Dad's Protector Predicament

“The first time a boy comes calling on my daughter, I’ll be out on the front porch just casually cleaning my shotgun. Because I was his age once; I know what he’s after and I want him to know it.” - Tony

Fearing the risks and dangers girls confront nowadays, we dads and stepdads long to engineer a single word or action powerful enough to protect our daughters.

If only a shotgun could do the trick!

Unfortunately, it does more harm than good.

This overprotective shotgun-on-the-porch attitude tells a daughter: “Daddy doesn't really trust me. He doesn't have faith in my choice of friends or my ability to choose good friends. He doesn’t believe there are any decent boys out there anyway.”

It tells a daughter’s romantic interest: “This girl's father expects me to be a predator. Whether or not he knows me, if I am calling on his daughter, he sees me as a danger. He thinks that’s how all boys are, and maybe how all boys should be. He’s also telling me that the way to address fears or solve serious problems is with violence or the threat of violence”

This puts us in a touch sport. After all, our fatherly fears are not idle, foolish or unjustified; they are based in reality -- for example, one in three girls (and one in five boys) will be sexually abused by the time they are adults. Some adolescent girls really do get pregnant, catch STDs and encounter other difficulties that last a lifetime.

But the source of our fears is not the boy walking up the front steps, and the solution is not the shotgun. The culprit is a culture that glorifies violence against women and girls, romanticizes rape, and counts the pseudo-sexualization of children as an acceptable marketing strategy.

Even before romances start, it’s smart to look back into our own adolescence and find the “real boy in there,” which was NOT entirely about scoring with ever girl we met.

Sure, some of it was physical, but most of it was really wanting to be close to a girl, discover what girls are like, have a friend. It was exciting. It was confusing and scary, but it was great!  I want to share that with my daughter, the good and the bad, from the boy’s perspective.  And I can do it, too; she listens to me.  I feel like that’s a pretty big bit of information, a gift really, that I can give her and that nobody else can. I’ll be able to tell her what boys her age are thinking.” - Jim

Just as we didn’t grow up as girls, our daughters are not growing up as boys. We can share with our daughter our knowledge and expertise about what it's like to be a boy. That’s priceless to a girl trying to decode the mysterious minds of the “opposite sex.”

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