I don’t think any parent looks forward to their child’s early dating years. But we do aim to prepare them to be considerate, empowered and kind—regardless of their gender. So, why do so many of us jokingly uphold the myth that girls can’t stand up for themselves and all boys are trouble?
J. Warren Welch, a father of five daughters, had enough of that “sitting on my porch with a shotgun” narrative. And based on the nearly 19,000 shares his Facebook message has received in the four days it’s been posted, it seems many others agree.
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With a blended family that includes five daughters ranging in age from 16 to 7, Welch said he’s heard his fair share of jokes about “protecting” them from potential suitors. He just wasn’t buying it—both because he trusts his daughters and their abilities to go out with worthy guys.
“I understand the urge to protect your daughters,” Welch told TODAY Parents about his viral message. “I get that. But the kind of posturing by fathers of daughters I was specifically responding to had nothing to do with that ‘protective instinct’ and everything to do with asserting their dominance over women and reinforcing a belief that women need men to take care of them.”
On the flip side, I’ve also heard plenty of playful warnings that my son better keep his hands to himself—and he hasn’t even celebrated his second birthday. Even though I may kindly laugh in the moment, these jokes aren’t just insulting to my son, they’re insulting to my husband and myself. Like all parents, we’re out to raise a kind person who knows how to handle himself and treat others with respect. And if it takes intimidation with a shotgun to put him in place, then we’re the ones who have gone wrong.
So when the day comes we send him or any future daughter out on a date, my husband and I will have the same discussion with them: Respect others. Respect yourself. And have fun. Rather than polishing a shotgun, we’ll probably be watching a movie with our feet kicked up when they get home.