You read the title correctly. I do in fact often let my 11-year-old daughter watch The Bachelor shows with me. I know I’m going to catch a lot of flack for this, but just listen.
Now, we’ve always been a VERY open family. They ask, we tell. We use correct scientific terms for everything, and we also make sure they understand the slang terms (which means no more gross husband innuendos at our house!). We very much have fostered an open dialogue so that our kids aren’t learning from the hooligans at school.
With that being said, I didn’t just sit her down and say, “Hey let’s watch this!” My daughter wandered in one day during an episode of Bachelor in Paradise. Nothing extremely racy was going on, so I let her sit down and after about five minutes she looked at me and said, “Um, why are they half naked?” She was referring to the lack of coverage the swimsuits were providing. So, I told her that some girls are very proud of their bodies, trying to keep it positive. She then referred to the girls as “thirsty? and told me why they shouldn’t be advertising their bodies if they want a guy to like them for more than that. Point, Rowen.
The next time she wandered into the show, there were two girls fighting over the same guy. There was ugly crying and girl blaming, name calling, they whole nine yards. She watched quietly for about 10 minutes and then shook her head about how neither one of the girls was blaming the guy for dating them both. She explained how the girls had claimed to be friends, but weren’t actually acting like very good friends. We had a lengthy discussion about Girl Code and why it’s important to be friends with girls that bring you up and have your back. Again, point Rowen.
Now, I know you are thinking, “Yes, but The Bachelor? Really?” I know, I know, but for whatever reason she was applying it to the friends she has (apparently fifth graders are dramatic) and the future friend she wants to be. The best conversation for me was when the 22-year-old contestant was bawling because this was her “last chance at love” and Rowen looked at me and point blank said, “Isn’t 22 right when you get out of college? Why is this her last chance at love? Didn’t she just start her life? She maybe needs Jesus first.” Point, and game Rowen. At 11 years old, she was able to figure out that being 22 and single is not the end of the world. My only hope is that she continues to hold these codes and strengths as she grows up.
So the Bachelor may not be the show you want to watch with your daughter, I never thought in a million years I would be OK with it. The point wasn’t the show, the point was the conversations. The show just provided some real life examples of what might come her way. It was a catalyst for conversations that I wouldn’t in a million years have dreamed of having with a fifth grader, but the time was right and the wheels it turned in her mind were amazing. I was able to gauge what kind of girl she was turning into. Would you ever date your friend’s boyfriend? At 11, the thought is reprehensible, mainly because her best friend’s boyfriend is in another class and long distance doesn’t work in elementary school!
But opening her eyes to possible friendship betrayal and getting to talk through how to handle it (apparently screaming and throwing drinks wasn’t her jam) was the groundwork for future conversations. It allowed her to see how terribly wrong adults act. She even referred to them once as kindergarteners with all the fits they threw while yelling at the TV that they needed to breathe and find a safe place!
Whether it’s Bachelor in Paradise or Daniel Tiger, lessons can come from the strangest places!