Teen Mom OG star Amber Portwood says her dynamic with daughter Leah, ex Gary Shirley and his wife, Kristina Shirley, has changed for the better in an exclusive video interview with In Touch. 

“So, I’ve been going through a lot, and I had just talked about this … you know, giving [Leah] space, was the No. 1 thing that really helped our relationship and giving her time to just go through the motions,” Amber, 31, explains.

Teen Mom's Amber Gives Update on Where Things Stand With Daughter Leah, Gary, Kristina
Courtesy of Kristina Shirley/Instagram

The former 16 & Pregnant star hinted that she and Leah were going through a rough patch in their mother-daughter bond in an April 2021 Instagram post on Easter, noting there are “many things I need to do to make this right.”

Days prior, Amber took to Instagram Live with a message blasting Kristina, hinting there was some coparenting drama going on behind closed doors.  

“I try to invest time with Leah all the time, all the time. It’s all I ever do,” Amber said at the time, adding, “[Kristina] doesn’t take care of my daughter … Gary wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for me in the very beginning.” 

Shortly after the social media drama, Kristina’s sister-in-law Jenna Tinch spoke out in her defense in a comment captured by the Teen Mom Tea Instagram account, saying Kristina “has displayed so much encouragement and support for Leah and Amber’s relationship” and did not deserve the criticism.

Months later, Amber spoke out again about her estranged relationship with her teen daughter in an emotional TMOG episode that aired in September, telling cameras it “breaks my heart that Leah and I are drifting apart.” 

Teen Mom's Amber Gives Update on Where Things Stand With Daughter Leah, Gary, Kristina
AMI/MEGA; Courtesy of Gary Shirley/Instagram

Despite the disconnect they had and continued coparenting drama on the TMOG reunion, Amber says that she is happy to see some strides.

“I just kept showing up,” Amber tells In Touch. “I kept being there, even if she wasn’t around me, I would still make sure that it was, my presence was known. And today, we are actually a lot better. And as a whole family, I mean, we go out together, even little James.” 

In addition to her daughter Leah shared with Gary, 35, the Never Too Late author also has a son, James, shared with her now-ex Andrew Glennon. 

“I love Kristina, so it’s been really great,” Amber adds. “I did exactly what I thought was needed. And even though people didn’t understand because they might not have been in my situation, giving space in a situation like that is actually one of the best things that I did. And I wouldn’t take it back.”

Teen Mom Family Vacation airs on MTV on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. followed by Teen Mom: Girls’ Night In.

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