My boysThere’s a theme circulating the internet right now – dads writing about how guys better treat their daughters right.  I’ve seen it on t-shirts, tweets, Facebook messages, and other places. The posts usually include a reference to the father’s guns, bullets, and, sometimes, boots. A bullet point list outlines the expectations and usually ends with a comment that if some boy mistreats their daughter in any way, then the above-mentioned guns/bullets/boots will be used on said guy. These are well-meaning dads that want to display their devotion to their daughters, I’m sure. And as the father of a little girl, I get it.

I understand the love you have for your daughter, but let me be clear, if you mistreat my boys when they show up to your 1950’s doorstep to take your daughter out on a date, you’ll have to answer to me. I do not take disrespect lightly and that rings true from adult to child. I’m teaching my sons and daughter to respect others, so don’t be a jerk and act like a tough guy when my boys come around your girls.

Because you know what? If you act that way, they won’t come around and your daughter will probably sneak out to meet them anyway.

I get it. I get that you want to preserve your daughter’s innocence. That you want to be the only man in your daughter’s life. But you won’t be. So instead of bragging about your guns and the “whooping” you’re going to do if some boy breaks her heart or mistreats her, teach your daughter to stick up for herself and others. To be wise and independent. To be a challenge. To be smart and courageous. To value her own image and hold it in high self-esteem. To make good choices. To hold on to something that’s worth waiting for (and that means having “The Talk” with them). That’s what I’m teaching my girl… and my boys.

So go ahead and post your blah blah blah and that you have blah blah blah and you’ll do blah blah blah if some guy does blah blah blah.

But might I suggest, instead, that you quit talking and start raising. (And encouraging, for that matter.) Throwing out ridiculous threats won’t stop boys and girls from doing anything. The best way to protect them is to raise them to make good decisions for themselves.  Have frank discussions about the risks of engaging in certain behaviors and the benefits of waiting for the one that may change their lives for the better. And you don’t want to risk scaring away the person that could do that.