New Idea parenting columnist Angela Mollard shares her opinion.
As a paid-up member of Team Nikki, I may not agree with all of Richie Strahan’s choices.
But The Bachelor is spot on in his decision not to meet his girlfriend’s son.
Both he and Alex Nation have shown commendable restraint in allowing five-year-old Elijah time to come to terms with his mum dating a new man.
At the Melbourne Cup yesterday, Alex revealed she was reluctant to introduce her beau to her boy because he “doesn’t understand it all”.
As she said: ‘We’re taking it very, very slow.’
Everything about the Bachelor franchise moves fast. Boy meets two dozen girls. Boy goes on dates with girls (and camera operators, sound engineers and producers). Boy kisses girl (for cameras). Boy stares lingering in girl’s eyes (for cameras). Girl says he loves girl. Kapow! Happy ever after.
Except out in the real world love doesn’t work like that. It’s not fancy dates in Ferraris and champagne on tap. It’s laundry and child tantrums and crappy days at work. It’s also little kids getting used to the change in their parents’ lives.
I was always uncomfortable with the haste with which former bachelor Sam Wood was introduced to Snezana Markoski’s daughter Eve. Before Sam had even chosen Snezana, Sam met Eve, then nine. She asked him: ‘How much do you like my mum out of ten?’
While many would argue it was important to see if the pair got on, what if Sam hadn’t chosen Snezana? What a confusing message to send a little girl – your mum’s not good enough? Fortunately Sam did choose Snezana and it appears to be working out with the couple now engaged and the trio living together.
Alex has chosen to be far more cautious and in doing so she’s not only giving her son time to get used to the situation, she’s also giving her new relationship the best chance. Richie has revealed he’s spoken on the phone to Elijah but as he told the Daily Telegraph: ‘We want to do it in the right way in our own time so it is something that we are working on.’
He’s also said he was planning on moving from West Australia to Melbourne but would not move in with Alex straight away because that “would be a little too much for the little fella.”
Smart man. Too often people fresh out of relationships or heady with infatuation foist their new partner on their kids. It’s bonkers – for lots of reasons. Kids shouldn’t meet new partners until the relationship is well-established, even if that means waiting a year. Often kids are hoping their parents will get back together and can find the introduction of a new person too confronting. Equally, the parent needs to establish whether their new love interest is actually capable of being a step parent or live in partner.
Psychotherapist and parenting expert Dr Karen Phillip also points out that some children are very keen to see their parent in a new relationship. ‘Children can become very attached to a new person, especially if the relationship they had with their other parent is distant or ended. Children may latch on to the new partner and become devastated again if they leave. I suggest three months minimum into the new relationship but even longer is better.’
While Alex’s son is clearly close with his dad and his new partner, it’s still important to take time.
So good on you Richie and Alex. Hope it works out … for all of you.