there may be a lot of garbage on television these days, some of which is even entertaining, once in awhile a series comes along with some educational merit. One such example is ‘Teen Mom’ a reality show that airs on , of all places, MTV. It should be required viewing for all teenagers, due to its honest portrayal of the many challenges being a young parent brings.

Last Saturday afternoon, when the weather was unseasonably warm, I sat inside and enjoyed hours of the ‘Teen Mom’ marathon that was airing. It got me caught up on several of the episodes I had missed as I was just recently exposed to the popular series. Even before hearing of the near conceptions being performed at Tipp’s Homecoming Dance I thought of the difference the show could make in the lives of many teens. And it doesn’t take long to become addicted.

‘Teen Mom’ follows the lives of four young mothers, who first appeared on the series, ‘Sixteen and Pregnant.’ Each has a bundle of difficult drama in their life, along with their precious baby. Their worries go way beyond Facebook gossip and what pairs of shoes best match their outfit, to issues like child support, paying rent and midnight feedings. Unlike a number of reality shows, ‘Teen Mom’ excels at appearing to actually be real rather than staged for the camera.

The featured players are Maci, who will attract your attention with her southern charm, deep blue eyes and by trying to figure out the tattoo on her back. She has split with the father of her child, but rumors abound they will get back together. Maci recently moved to Nashville, from Chattanooga to be closer to her boyfriend, who then dumped her.

Also at 19, is Farrah, whose ex-boyfriend and father of the baby, was killed in a car accident. She is forced to raise Sophia alone, with little help from her mother who she is trying to rebuild a relationship with.

Perhaps the biggest villainess on television is Amber, who seemingly on every episode throws her on-again, off-again fiance Gary, out of the house. What he see’s in her, I don’t know but he keeps coming back for the same routine. She is mean spirited, foul mouthed, and physically abusive; yet compelling to watch. Her segments are my favorite, because besides fight with Gary, I never know what she’s going to do next.

The youngest at 18, but in some ways the most mature is Catelynn, who gave up her daughter, Carly, for adoption. She is still in a relationship with the father, Tyler, who strangely enough is also her step-brother. Yes, Catelynn’s mother is married to Tyler’s father, which makes them siblings. There can’t be much worse than having your parent fall in love and marry a parent of your fiance. My sympathies are with Catelynn, not only for the structure of her family tree, but from the abuse received by her mother.

The lives of each of the four women and millions of others across the country was drastically changed by one moment of believed to be inconsequential passion. WRONG! Amber wasn’t able to graduate high school, and is still trying for her GED. Their relationships were heavily strained or broken and home lives shattered. Each penny earned has an added worth and is spent more quickly. Moments of total peace don’t exist, nor do care free nights out with friends. Every single movement, choice, and relationship made has an effect on another human life.

One of the most striking scenes, is of when Amber is once again throwing Gary out of the house, while their daughter Leah is screaming. It’s the depiction of a chaotic life, totally out of control, a teen in control of another life when she can’t even take care of her own.

It’s common nature for a teenagers to think they know all the answers, I did, but watch ‘Teen Mom’ and you’ll be faced with a whole new set of questions. It might even make you stand a little farther apart the next time you dance. Yes, it can happen to you. Neither Maci, Amber, Farrah or Catelynn ever expected to be teenaged mothers, and most don’t even get a television show for their troubles.

The season finale of ‘Teen Mom’ airs this Tuesday night, Oct. 12 at 10:00 p.m. but it’s not to late to be impacted. Episodes are also available on MTV.com. It should be required viewing for every teenager, it’s an hour that could forever change lives. And on Oct. 19 a new season of ‘Sixteen and Pregnant,’ begins, featuring teens who never watched ‘Teen Mom.’