I am not the father who will have the shotgun prominently displayed when the first boy shows up to take my daughter out.
In fact, I think that macho posturing is reprehensible. She does not owe me her chastity; I am not the owner of her “virtue.” You will not find me posing in pictures with her date, saying “anything you do to her, I get to do to you.” You will not find me wearing those disgusting “10 Rules for Dating My Daughter” tee shirts. You sure as hell will not find me at a “purity” ball, where my daughter pledges her virginity to me until her marriage. Does it even get creepier than that? Also, where the hell do we get off saying that virginity is “virtuous,” and “pure,” but only force it on our daughters?
No, instead, you’ll find me teaching my daughter to respect herself, hopefully helping her in making good decisions about the people she wants in her life in any capacity. You’ll find me consoling her when she gets it wrong, and cheering her on when she strives to get it right. You’ll find me giving her honest information, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for either of us. And hopefully, you’ll find her choosing to date people who respect her, who will treat her gently and kindly-and not because they are afraid of me, but because they are the kind of people who treat others gently and kindly. You’ll find me teaching her that she is the only person who makes rules regarding her body (unless, alas, the GOP wins the presidency. Those old white dudes seem pretty into making rules for women’s bodies).
It’s not for me to scare your boys, it’s for you to raise them right.
I say all that because the following anecdote may seem contrary, and I didn’t want to give the wrong impression on where I stand on the matter.
A few years ago, the kiddo had a little crush on a boy in school. Totally benign, the way crushes between fifth graders have been and always will be. She was probably ten years old at this point and we had already started discussions about her bodily autonomy and whatnot, so she knew the following was all in good humor. Also the kid she liked (and she would be very clear in saying today that she has no crushes other than Adam Levine) was then and remains a kind, sweet, smart boy who shall remain entirely anonymous.
Regardless, this boy’s mother happens to be an attractive woman who may or may not be a single parent. I never got to know her well enough to say more than “hello,” and pass some small talk when hanging around in the pick-up lines or what have you – but I’d be lying if I said I had never entertained the possibility of her being single. And so, one day, the kiddo and I had a conversation which went something like this:
“[REDACTED] did this funny thing in school today.”
“Oh really? You and [REDACTED] sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!” I am the paragon of maturity.
“Dad! Stop,” she admonished, blushing and likely developing a deep-seated resentment.
“Ok. Sorry. Did you know his mom is single?” You know. She *might* have been single.
“So. You could date [REDACTED] and I could date his mom! It would be so much fun!”
“Seriously. We could all go out to dinner together. You know. Double date.”
At this she sighed, hung her head, and walked down the hallway to her room. Upon reaching her door, she looked up with hang-dog eyes.
“Dad. I’m a single lady,” she said, sighed again, and closed her door.
At the tender age of ten, I had cracked the dad-daughter dating code. I would date the mothers.
And thus, another step on the long march to king of all fathers was taken.