Am I a terrible mom for letting my kid watch The Bachelor?

by singlemomseeking on February 2, 2009

For those of you who are sick of my “Bachelor” posts, I understand. You have my full permission to ignore this post. No hard feelings, okay?

Confession: I’ve been letting my eight-year-old watch parts of The Bachelor. And the reason is  selfish: I’ve wanted to watch the show.

But after the first episode, I realized this: watching The Bachelor has opened up a discourse to explain modern-day relationships to my savvy kid.

At least I’m not alone.

An author and blogger whom I admire — Kaui Hart – recently wrote a hilarious post about Watching the Bachelor with My Daughter,” and it’s classic!

Her four-year-old wanted to stay up late to watch The Bachelor: “Can I watch the whole thing?”

“No,” I say. “It will hurt your brain.”

“Then why will you watch the whole thing?”

“The damage is done.”

(Read Kaui’s full post here.)

“I think that The Bachelor has given my daughter and me some good dialogue prompts,”  Kaui explains to me in an email. (By the way, she’s married, and her husband can’t stand the show).

“The gender lessons I see on the show are often no better than the ones found in the Disney princess books,” she adds.

Gender lessons on primetime TV? Say what?

I happen to agree.

I’ve let M watch the first few episodes. During the kissing scenes, she covered her eyes and turned the other way. (No, I didn’t even ask her. Kissing scenes are so embarrassing!)

She wants to know why so many women are crying. “Mommy, now another one is crying! Oh no!”

She starts to giggle.

Then I start to giggle, too. “See how silly they’re being,” I say, “crying over a man!”

I clear my throat and get real serious: “You don’t need a man to be happy,” I add. “You find happiness right here, inside of you.”

I touch her chest. She squints her eyebrows at me, clearly thinking, You’re weird mom.

But tonight, she didn’t watch The Bachelor. That’s because the show is narrowed down to just a handful women — and if Jason Mesnick starts sleeping around, that’s just too much information.

Am I alone here?

Do any of you let your kids — under age 11 — watch The Bachelor, or any other PG-13 reality shows?

~~~

Sigh, Jason booted off all the single moms tonight… and that’s a silly photo of me acting like a Bachelorette, taken by Craig Merrill. And yes, that baby peed on me!

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike February 3, 2009 at 3:36 am

Haven’t watched the show, but I’d have to say I’m probably in the group with Kaui’s husband. Watched about 10 minutes of on of these women trying to get a man reality shows once and found it even more ridiculous than the Survivor show (I’ll skip my opinion of it).

If they’re going to have a reality show on a bachelor they should go find a bachelor doing real dating in the real world with real women.

Not some staged event with people that the industry people have selected. If they want to pass this off as real then make it the real thing. True reality is far more interesting than something the producers of some show can try to pass off as real.

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SingleParentDad February 3, 2009 at 5:04 am

I don’t know about the Bachelor or any other reality show, but I shamefully have let Max watch the Star Wars films and even the Transformers movie. But it would also seem I am not alone in that, and that perhaps controlling the introduction of ‘dodgy’ subject matter, and offering positive explanations and that what constitutes REAL is the way to go.

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T February 3, 2009 at 5:58 am

That’s hilarious Rachel. I can totally see M giving you that look.

Nope, no Bachelor here. Because I think all the crying is silly too! :)

T´s last blog post…Do happiness, do sexy

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John F February 3, 2009 at 6:48 am

Yes, you are horrible. LOL. My gaffes usually involve older movies that I had forgotten the content. Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Caddyshack–hey they were rated PG back in the day!

John F´s last blog post…The Invisible Mom–Building Cathedrals

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Dr.Leah www.singlemommyhood.com February 3, 2009 at 6:48 am

Do I think The Bachelor is great TV viewing? No.

Do I think you shared some profound and important thoughts with M while watching The Bachelor? Yes.

M’s squinting eyes did not signal “weird mom” alert. Likely, she was concentrating on your message–happiness begins inside. Stand by for questions on that topic as that thought percolates through her mind.

I would skip the sleeping around episodes – TMI for M (and, frankly, all of us).

Dr.Leah http://www.singlemommyhood.com´s last blog post…When Dad is a no show

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Susan February 3, 2009 at 7:03 am

Rachel, you’re only a bad mom if you say, “Honey, I hope you can compete on The Bachelor one day!”

(And if you tell me that YOU are going to be on The Bachelor I might have the same reaction!)

I think it’s wise to stay away from the adult themes of the show, but it sounds like you used the first few episodes as teaching moments.

Susan´s last blog post…Happy Monday

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won February 3, 2009 at 7:15 am

I kick my eleven year old out of the room.

TMI, and a bad example for him.

won´s last blog post…The Invitation

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MindyMom February 3, 2009 at 8:41 am

LOVE the pic Rachel! Perfect for when you are the single mom bachelorette!

My 14 year old watches the show with me but my 17 year old is too busy. I do have an 11 year old too but she doesn’t watch and isn’t interested. I don’t think I would let her anyway; she already has way TMI form having two older sisters!

MindyMom´s last blog post…Tired Busy Mom – With an Update

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Kendall February 3, 2009 at 10:01 am

Daybreak watches it too, whenever I see her and Eva doing this I make a comment about Daybreak being assimilated. I usually get a jab to the knee or a pillow in the face for my trouble.

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tanasie February 3, 2009 at 10:20 am

My parents let me watch Porky’s with them. So, the Bachelor sounds tame. Plus, I like that you’re teaching her to never ever act like the women on that show — or Rock of Love or — even worse — Flavor of Love.

tanasie´s last blog post…Out of Ideas

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Legal Editor Mom February 3, 2009 at 11:44 am

Oy, Rachel. What can we do to shift your focus? Justifying your obsession with this trash by passing it off as educational for M is just silly.

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Kevin February 3, 2009 at 12:35 pm

I used to watch that show a lot in the first few years it was on. So, the question I have may have already been explained: But, itd be nice if they had men/women of color as the bachelor/bachelorette. I saw a hispanic woman in the second season.

Kevin´s last blog post…Me, qualify for Boston? You must be crazy!

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singlemomseeking February 3, 2009 at 12:56 pm

I haven’t even mentioned the fact that my Dad took my sister and me to see “Cheech and Chong” when we were in elementary school. See where that got me?….

As LEM points out, some of you are letting me off the hook are too easily here.

LEM: Let’s hear what’s on your mind! I’m serious. I’d love to know what’s on your plate these days.

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jen February 3, 2009 at 2:06 pm

I used to let my son (about 5 at the time) watch Big Brother and I’d try to explain to him that while it was a reality show the situations were contrived by big brother. I think he got it. Then I realised that all the contestants did on big brother (or all that was shown) was that they bitched about each other all the time so I stopped letting him watch it. It’s now been axed here anyway.

jen´s last blog post…A new journey

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dadshouse February 3, 2009 at 2:24 pm

I think your daughter should not be watching The Bachelor. It will give her a skewed view of how to attract and interact with a potential suitor. Do you really want her lining up a row of contestants? Or being a contestant herself? It will happen…

I’d rather my kids chase the opposite sex the old-fashioned way.

dadshouse´s last blog post…My Teen Daughter is Dating

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Leslie Miller, LICSW February 3, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Hi Rachel- I think the show depicts women as foolish and pathetic, waiting to be rescued. I usually feel embarrassed for the women on the show. The “bachelor” is calling all the shots and the women cry in waiting. If you are willing to have that dialogue with your daughter while watching than I think it’s fine. This is a terrible image of women…Disney princess meets reality tv where women are hot but helpless.

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Leslie Miller, LICSW February 3, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Yes-I would agree with dadshouse. There is a lot of television that outright attacks female self-esteem, and I believe the Bachelor is just one of many programs that achieves this. The humiliation factor and the women competing against each other is definitely negative.

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Eathan February 3, 2009 at 3:45 pm

As you probably know, I don’t watch the show. I’m just accepting applicants for the IDW Bachelor aka Interracial Bachelor. ;)

But seriously… While Dirt Bike Boy was in the hospital, his mother wanted to watch the Bachelor. She didn’t let him watch it. She watched it on the laptop and he didn’t watch it.

I don’t think the Bachelor has content that a child needs to see. Otherwise it would be on Nik TV.

Just my 2 cents. ;)

Eathan´s last blog post…Dating A Hospital Nurse

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Amy February 3, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Rachel,

The Bachelor and the reality shows like it are nothing but signs of the time we live in. Our kids hear about it at school even if we don’t let them watch it – because someone in your kid’s class has someone who is letting them watch the Bachelor or something even worse. I’m not saying that means you should just let your kid watch anything – but be realistic in knowing that just because you don’t allow it – doesn’t mean the issues aren’t coming up for them. And Rachel is at least addressing the issues with M.

And as for female self esteem. The Bachelor represents just a fraction of the things in our current culture that wage attacks on beliefs about true femininity and distorts how a woman should really be viewed. The message that you can’t live without a man and you must catch one and keep him (and beat out all the competition) is so much a part of us – I think its actually part of our DNA. Not that I think that is a good thing.

Amy´s last blog post…Journal 122: January 2009 I Haven’t Said Anything About This In A Long Time

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Legal Editor Mom February 3, 2009 at 5:04 pm

I’m all for addressing issues with our kids head on and I give Rachel kudos all the time for being open and honest with M—much like I am with my daughter who’s several years younger, but another only child who is sharp, curious, and even quite precocious.

Yet please re-read what Jen, Dad’s House, Leslie Miller and Eathan all said. There are other shows that are more age appropriate and more suitable, and certainly other experiences in life that you may draw lessons from, apart from ones that are canned and fake. THAT’S what I’m talking about.

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from the desk of ...me February 3, 2009 at 6:19 pm

i think it’s fine. i can imagine that it will spark some pretty interesting conversations between you and mae.

from the desk of …me´s last blog post…My Life Pie

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Canadian Bald Guy February 3, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Having never watched the show, I will just go out on a limb and say “no”…you’re not a terrible mom for letting your kid watch it.

You would be a terrible mom if you let your kid watch “Step Brothers” or “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” or any other truly adult entertainment.

If you want your child to watch *with* you and not on their own, then you’re also obviously ready for any of the questions that may arise from said 8-year old watching the show. Helping them understand certain situations in a mature way is healthy, I think.

So while I may question your taste in entertainment, it’s certainly not because it’s inappropriate. Just really REALLY cheesy.

Canadian Bald Guy´s last blog post…Confessions from a cubicle…

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Amy February 3, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Not to get off topic – but you the reality show about the couple that have the set of twins and then the set of sextuplets (I think that’s 6) – that’s on TLC. Yesterday Sadie was yelling a blue streak about her messy baby dolls. Sadie would NEVER hear me talk like that – not because I don’t raise my voice at her – but because I am a slob myself. I’m not criticizing the mom because I can’t even imagine how hard it is to have all those kids – but it was quite enlightening to see my four year old giving her dolls a severely demeaning scolding for spilling their ice cream. I had never given a thought to the content of that show.

All of this – just to say – I do believe we have a responsibility to make sure our kids are not watching things that are sending the wrong message – BUT the messages are coming in from so many different directions I don’t think we can block them all. For example – my mom and dad didn’t let me watch pornos – but it didn’t stop the “schooling” about pornos I got at the lunchtable in fourth grade – with full graphic details!

So all I am saying is that I know I can’t be the block on everything – so I just work extra hard to be the filter that can help Sadie with the onslaught of what she is going to hear and see.

But Sadie is only four so I have only limited experience with us watching the same shows. I have let her watch American Idol with me – I’m not sure if she’s picked up any bad stuff there. I guess it is possible.

Amy´s last blog post…Journal 122: January 2009 I Haven’t Said Anything About This In A Long Time

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Mom2Maddie99 February 3, 2009 at 8:42 pm

I love the show. My 9 year old has been watching bits and pieces of it with me. I do not see anything wrong with it.

By the way… I hope he picks Melissa.

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Alicia February 4, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Rachel, it’s fine. M is going to have hundreds of experiences in life. I seriously doubt a few episodes of the Bachelor will scar her forever. Lighten up you guys!

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TDW May 18, 2009 at 8:02 pm

I would NEVER let my children, of any age, living under my roof watch a television show as offensive as the Bachelor.

The entire concept of the show paints a picture of many of the social ills of today.

With very little effort you could easily find something more appropriate. So what if you have to miss the show to do what is right by your children – it comes with the job.

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