Amber Portwood and Gary Shirley are normalizing discussions about sex — and birth control — for their 14-year-old daughter, Leah.
On the Wednesday, August 23, episode of Teen Mom: The Next Chapter, Leah spoke candidly with her dad about going on birth control to regulate her period after visiting the doctor. Gary, for his part, talked to wife Kristina Shirley and ex Amber, 33, about Leah’s decision.
“[The doctor] explained to me, how to, like, take it,” Leah told Gary, 36, in their conversation, which Gary later told Amber that Leah was OK with filming. “She gave me a whole talk about everything.”
After Gary confirmed with his eldest daughter that she was not yet thinking about having sex, he got real with Leah about what it was like for him and her mom when Amber got pregnant at 17. (Amber and Gary welcomed Leah in November 2008.)
Noting that Amber had already dropped out of school before she got pregnant, Leah asked her dad, “So I didn’t mess anything up?” Gary reassured her that if anyone “mess[ed] anything up” it was him and Amber — not Leah.
“I can protect you better if I know more,” he added, encouraging Leah to talk to him in the future about her dating life.
“Well, I would definitely go talk to Kristina first. It just makes sense ‘cause she’s a woman and probably understands more things from the point of view I have,” she responded, laughing: “And then we’d probably find a way to tell you.”
Amber, for her part, agreed with Leah’s decision when Gary called to tell her the news.
“I wish my mom would’ve thought about that when I was like, laying on the floor cramping and dying [from my period] at that age,” she said.
In a confessional, Amber explained that she “feel[s] better” that Leah will be on birth control. “She’s smart and she understands … what sex is and to wait,” Amber noted, voicing her pride that it doesn’t seem like Leah will follow in her footsteps.
“For me, being a young, teenage mom, the statistic is usually that it’ll happen to your children,” Amber said. Gary, for his part, told his ex that he was “glad [Leah] won’t be like us.”
Amber and Leah have had a difficult relationship over the years due to Amber’s mental health struggles, substance abuse issues and prison stint.
During a February episode of Teen Mom Family Reunion, Amber confessed that her periodic absences from Leah’s life wasn’t the best thing for her daughter. “I was not doing everything that I could with Leah. Now, so much has changed,” she revealed. “Back in the day I thought staying away was the best thing to do for Leah and it actually just completely backfired a couple years later.”
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Amber — who lost custody of 5-year-old son James in 2022 — added: “There is nothing that I will ever be able to do to fix any of that stuff but I just have to keep going.”