Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Some Thoughts on "RULES FOR DATING MY DAUGHTER"
I recently saw this photo on Facebook. I'll admit that this briefly resonated with me on a certain level. Then I remembered that my daughter is her own person and this is very nearly the worst advice any father could take.
Let me break it down point by point.
RULES FOR DATING MY DAUGHTER
Really? Must we have rules for everything? I'm sick of rules. Rules almost always have unintended consequences, plus there are often very good and valid reasons for breaking them. Can't we just deal with situations as they occur with levelheaded reason?
1. Get a job.
Sure. If you're not in high school or college or getting your post-graduate degree or in the Peace Corps. Ideally, I'd like my daughter's boyfriend to be able to support himself by earning his own income.
2. Understand I don't like you.
This seems unnecessarily harsh and confrontational. Understand that I may not like you if you give me reason to not like you. However, I won't hate you simply because you're dating my daughter. I plan to raise a daughter who is smart enough to make her own decisions and if she likes you, I'm going to give you a chance because I trust my daughter to make good decisions.
3. I'm everywhere.
I'm not everywhere. Hell, I'm not even most places. In fact, I'll mostly be where you aren't unless I've decided to become terribly creepy in my old age.
4. You hurt her, I hurt you.
How very Old Testament. I'm not a violent person. If you assault my daughter I will call the authorities. If you assault my daughter in my presence, I will step in. You may be hurt in the process. However, my goal will not be to hurt you but to subdue you.
If you break my daughter's heart, I will not attempt to break your heart. Most likely I won't carry enough weight in your life to inflict the kind of emotional pain on you that you were able to inflict upon my daughter. You will walk away from this unharmed, physically. Why? Because I know that heartbreak is a part of love. Everyone needs to have their heart broken. Everyone needs to experience the pain of a breakup. It will hurt me to see this happen to my daughter but I know it will make her stronger and that she will learn a valuable lesson.
5. Be home 30 minutes early.
Look, it's my daughter's responsibility to be home when we tell her to be home. I don't expect her to be 30 minutes early. If she is, that's great. If I wanted her home at 11:30 PM I wouldn't tell her to be home at midnight. This is dumb and manipulative. I will say what I mean and not expect you to guess what I mean. If I'm unclear, it's my fault.
6. Get a lawyer.
This is probably good advice for everyone. It's good to have some legal representation in case you need it at some point. How this applies to dating my daughter, I don't know. Have they introduced extra paperwork into the dating scene since I started dating my wife back in 2005?
7. If you lie to me, I will find out.
Maybe. I might find out. There's a good chance I won't find out. I will expect you to be honest with me, though. If I do find out that you lied to me, things will get much harder for you when it comes to dating my daughter -- depending upon what you lied to me about. I'm more concerned about you lying to my daughter. If you give a damn about her at all, you'll always be honest with her even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard. Both I and my daughter will thank you for it later.
8. She's my princess, not your conquest.
NO. SHE'S NEITHER OF THOSE THINGS. She's a woman. A human being. She's not to be put upon a pedestal and held to impossible standards and she's not an object to be owned. She's another person just like you and me. No, she's not like you and me; she's probably smarter than you and me and way more in touch with her emotions than either of us. We'd probably do well to shut the hell up and let her make a few rules of her own.
9. I don't mind going back to jail.
I've never been to jail, so this doesn't make much sense to me. I can't really judge jail but it doesn't seem like the kind of place I'd like to go to for assault (or murder?) of a minor -- which is what this implies. I'm not sure how this is relevant.
10. Whatever you do to her, I will do to you.
GROSS. GROSS. This is the creepiest thing I've ever read. Also, how is this different than #4? In the end, it's just one of six completely empty threats on this list (the others: 2, 4, 6, 7, 9). That's right. Over half of this list are thinly veiled threats. It's the kind of macho posturing that perpetuates the stereotype of the helpless woman.
I understand that dads feel powerless when it comes to who their daughters date. Lashing out at the boys/men that your daughter chooses to go out with is not the answer. It's only going to make your daughter miserable and eventually she'll resent you. When that happens, she'll cut you out of her life entirely and you'll be left without a daughter that you profess to care about so much.
I want my daughter to be happy. If it means she has to make some mistakes and suffer some heartbreak to get there, then I'll just have to deal with it. Sure, watching my daughter date may make me uncomfortable but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make if I get to see her find love.
All of this posturing is ridiculous. That's why I'll have only one rule:
1. Who my daughter dates isn't about me. It's about my daughter.