Dads, Daughters, and Dating

Boys are after only one thing.

I’ll be here, cleaning this gun.

I’ve got 7 acres and an alibi.

I’m really irritated by the number of memes, posts, comments, and one-liners talking about how we as dads will treat any young man that comes “cattin’ around” to date our daughter as a stray dog that needs to be sprayed with the garden hose until he goes away. The recurring theme is almost universally that these idiots at our door are miscreants and criminals, each seeking to spoil our daughter’s untarnished state with their lascivious lusting. And while I will agree that boys are in many ways after only one thing, there are also a lot of factors involved in how that young man came to be on our doorstep.

First and foremost, it takes two to tango. By tango, I’m not just insinuating a sexual relationship. I mean in general, in any relationship, it begins and ends with two people. That boy at the door has a lot to do with it. But also it is our daughter that is planning to go out with him. Why did she choose him? Who is he to her? She likely chose that young man for a good reason, and if we as fathers look at him as worthless then what are we saying about how we view our daughter? Or how we view her ability to make decisions?

I plan to trust my daughters as they go out into the world. Like watching them take their first toddling steps and letting them fall, they will make many mistakes in all facets of life. But I plan to raise smart, educated, self-confident young women. If my daughter brings home someone she believes she loves then I plan to accept him as such. I will help her if she needs it. I will warn her of any dangers I see. But she is the one making the decision at that point, and as long as it causes her no lasting harm I plan to let her make it with my full support.

Secondly, I think of the saying that a dad is his daughter’s first boyfriend. Not being creepy there but instead alluding to the fact that daughters learn about relationships with men by watching their father. How he speaks to her, how he speaks to her mom, and how he treats women in any relationship all bond together to teach her how she should expect to be treated by men. If I am angry all the time, and yell at her with every breath, then I am forming that as a ‘home’ relationship. A safe place she will always seek out later in life. That is what she will expect men to do to her and even if she finds a ‘good man’ someday who isn’t angry or yells at her, she won’t know how to respect his love. Or possibly even accept it.

Conversely, if I treat my daughters with respect, listen to them when they speak, nurture their self-confidence, and honor who they are as young women then they will expect that from other men as well. Whoever shows up at my door to take my daughter out will then be someone who I should be able to respect. I won’t need to demand that he get her home by 9:00PM on threat of death, because he will know to do so. I won’t need to worry that he is going to take advantage of her intimately or that he is ‘after only one thing’ because she will have likely chosen a young man who will respect her boundaries. And she will have the self-confidence to know she can say no and still be loved.


Hopefully, my daughters will find someone who treats them like I have treated them. Or better. Because whoever shows up at my door to take my daughter out on a date is going to be a reflection of me. I want that reflection to be a loving, kind, wise person who will love them in a healthy way. I will certainly expect a lot out of him. I expect a lot out of myself. Dads do that. And daughters see it.


2 thoughts on “Dads, Daughters, and Dating

  1. Thank you. And aside from how our daughters are intelligent creatures whose choices reflect their upbringing, as a mother of four boys, I also resent the idea that my son would automatically be viewed as a person worthy only of contempt and suspicion. I work hard every day to bring up my boys to be men who respect everyone (women included, obviously) and men who I would be proud to have marry or date someone’s daughter. They will also make mistakes, but I hope I have raised them to admit it when they do, apologize and Make Things Right.

    At any rate. Yes. Thank you for writing this. I cringe every time I see those memes.


  2. I love seeing you write so passionately about your children, and I couldn’t agree more with your sentiment here, especially knowing you have both daughters and sons. Well said!


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