The film Juno revolves around a teenager, Juno, who gets pregnant at the tender age of sixteen. Juno and his boyfriend, Paulie, at first decide to terminate the pregnancy. However, after visiting an abortion clinic, her friend’s protests and the deplorable condition of the clinic make Juno change her mind and decide to give up the baby for adoption after birth (Reitman, 2008). This new twist forms the basis where the rest of the movie is centered. With the help of a friend, Leah, Juno seeks an ideal couple to adopt her child. She finally settles on a childless couple, Mark and Vanessa, who wants a child. The movie brings out the challenges, ethical dilemmas, and emotional conflicts that Juno had to go through due to teenage pregnancy.
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My Reaction to this Film
In this movie, it is clear that instances of communication including interpersonal communication and conflicts can elicit emotional reactions from the audience. Personally, my overall reaction after watching this movie was negative. The plot and conversations seemed unrealistic and saddening. In particular, the parents’ acceptance of the pregnancy and her adoption decision left me wondering if issues of teenage pregnancy should be handled lightly. Juno is an adolescent and at first, she sees her parents as “clueless and insensitive” (Deering & Cody, 2002, p.39) to her situation, thus forcing her to trust her friend, Leah, more than them. I was surprised at the lack of trust and the poor communication between Juno and her parents about adolescent issues such as substance abuse, sexuality, and abortion. Juno’s parents did not accord her a chance to talk and “disclose about her sexual activity” (Deering & Cody, 2002, p.39), which may have contributed to her present predicament. In addition, the lack of effective parental communication may have contributed to her early pregnancy and her decision to procure an abortion.
Most teenagers, who fall pregnant at an early age, suffer from embarrassment and often decide to terminate the pregnancy as they are unsure how their parents will react. However, in Juno, the parents are supportive and they even assist Juno to access antenatal services. Her friends also object to her decision to terminate the pregnancy and encourage her to give up the child for adoption.
While her decision may be considered a positive moral choice, the movie presents a broader picture of how external factors influence a child’s psychological development. It describes how upbringing and societal values play out in the lives of young people. In my opinion, Juno was not left to make a moral decision regarding the pregnancy. In particular, I felt that the parents’ openness and willingness to support her was a reflection of societal influences on moral decision-making. In addition, I felt that the moral dilemma that Juno found herself in was partly caused by the perceptions that people have on issues of abortion.
Emotive Scene on the Movie
Although the plot largely seems unrealistic, its emotional aspect makes it believable. I was particularly moved by Juno’s vulnerability on learning that she is pregnant. She faces many challenges as a young pregnant girl. On several occasions in the movie, Juno says that her classmates made fun of her stomach and even talked ill of her in her absence. However, Juno, at first does not seem to mind their actions, but later she becomes dejected and unhappy. She even accuses Paulie, her boyfriend, of not supporting her and being ashamed of impregnating her. Her outburst reveals that she is vulnerable and unhappy.
After watching this scene, I was also filled with feelings of pity and sympathy for Juno, who is forced to carry adulthood responsibility on her teenage shoulders. This scene moved me as I thought that Juno was just a teenager who had been forced into an adult situation, which she was unprepared to face. Even though Juno’s demeanor reflected her as a young adult, her outbursts and dress code reveal her as an adolescent who has been forced into an adult situation. As Deering and Cody (2002) put it when adolescents feel misunderstood by adults, they become dejected and hostile, behaviors that lead to poor decisions. In this movie, when Juno goes to purchase a pregnancy test kit, she also buys a licorice rope and when calling the abortion clinic, she is seen using a hamburger-like phone. These cues show that Juno is emotionally a teenager despite her pregnancy. She needs support and reassurance from her parents to help her handle the challenges of teenage pregnancy.
Effective Communication as a Nurse
The scene mentioned above revolves around the child development process is a complex societal landscape. Juno is just an adolescent confronted with the adulthood challenges of early pregnancy (Reitman, 2008). Understanding the factors involved in adolescent development and psychology is important for me as a nurse particularly on adolescent healthcare. Nurses are advised to establish a good rapport and trust with the adolescent patient to “elicit his or her participation” and make him or her “feel in control” (Deering & Cody, 2002, p.40). To achieve this goal, nurses should hold a private talk with the adolescent, being non-judgmental and specifying the confidentiality limits so that he or she feels in control of the conversation.
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Adolescents’ interactions and relationships with other people play a major role in their development. In the movie, Juno is raised by her father, with limited communication between them, hence her independent and rebellious behavior. In addition, Juno’s views on relationships are shaped by her father’s relationship with a woman whom he later marries hence becoming her stepmother. In the scene described above, independent and rebellious attitude is revealed in Juno’s decision to go through the pregnancy despite the many challenges she faces. In addition, she does not consult her parents regarding her decision to terminate the pregnancy or her adoption plans.
Additionally, adolescent health encompasses issues such as teenage pregnancy and drug abuse. Interaction with societal values and customs influences one’s perceptions of these issues (Hendry & Kloep, 2002). In the scene, early sex and teenage pregnancy seem to be culturally acceptable as Juno does not hide her pregnancy or discontinue learning, but she seems unperturbed by her situation. Culture is one form of verbal communication and its salient attributes are revealed through language, dressing code, and societal perspectives (Hendry & Kloep, 2002). In the Western culture, sexuality and associated issues of teenage sex, abortion, family planning, and divorce are largely socially acceptable. Thus, understanding the cultural context of teenage sex and pregnancy would help formulate a culturally appropriate plan of care for the client. Moreover, advice on foster care versus adoption would help adolescent mothers make informed decisions about the kind of care they would want for their child. It is apparent that Juno is misadvised, as she even demands that Paulie supports her even though they are both teenagers. Moreover, Juno is misguided in her choice of the adoptive parents as she later learns that a single parent, just like her, would raise her child. Conventionally, an adolescent needs to grow and mature before taking up parental responsibilities. Understanding the cultural environment that adolescents interact with will help me, as a nurse, to communicate effectively with adolescents through active listening and advice a teenager on teenage issues of early pregnancy and substance abuse. In this way, I will be able to promote aspects of teens’ health such as safety and healthy development.
Adolescent issues are multi-dimensional and thus they need a holistic care. From a nursing perspective, clear communication is essential in understanding adolescent health problems and providing holistic care. It comprises four elements, viz. (1) context, whereby the nurse asks contextual questions related to the medical problem; (2) listening, whereby the nurse allows the adolescent to express his feelings freely; (3) empowerment, whereby the adolescent plays an active role in his or her health plans; (4) advice and reassurance regarding self-care (Arnold & Boggs, 2011, p.40). As a nurse, I believe that to communicate and counsel adolescents effectively, one has to understand the cognitive, biological, social, and emotional changes associated with puberty. In the scene, Juno develops a separate identity from her father, as she confides in her peers and Paulie rather than her father. The scene also brings to fore issues of teenage sexuality, abortion and relationships. Juno’s relationship with Paulie resulted to an early pregnancy, hence placing her in a difficult and vulnerable situation.
The lack of effective communication with her parents or any adult aggravated this situation. When dealing with an adolescent client, nurses should note subtle non-verbal communication cues, which are essential in understanding him or her and in building good nurse-patient relationships (Arnold & Boggs, 2011). The patient’s use of silence, body language, attention and touch as well as facial expressions, are important in improving the therapeutic relationship. On the part of the nurse, allowing silences and employing discernible non-verbal behaviors to reinforce verbal messages is important in therapy (Arnold & Boggs, 2011). In addition, aspects of body language such as gestures, touch, facial expressions (smiles or frowns) and eye contact are important non-verbal communication cues of a competent nurse. In my view, as we communicate with adolescent clients, as much as we should be keen to note non-verbal messages given by the client, we should be aware of our own non-verbal cues as they also affect client responses.
Interpersonal Interactions in the Film
Interpersonal interactions in the film reveal many communication cues employed by the characters in the film. The first interaction I would like to talk of involves the interaction between Juno and Paulie, which involves sad facial expressions that show emotions. As stated by Arnold & Boggs (2011), a facial expression serves as “a barometer of another person’s feelings, approachability, motivations and mood” (p.41). Juno appears concerned and stressed in her interactions with others. Her angry outburst when she tells Juno that he is fortunate for he has no ‘evidence’ of premarital sex reveals her as an angry and stressed girl.
On his part, Paulie’s interaction with her is full of nonverbal cues. For example, in the scene where Juno informs him that she is pregnant, his facial expression reveals that he is shocked and scared. Paulie smiles but his glare shows that he, obviously, is not prepared to be a father at his age. After giving the child to Vanessa, Juno and Paulie are seen dancing and singing together. They show happiness and romance after the difficult time they have gone through. In their interactions, Juno and Paulie use facial expressions to communicate their emotions and intentions effectively.
Another interaction I observed in the film is between Juno and Mark, Vanessa’s husband. At a certain point in the movie, Mark and Juno develop a close friendship, but Mark has some intentions that are unknown to Juno. The two are seen hanging out when Vanessa is away. In the final scenes, in the middle of a dance, Mark reveals his intentions to leave his wife. The ensuing argument ends their close friendship. Here, Mark’s non-verbal communication cues are ineffective in communicating his intentions.
Emotions of the Characters
The first scene that I would like to discuss, which involved an emotional response, is where Juno makes the decision to give up her child for adoption. She appears courageous and determined to go through the challenging pregnancy period and seems not to mind the consequences of the pregnancy on her life. The way teen pregnancy is treated lightly seems unrealistic to me. The impact of Juno’s pregnancy on her life is downplayed in this movie. In addition, Juno’s brave decision fails to show the emotional struggle that any mother undergoes when deciding to give up her child to foster homes or for adoption. It also ignores the health challenges including nausea and sudden mood changes that pregnant women go through in the course of their pregnancy. As a healthcare professional, I personally would counsel Juno on pregnancy options and support her throughout the pregnancy. I would inform her of the complications associated with teenage pregnancy due to physical immaturity and emotional distress and advise her on the available healthcare services for her. In addition, I would advise her on social issues like the stigma associated with teenage pregnancy and educate her family and friends to be understanding and give her support.
The second scene I would like to discuss involves Juno’s interaction with her parents. On revealing that she is pregnant, her father does not seem to care and even walks away (Reitman, 2008). A parent would appear concerned and devastated by such news. His reaction reflects reduced interaction and shifting family dynamics after re-marrying Juno’s stepmother. I believe that constant interaction with parents is an essential part of adolescent development. Therefore, child/parent relationships play a role in preventing delinquency, indiscipline, and anti-social behavior in adolescents (Hendry & Kloep, 2002). As a healthcare professional, I would advise Juno’s parents to be caring and supportive towards their daughter as a positive parent/child relationship is important in adolescent development.
One important lesson that I have learnt from the movie relates to challenges associated with emerging adulthood and teenage pregnancies. Juno is at the peak of her adolescence, but she falls pregnant before reaching adulthood. The influence of parental/family relationships on her life is apparent based on the decisions she is forced to make. The film provides a broader perspective on psychological and physical development of an adolescent when faced with social and cultural issues. Therefore, adolescent health and teen pregnancy should be handled in a holistic manner. The complex nature of issues surrounding teenage pregnancy requires healthcare professionals to learn to communicate with teenagers in a way that recognizes the societal and cultural values as well as adolescent psychological development. This communication should involve sex education, healthcare options for pregnant adolescents, adoption/foster care options, and abortion.
Arnold, E., & Boggs, K. (2011). Interpersonal Relationships: Professional Communication Skills for Nurses. St. Louis, MO: Sauders.
Deering, C., & Cody, J. (2002). Communicating with children and adolescents. American Journal of Nursing, 102(3), 34-41.
Hendry, L., & Kloep, M. (2002). Life development: Resources, challenges and risk. Oxford, UK: The Alden Press.
Reitman, J. (Executive Producer). (2008). Juno [DVD]. Los Angeles, CA: 20th Century.