Yes some people think this is funny. This whole “overprotective dad” thing makes my skin crawl. I have a daughter. She has a dad. A dad that 100% adores her. I can’t think of anything he wouldn’t do for her. And that includes helping to raise her to be a confident, independent young lady that has common sense and doesn’t need her dear old dad hanging out on the stoop with a toothpick in his mouth and a shot gun in his hand trying to intimidate potential suitors. And what kind of message do these “jokes” send to our daughters? That we don’t trust them or their judgement? That boys are animals that needs to be kept in line? If my daughter hears, from her dad, that boys can’t be trusted then imagine what she must think of her dad – who is a boy.
I understand the instinct to protect our kids. I know that as well as anyone. I don’t ever want my daughter to hurt. But she has, and she will. This is inevitable. As parents it’s just as much our job to teach our kids how to protect themselves as it is for us to do that for them. Obviously as children get older the more that role shifts from us to them. The truth is my daughter is just as likely to be hurt by a girlfriend as she is from a boy. Friendships can cause heartbreak. She’s only five now and already I see the beginnings of that delicate balance that is being a kid and learning the ins and outs of fostering relationships with schoolmates.
Let’s talk about sex. Because we all know this is part of the equation. Sexuality, learning about it, exploring it, these are all parts of being a teenager. That doesn’t mean you have to have sex. But you can’t stop puberty and all that goes with it. And this isn’t just a boy thing. Teenage girls are every bit as curious about sex as teenage boys are. They have questions. Luckily we have answers. There is nobody in a better position to talk to kids about sex and puberty and all the complicated stuff that surrounds it than parents. So stop threatening and start talking. Teach your daughters about boundaries and consent. Teach her to trust her instincts and how to best remove herself from an uncomfortable situation. Teach her to call you at any time for any reason.
We shouldn’t let our daughters believe “boys will be boys” and what that implies. How about people will be people? Most are good and kind and don’t intentionally hurt others. If we teach our girls that boys just naturally need to be threatened to “stay in line” then we lead them right into paths of hurt and abuse. Because if they believe that boys are just inherently hurtful, abusive, inconsiderate, etc then they are going to accept that’s just the way it is. And this message is just as harmful for boys as it is for girls.
Dads, be there for your daughters. Teach them all the things. Let them earn your trust. And then trust them. They will get hurt. We all do. Boys and girls. Make promises. Promise that you will always be there when she needs you. That you will always be on her side. And remember when a young man arrives on your door step to take your daughter out, that “hurt my daughter” threat, even if you try and pass it off as a joke, may just make a respectable suitor think twice about dating a girl with a father like that.