Maci Bookout just wants what is best for her son.
For all of her children, obviously. But in this specific case, her first-born child – the son who first made her a (somewhat reluctant) star on MTV.
As anyone who has followed the journey of this Teen Mom OG star knows, she shares 12-year old Bentley with her ex, Ryan Edwards.
Shares, in a manner of speaking.
Given that Ryan has been arrested on many occasions and battled substance abuse problems for years, Maci has done the lion’s share of the parenting.
And these days, due to the aforementioned long-running issues that have plagued Edwards, Maci is not even lettiing Bentley see his dad.
Or, to hear Bookout explain it, as she did this past Tuesday night on the season premiere of Teen Mom OG, Bentley simply doesn’t want to see his dad.
This turn of events led Ryan’s father, Larry, to allege that Maci is keeping Bentley away from his side of the family out of spite – but Bookout says the adolescent youngster really is calling the shots.
“I have raised Bentley to be an individual, to be himself and it’s okay to feel however he feels,” Maci told In Touch a few days ago.
“Honestly, I have not raised him to give anybody the ability or the power to influence him, not even me.”
“So there’s that. Really nothing else to say.”
In a follow-up interview with this same tabloid, Maci acknowledges that Bentley and Ryan have an “uncomfortable” relationship.
But her son is now attending therapy sessions in order to smooth things out.
“It came about because Bentley had shared concerns with me and [my husband] Taylor McKinney and was feeling really uncomfortable around Ryan and had mentioned that he didn’t really want to be around him or see him and stuff like that,” Bookout tells In Touch.
Maci claims she told Bentley that she understands his hesitation, given the tumultuous relationship she’s had with Ryan.
But Edwards is one of his parents.
He can’t just never see him again.
What Bentley can do, however, is take certain steps toward solidifying his relationship with his dad.
Meaning what, exactly?
“Bentley started therapy with the ultimate goal that [he] and Ryan would go to therapy together, just the two of them to have their own safe space.”
In that type of setting, perhaps they could “talk and build the relationship or do whatever they wanted to or needed to do,” Maci says.
“And that’s what I really wanted to do.”
Way back in the day, in October 2008, viewers met Maci and Ryan on 16 & Pregnant, during which time they welcomed Bentley.
Maci is now happily married to Taylor and they share two kids of their own, Jayde, 5, and Maverick, 4.
She’s moved way on from Ryan in a romantic sense, but she’ll always be linked to him due to their shared son and she’ll always need to think about him because he needs to play some role in Bentley’s life.
She does recognize this.
But Bentley isn’t a baby anymore.
He’s old enough to pick up on a whole lot of things, and he’s the one holding himself back these days, Bookout insists.
“I couldn’t tell you the last time the words, ‘I wanna see my dad’ came out of his mouth,” Bookout said on Tuesday.
Harsh, but the truth often is. The topic of seeking professional help then came up on air as well.
“He doesn’t want to see his dad anymore unless he gets therapy,” Maci reiterated on this emotional episode.
The upsetting part of this (well, all of it is upsetting) is that Ryan’s issues have extended beyond addiction.
Other times, even when he has seen Bentley, he’s been accused of being straight up mean to the kid.
Furthermore, he’s got other custody issues at home.
The father of her son from a previous relationship also has concerns about what the Teen Mom OG world is doing to their son Hudson.
The long and short of it? It’s all a big mess.
Hopefully Ryan will swallow his pride, take Maci’s advice and talk to someone. If nothing else, opening up the lines of communication and looking inward will help him as a dad and as a person.