Nicole Hennessy, a photographer and mother of three, is going viral on TikTok for a video in which she shared her response to her teenage daughter's pregnancy.
The clip stirred up mixed responses among viewers; some applauded the "supportive" parenting, while others condemned her.
Hennessy responded with a follow-up video in which she defended her parenting, adding that she believes her job as a mother is to help her daughter make informed choices.
Ultimately, Hennessy told Insider, she hopes her videos can advance the conversation about parenting, teenage pregnancy, and open communication.
A TikTok mom is going viral after sharing her daughter's story of teen pregnancy.
Nicole Hennessy, a 35-year-old photographer from Rockville, Maryland, downloaded TikTok for the first time in April. The mother of three, who describes herself as "a serious extrovert," says she coped with quarantine by sharing "comic relief" and parenting-themed content on the platform. She frequently posts clips featuring her two younger children and occasionally shares videos of her 17-year-old daughter, Angelina, who is 7 months pregnant.
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When commenters requested a "story time" video about Angelina's pregnancy, Hennessy, after asking her daughter for permission, delivered. The result has stirred up a larger discussion online about parenting and communication.
In the now-viral clip, Hennessy acts out the story of Angelina discovering that she was pregnant. She also reenacts her own response to the news, which included educating her daughter on her "three options" moving forward.
In just two days, the video racked over 12 million views and thousands of comments.
Some viewers applauded Hennessy's parenting, calling her a "great mom," "a supportive parent," and a "role model." Several medical professionals, including popular TikTokker @drleslie, commented on the post, thanking Hennessy for her comprehensive approach to guiding her daughter.
Other commenters, however, wrote that Hennessy had "failed as a parent" and "let her children do whatever they want."
The sudden viral attention — and the accompanying vitriol — came as a surprise to Hennessy. She was particularly shocked, she says, by the comments condemning her for providing her daughter with three options (which were abortion, adoption, or raising the baby, she clarified).
"I did not expect people to have such strong opinions," she told Insider. "It really shocked me."
Angelina, Hennessy says, is simply amused by her mother's viral fame.
Online attention has even come with some perks for the teenager; Angelina has racked up TikTok followers of her own and received baby gifts from supporters.
In response to critical comments, Hennessy posted a follow-up video in which she defended her parenting
In the clip, she acknowledged the negative comments and elaborated on her approach to supporting her daughter.
"My job as her mother was to educate her and help her be the best person that she wants to be, not who I want her to be," she said, adding that not presenting her daughter with options would have been "manipulative."
Hennessy went on to say that she and her daughter thoroughly discussed what each option would look like — an approach, she believes, that will help her daughter become "strong" and "independent."
"I hope you raise your children the same way," she concluded.
Hennessy hopes that her videos can advance the conversation about parenting and teenage pregnancy
Ultimately, Hennessy says, she hopes her perspective will encourage parents to be supportive if their teenagers approach them with news of a pregnancy.
"The way you react to a situation like is not only going to form your future relationship with your child, but it's also going to form the opinion they have of themselves," she told Insider. "You have to give them the love and support they need and help them figure out what's best for them."
A parent's responsibility, she added, is to "guide and teach" through complex situations, rather than making decisions unliterally.
Since posting the videos, Hennessy has received messages from teenagers asking for advice about how to disclose their pregnancies to their parents.
"I think that parents sometimes forget that their teenagers want that open, honest relationship. They want to go to their parents," she said. "And when we get upset or judge quickly, it pushes our kids away from being open and honest with us."
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