Men have been doing it for decades. For as long as I can remember anyway, the trope has always been present of the girl getting ready for a fun-filled evening while her date sits downstairs in the family room awkwardly watching HIS date’s father clean a shotgun. This tradition, at least as old as the baby-boomer generation, is meant to instill fear in the young man’s heart of what various torments this father has devised for any little upstart who would dare to hurt his sweet little innocent princess. It’s a cornerstone of teenage culture.
Not in my house, though. Want to know why? There are a few problems I have with this obnoxious image, and most of them boil down to – You guessed it! – the freedom, dignity and self-agency of a girl/woman.
My mission is to raise an adult woman
Please give this article a read some time.
I really enjoy the distinction between the role of Superman and the role of Gandalf the Grey. Superman flies in and rescues, regardless of the situation. Then he waits until his damsel is in distress again and rescues her again. In contrast, Gandalf took his charges and taught them. He knew that eventually he would be gone, and that the Hobbits would need to fend for themselves. He taught them BEFORE they encountered problems. He left them to fight other battles and take care of other matters. He only intervened when he knew they were unable to handle the situation.
This is SO applicable to raising daughters. I am not going to be here forever. I can’t be everywhere at once. I am not superman. I wouldn’t want to be superman. I am quite simply unable to step in and fix every. single. thing. Frankly, it isn’t even remotely my job as a father to do that. I’m not going to be there at every point of my daughters’ dates. I’m not going to take from her the God-given right to make decisions about her own relationships. I will spend the years of her adolescence teaching her to handle it herself (you know, like adults do). I’ll teach her all this because… because it’s the right thing to do. Adults make these sorts of decisions, and she need to know how.
I have more respect for my daughter than this.
Really, I hope to have taught my daughter enough about men, romance, sex, etc by this point that the idea of me standing between her and the gate to the dating world as an armed guard is an insult to her. These decisions will be hers to make when the time comes, not mine. If I fail to prepare my daughters for that moment in the hope that I will get to make that decision for them, I’ve shown no more respect for them than a terrible boyfrend. When it comes down to it, as scary as it sounds, I have no bearing on my daughter’s decision about sex, marriage, love, etc beyond what I’ve taught her up to that point. I’ll teach her what Scripture tells us about sex as well as whatever information she needs to avoid being forced upon, and that influence is all I get. I hope she makes certain choices, of course, but they are her choices to make. My “control” ends after giving her full disclosure and knowledge about the choices before her.
I have more respect for her relationship choices than this
My daughter will be able to spot a creep. Do you know why? Because even at 8 years old, when I see a creep I’ll explain to her what it is that makes him one. When she is young, I’ll teach her what a kind man is by doing my best to model this for her. I’ll try my best to ingrain her mind with the red flags I use, indications I know about. That way, I will be able to know that she makes good decisions about her friends, and about her relationships. She will learn that it isn’t boys that she needs to be afraid of, it’s bad behaviors that she needs to look out for. I’ll keep tabs on her, of course, but when I see something of concern I’ll talk to her about it. I’ll share these concerns with her so that she can keep an eye out too. Doesn’t it seem better for a daughter to get a heads-up from Dad, notice a red flag as a result, and make the appropriate relationship decision than for Dad to dictate the decision to her? I may be nuts, but it sure seems to me that a daughter will be more open to Dad’s advice that way.
I have more respect for the laws of my country than this
I live in the United States, where I can be fairly certain that if I carry out any sort of threat involving physical violence I will wind up in jail at the very least. If some thug gets through both of our screens and does something to my daughter, I’m going to follow the correct legal procedures and do what it takes to put him behind bars. It doesn’t do my daughter any good at all for me to wind up there myself. I will pursue this with every ounce of my will and every penny I have until my daughter gets justice. Anyone who knows me outside of this blog can testify to my single-mindedness and focus when it comes to the safety of my girls. You haven’t seen anything yet. I will go to my grave pursuing this if I have to, not because she is my daughter, but because she is a human being who has been violated.
I live under the law of my God as well, and I don’t see anything in the Scriptures that allows me to hunt a man down and kill him in cold blood as revenge, even for my daughter. I know some of you will want to debate about the morality of taking a life in certain circumstances, but the fact is I just don’t see it in this case. If I catch him in the act I will of course do everything I have to in order to protect my daughter from abuse or rape. However an act of pre-meditated bodily harm or murder is entirely different, and morally inexcusable. Threatening to do this, therefore, is childish and makes me a fool (and indeed, in some jurisdictions could warrant a citation as well).
So in essence…
No, I’m not going to threaten my daughters’ dates with bodily harm. Will I have discussions with them to gauge how seriously they take the subject of consent? Will I try to get a sense whether their beliefs about sex line up with what my daughter and I believe? Of course. However, I really prefer to go about this in an adult fashion. Things will go much better that way.