UPDATE: This story was originally published at 5:00 PM ET on February 11, 2019.
With hometowns looming, interest in Colton's Bachelor contestants' family members is escalating. For one contestant, that might be a bittersweet prospect, because as she revealed during the premiere, Demi's mom was in federal prison "because of embezzlement" and said to be getting out "soon." And while her story is interesting because it sheds light on a reality that is actually quite common in the United States (a 2015 study shows that one in 14 American children have had a parent in prison) and completely uncommon in the Bachelor world, it should also be noted that Demi hasn't done much to make her mom's life central her storyline, and she only appears to have opened up about it because she wanted to tell Colton, the man she's building a relationship with, about her family, and thus her mom.
Let's also consider that the timing of Bachelor filming made for a tough situation for Demi. Because she left home to film the Bachelor, it was possible the first time she'd see her mom out of prison would be with Colton during a hometown date. Now, with those dates just a couple weeks away and Demi still very much in contention for Colton's heart, that possibility looms large.
But the only thing fans truly need to know about Demi's mom, Tina, is that The Bachelor star was willing to open up about a tough situation that so many American families deal with every day. Demi didn't share that much information about her mom on the show, keeping most of the details private, and she's under no obligation to do anything more than that.
"I know you've seen such a bold fun crazy side of me, but there is a whole other side of me nobody knows about," Demi told Colton during the Singapore episode. "This week actually my mom was released from federal prison. Having to see someone you love so much be stuck in a place where they don't want to be and going through all of that stuff, you just want to take like them out of it." She added, "My mom might be really messed up, but that woman loves me so much, and like no matter what she does, I love her unconditionally."
Colton, who's actually been nailing it with kind responses to sensitive situations this season, left his judgement at the door. Fans can definitely take a lesson from his answer to Demi's story: "I know that's not easy to talk about and I just want you to know like I'm not judging that at all," Colton said. "You've been able to turn what most people wouldn't be able to turn into positive or optimistic situation, so it takes a pretty special person to be able to do that."
Demi later said in a confessional that it felt good to get that off her chest and tell Colton, but she also tweeted about the fact that it was really hard for her to do:
Update: But that's not the only time Demi opened up about her mom. During the group date in Vietnam, Demi took a big step in her relationship with Colton by introducing him to her mom — via phone. Demi hadn't talked to her mom since her release from prison, so she was apparently granted special permission from the producers to telephone her with Colton by her side.
The conversation was brief, but sweet. Colton opened it up by telling Demi's mom (whose name is Tina) that she had "raised a fabulous daughter." Tina agreed, saying "She is definitely amazing." Demi told her mom she was missing her so much but that she was proud of her for working on herself and glad that she was back home. "I’ve been worried about you," Demi said. "I’m good. I’m really really good," Tina reassured her daughter.
Demi thought that the first time she got to see her mom again would be with Colton during hometowns, but she'll actually be seeing her sooner. After Demi confessed that she was falling in love with Colton, he gently told her that he just didn't see himself getting to that point with her. Rather than put her through a rose ceremony, he sent her home that night.
She was understandably upset and emotional, especially coming after such a memorable moment of talking to her mother with Colton by her side. Demi thanked Colton for being honest with her, but she had a tearful exit, where she told cameras that this is why she's shied away from relationships — it's just been too painful for her. But even though it didn't have the outcome she wanted, Demi should be proud of her journey on the show.
Demi may be young, but she's been very mature about her relationship with Colton. She opened up to him about her mother because she's dating him and wanted to let him into her life. But she's also refrained from spilling too many details on national television, perhaps in an attempt to protect her mother's privacy as well. After all, it is her mother's story and not Demi's, so while Demi may have signed up to have her love story recorded for all to see, her mother's story isn't automatically fair game, too.
And now that Demi's journey is over, she and her mom deserve to reunite in peace and away from public attention. Demi already shared so much of her life and her heart with America, so now that she's been eliminated, it's for her to regroup with her family and figure out what's next for her post-show. And if she wants to do that out of the limelight, none of us should judge that. Colton sure isn't.