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Riverhead teen featured on new TLC show ‘Unexpected’

Lilly Bennett joined a Facebook support group for teen mothers shortly after she became pregnant at age 16. From that group, an opportunity presented itself to share her story with the world.

Lilly is one of three teenagers featured on a new TLC show titled “Unexpected,” similar to the long-running and popular MTV series “Teen Mom.” She said she managed to turn an unplanned life event into a transformative experience.

“I wanted to spread awareness to other young girls that this happens, and to be a role model to other young moms,” Lilly, now 17, said. “Because I’ve had a lot of people put me down for keeping my baby.”

The show premiers at 10 p.m. Sunday and a total of six episodes will air documenting Lilly’s experiences along with 15-year-old Lexus and 16-year-old McKayla.

Lilly said she got pregnant when she was 16 with her boyfriend, James Kennedy. They both had attended Riverhead High School.

In the show’s premiere, that is now available for streaming on TLC.com, Lilly spoke about how she lost a lot of friends after they found out she was pregnant and how she is often stuck in the house with not much to do while her friends keep living their normal, fun lives. She is not alone in her struggle since her mother, Kimberly Bennett, was also a teen mother.

“She understands almost exactly what I’ve been going through,” Lilly said. “She’s been in my shoes, so I can relate to her instead of having a mom who is angry at me and doesn’t understand.”

Lilly and James had their baby girl, Aaliyah, on Sept. 4. They are both no longer students at Riverhead High School. She hopes to get her GED and attend nursing school in the future, but for now she is a stay-at-home-mom. James began working full-time to support the baby, Lilly said.

“I was always more shy and afraid of what people thought of me, but once I got pregnant that all went out the window,” Lilly said. “People’s parents were talking about me and gossiping to other parents, so I said everyone is already talking about it then why do I care if extra people are?”

Lilly said she was not required to take health class in school, and she always opted to take gym, music or another elective courses instead.

“James is a great dad and we’re really happy,” she said.

She said she got some negative feedback from people online already, but despite that she is still excited for the show to air this weekend.

“I’m excited to to see everyone’s reactions to it,” she added.

Photo caption: Lilly Bennett and her boyfriend James Kennedy. (Credit: TLC)

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