Dads that threaten their daughter’s future dates annoy me

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.


  1. Agreed. I like to say that it’s not enough to smell a rotten egg. You have to lay a better one. The rotten egg here is the misguided attempt of fathers to threaten. I agree, that egg is rotten. Now, let’s lay a better one. I hear your point about teaching daughters to stick up for themselves and to encourage them, but I’d like to suggest that we can lay an even better egg than that.

    I have 3 daughters, and the oldest is only 7. Even at this young age, I let them know that some day boys are going to want to hang out with them. What I tell them about that time is that any boy who wants to hang out with them is going to do so by hanging out with our whole family. He can participate in our family culture and learn what it is like and see my vision for my family. It takes the pressure off my daughters to figure out if this is a boy they should hang out with or not, because our whole family is involved in that.

    In addition, I intentionally spend special and intentional time with each of my daughters individually every week. Some call this daddy/daughter dates. Others get creeped out by the use of the term “date” in reference to a dad and a daughter. I don’t care what it’s called, I just know that I’m showing my daughters now what it’s like to hang out with a man how knows them, loves them, accepts them no matter what, cherishes them, protects them, and provides for them. If they spend their whole youth getting acquainted with that, then I’m betting that a boy who just wants to take her out for a good time isn’t going to look too appealing.

    I don’t need bullets or boots to threaten a young lad. I’m just letting him know that he needs to rise to the standard I set. Anyone who bails out after hearing that wasn’t worthy of my daughter anyway. Anyone who stays around after that would make a fine companion for my infinitely precious daughter.

  2. Love the blog. I’ve nominated you for a Liebster award. Pop over to my blog Time Out Raising Chill-dren to find out more.

  3. Great Post Jason. I know I am guilty of some of this. Not the excessive violence, but certainly the over-exaggerated bravado with regard to potential suitors. Its all bluster and those that know me well know it. I think it makes us feel as though we have some control over something that we have no actual control over – how someone else’s son will behave. Its my hope to raise my girls to choose the boys that will treat her with respect as I am sure you are doing with your daughter. Having no sons, I am certainly biased, however the huffing and puffing can be cathartic. I know my wife is rolling her eyes on the inside and no one really takes me seriously (which, by the way. hey! not cool!) but it feels good in a moment. We all want out daughters to be happy and this will come at my expense someday and I will let it happen. For now, I like to growl and pretend it means something.

  4. This is exactly how I’ve been feeling about the same memes — “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.” So very well said. Love this.

  5. Yes to all of this! My mom once provided an “application to date my daughter” to my then-teen sister’s new suitor. It cracked me up then, but as mom to a (young but so far thoughtful) son, I am a little less amused. I’ve seen the same messages you reference and also thought about the potential discussions I might have with other parents someday . . . as a mom and as a woman who would like to see women–including young ones–as autonomous actors instead of objects merely acted upon by others. Ugh on all counts! My husband has even made a few jokes about himself in such a situation if our second child is a daughter. Nope. Just nope.

  6. I had a mom call me all sorts of name when I called asking for her son. And all of it was in Spanish! When the boy got on the phone I was livid. I told the boy that it was going to be a short conversation because his mom had disrespected someone she did not know. It was the first and last time I called him. My dad was also a jerk to all of our first boyfriends. After I started college, I told him that the next guy he would meet would be the man I was going to marry. So if I went on a date, I would tell the guy to wait in the car and not even come to my front door. I didn’t want to be embarrassed or have the guy humiliated. I think parent’s want to show their balls and still be in control of their children. I am learning that even with my three year old, she has a mind of her own. As long as we guide her to do what she feels is right, then I will respect any man or woman she decides to date.

  7. I totally agree, but I don’t think you go far *enough*. These dads’ attitudes just perpetuate the awful, awful ideas that:

    Girls need to be protected, boys don’t.
    Girls are a prize to be won by boys.
    A girl’s sexuality belongs to her father for safekeeping until he gives it to a worthy man.
    Any sex that happens between teenagers is the “fault” of the boy.

    It just goes on and on and on.

    I hope my daughter (she’s 8) grows up to learn to make healthy, self-respecting choices with sexual partners who have earned her trust, and I hope she eventually has an enjoyable sex life just like I hope she has an enjoyable spiritual life, job life, etc. It *is* my business to teach her and help her to make those choices by being the kind of father that can set an example for how she should expect future suitors to treat her. But once she’s old enough to fully understand the consequences of her choices…her sex life is *not* my business. It’s hers. And it’s an insult to her to imply otherwise.

  8. I love dads who stick up for & protect their daughters. I think you should stop bad mouthing them and instead teach your boys to stick up for & protect their daughters too. That’s the man’s job in the relationship!! I’m teaching my boys to be just like their father who loves and cherishes me & their sister. Yes, I’m teaching my daughter to stand up for herself, but there’s too much talk about equality today. Old-fashioned chivalry is the best!!!

    1. Sticking up for my daughter means taking her side when I think she’s been treated badly or unfairly. It does not mean threatening (even jokingly) violence to men (I assume we’re talking about straight girls here) who might someday want to have or actually have sex with her. Equating those two implies that having sex is necessarily bad or unfair treatment of a girl. It’s not.

      (P.S. Yes, I’m presuming consensual sex, of course. Non-consensual sex is a misnomer…it’s not sex; it’s violence, and *of course* I will stick up for her and do what I can to protect her from any kind of violence.)

    2. No female needs her dad to protect her. She needs her mother. Her mother and dad do that together. Stop exalting dads like that.

  9. You’ve made so many really good points here. The thing that I don’t get about the sort of dad you describe is how they’d react if they had a son who was treated the way that they talk about treating their daughter’s boyfriends.

  10. Jason, as usual you bring me a perspective I wasn’t seeing on my own. Having a son and a daughter, you’d think I would have made the connection of how I’d want me son treated by his potential in-laws. Thanks for the reminder! As well as all the other comments, all helpful discussion.

    1. Thank you. I wrote it after reading a meme and wondered how I will feel if someone mistreats by sons someday by a person that they should respect.

  11. As the mother of 3 sons this blog is much appreciated. I can assure you that when your son gets hurt by a girl he thinks he’s in love with, you feel just as protective of him as you would a daughter. You did a great job putting that into perspective.

  12. Its not the boys u have to worry about anymore in this day of age, but to all us parents out there if the child is raised right in the right way there no worry lol rught there r kids and we will worry for life just help them along as best u can.

  13. Love your blog. I dated a girl whos dad threatened to kill me. He also owned a gun illegally because he was arrested for beating his wife. He later commited suicide. I find these “jokes” very offensive and cannot see how its good parenting for a dad to protect his daughter’s “virtue”

  14. I agree with you completely. I guess it makes some of the fathers feel tough and macho to threaten a 16 year old kid. I wonder how some of the fathers would feel if the guys mother would threaten their little princess.

  15. As a father of both boys and girls (now all adults) I couldn’t agree more. The surest way to get an adolescent to do something is to say you disapprove of it and that some unspecified bad things will happen to you if you try to do it. Make something the forbidden fruit and you make it unbelievably attractive to them. Want to lock horns with a young buck? Profess to exert dominance over the object of their quarry and just watch the up-and-comers test out the alpha male that you present yourself to be. Respect is earned AND learned and fathers are in a unique position to teach both sexes about being respected and being respectful.

  16. First of all many men seem to think that this is their job all my themselves, but someone needs to tell the men that their wives are the mother of their daughters and he the dad is not the only parent. When a woman becomes pregnant, the baby now is both their baby, not the dad’s alone. Dad, how do you think the baby daughter got here?
    Why do men think they are to dominate the raising up of children all by themselves. The bringing up of children belongs to both. the mother and the father. Bothgive direction and guidance.
    So mothers out their need to remind their husbands that do not approve of violence.

    1. Jean,
      I have to agree with you. Your post makes sense. When’s female is a girl, if her dad is trying to take matters into his own hands and control the daughter, without the mother having a voice, the daughter will forever allow men to dominate and boss her around. Mothers have got to step up and tell their husbands to calm down. He is not the boss of your daughter. Sounds creepy sometimes. Back up dads and see your wives.

  17. As a man, even when I was a teenager, I never believed the lie that all teenage men want is sex. It is EXTREMELY DISGUSTING!!!!!!! Throughout my life, I’ve met women who enjoyed sex more than men!!!!!! And as a former substitute teacher, stuff like this the reason why sex education in this country has to change from this “abstinence-only, continue the gender stereotypes” horse crap needs to die. If women want to have sex and like it, LET THEM!!!!!!

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