Former Teen Star Applauds Jamie Lynn Spears for Keeping Baby

"Facts of Life" alum Lisa Welchel applauds Jamie Lynn Spears for keeping baby.

ByABC News via logo
February 26, 2009, 6:38 PM

Dec. 20, 2007 — -- The news that 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant caused an earthquake in the tween world. Now it's time for the aftershocks, especially from moms.

Britney Spears' younger sister used to have a squeaky-clean image that anxious mothers could relate to. And her character on the hit show "Zoey 101" was someone their teen and preteen daughters wanted to be like.

"It's almost like a betrayal," said Us Weekly magazine executive editor Ian Drew. "This is something that won't be looked on lightly by those parents."

But Lisa Welchel, who played Blair on the TV show "Facts of Life" and is the author of several Christian family books, said that as a former teen star and now the mother of teen daughters, she has some sympathy for Spears.

"I'm very passionate about wanting to speak out on behalf of this young girl," Welchel said. "She is a role model, but it's not her responsibility to be a role model. That's so much pressure on a 16-year-old."

In fact, Welchel said she considers Spears a good role model for deciding to keep the baby.

"I'm so proud of her for stepping up and being courageous and taking responsibility for her choices, and I believe she's being a good role model — a good role model in that situation, to choose to have the baby, and … I am supportive of her in that situation," Welchel said.

Welchel added that she thought the media were being too hard on Spears' mother, Lynne.

"Because we are doing the best we can as moms," she said. "We really are. I know that she's doing the best she can as a mom as well."

While Spears said publicly she regretted getting pregnant, Logan Levkoff, a sex educator and author, said that Spears' decision to announce her pregnancy on the cover of a tabloid magazine disturbed her.

"That concerns me. We live in a society where that's an acceptable way of talking about what you've done," Levkoff said.

Both Levkoff and Welchel said that having a celebrity example like Spears to talk about might be just the opening parents need to start a frank discussion about sex.

Many parents, however, might be wondering what to say.

Welchel said she talked to her daughters, who are 15 and 16, separately about Spears' pregnancy.

"Both of their responses, and it was a different time, was, you know, this is a wake-up call, not for the kids, for the parents. This is happening everywhere, every day," Welchel said.

Levkoff said one thing parents should do is to share some of their teen experiences to show kids they're not absolutely clueless about what it's like to be a teenager.

"We can say, 'I'm concerned about you, and what's going on? Because we didn't have our pop stars getting pregnant or running around without underwear, we didn't have the Internet. It's not that I don't understand — I want you to see how my world looks like so we can reach a happy medium,'" Levkoff said.

Teens will probably have a lot of questions about her pregnancy.

Levkoff said that a conversation needs to deal with more than just having sex and that parents should be specific.

"How did she get herself into this situation? How do I know when is the right time to be ready for sex? How do I protect myself?" Levkoff said. "It's about emotional and physical protection, how to negotiate, how to communicate, and those things should start now."

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