Cole and Brooke, twins on the brink of turning 8, were cozied up on the couch with me as Chris Harrison took over the family flat screen TV to announce the 22nd season of “The Bachelor” featuring Arie Luyendyk Jr. back on January 1, 2018.
Me: “Go to bed kids, it’s late and my show is on.”
Them in Unison: “Ooh…a race car driver! Is he going on dates with all those girls?! Make us popcorn!”
And so began our years-long mother-son-daughter whirlwind journey into Bachelor Nation fandom.
My husband’s stance was clear at the outset. He did not approve of his young impressionable children religiously and enthusiastically watching “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” like their lives depended on it. “This is trash,” he would insist. “What in the actual hell, Nora?” He was clearly not happy with my mothering on this one.
But my stance was also clear. Who was I to take this reality dating show joy away from my children who loved it so very much? After all, I did implement common sense measures to shield them from age-inappropriate content. Their little hands served as “kissing goggles” to block out the making out, and my right thumb stayed permanently on the remote control’s fast-forward button for whenever things got frisky.
Then, inevitable reality dating show raunchiness aside, something bigger and more profound became clear to me. What better lessons in human behavior than all these random singles from every corner of America thrown together for a crazy social experiment like this? My kids were hooked on the relationship storylines that were formed on all fronts, whether it was the guys or girls all living together and how they interacted, or how the lead mingled with all the contestants. They were superfans, and knew more about “the cast” than I did. Who would be chosen for the next one-on-one, who would go home broken-hearted, who would make it to hometowns and who would get down on one knee? They called it. Every. Single. Season.
“The Bachelor” franchise has helped me broach touchy subjects with my children in a fun and open way that I truly feel will help to guide them on their own journey to become good humans, friends and eventually good significant others one day. Our takeaways:
Just Be Yourself
This show is a great case study into friendships and relationships. Authenticity matters, kids! If you make a point to be your true self, you will find some good friends and maybe even “your person” along the way.
Take a Risk When it Comes to Matters of the Heart
As the singles step out of the limo at the onset of every season, take note how you can choose to show up in a new situation and find a way to stand out and be memorable. Have a laugh at your own expense. Have some fun!
Love is a Journey
It’s corny and cliché, but finding love can happen in all kinds of crazy ways. A blind date, reconnecting with an old friend, going on a nutty reality dating show! Be open, as all the contestants like to say.
Just because there is one lone person left standing who professes their love to you, doesn’t mean they are the last person on earth. This is not the apocalypse after all! Love is reciprocal. Take your time and find meaningful friendships in the people you meet.
Know the Red Flags
“Nobody Will Ever Love You Like I Do.” Nope, don’t buy that line, kids, ever. There will always be someone out there to love you just as you deserve to be loved. “I wasn’t happy until I met you!” Not good. It’s important that anyone in a relationship be happy with themselves first and foremost, not depend on others for their happiness.
Don’t Get Wasted Drunk
Those who do just look completely ridiculous, especially on television. When you are of age to drink in like a hundred years from now, do it responsibly. Everything in moderation, really guys.
Don’t be the Tattletale
Nobody likes a tattletale. Literally, nobody.
Don’t be the Jerk
Nobody likes the jerk either. Literally, nobody.
Appreciate Your Mom
First, she actually lets you watch this show while most of your friends are surfing Disney+. More importantly, you are going to need her on her best behavior for that hometown visit!
As the years go by and my kids grow older and eventually flee the nest, I will look back at our shared time blissfully watching “The Bachelor” while laughing and commenting on all the contestants as one of the great joys of my life. No shame in my game. Sorry not sorry. It is my hope that some of these life lessons learned will help them to be open, vulnerable and find meaningful friendships and eventually lasting love one day down the line.