Friday, February 15, 2013

Teenage Daughters, Dating, & Meeting the Parents

“Parents are like God because you wanna know they're out there, and you want them to think well of you, but you really only call when you need something.” –Chuck Palahnuik
Well, single fathers, your daughters who, it seems, were only very recently wearing princess costumes, playing with dolls, and looking up at you with those big, round, puppy dog eyes making you melt every time, are now teenagers. Whereas you had been the center of their universe, at least as it related to their experience with “boys,” now your little girls have now begun to notice members of the opposite gender in their class and in their other social circles. They’ve even started talking about dating or, perhaps, already started.

Beautiful Daughters Sharing a Chair at CitiField (2011)
Oofah. Pass the Pepcid.
Gentlemen, have you been a role model for your daughters as it pertains to their expectations for a boy’s, and as they mature into women, a man’s behavior toward them? Do your young ladies have the expectation that the boys in their lives treat them with such often outmoded ideals as respect, good manners, and chivalry? I certainly hope so.
Recently, one of my beautiful daughters asked me if she could go to a boy’s house one weekend afternoon to “hang out” with some friends. I tell my all three of my kids, “I’m all about the, ‘Yes.’” So, I said, “Yes,” but I predicated my answer upon either knowing or meeting the parents of the friend at whose house the party would be. My beautiful daughter answered, “Dad, do you always have to meet the parents of my friends? It’s embarrassing.”
In spite of the fact that my beautiful daughters are high on the responsibility scale for their ages, my answer to her question was, of course, “Yes.”
First and most obviously, I want to make sure that the environment where my daughter is spending her time is safe. I don’t believe I’m a “helicopter parent,” constantly hovering over his children and not allowing opportunities for their personal, emotional, and social growth. Rather, I’m communicating to my daughter that I care about what they do and where they go because I love her. Second, by virtue of the fact that I’ve taken the time to walk my beautiful daughter to the door, smile, and say, “Hi, I’m . . .,” I’m communicating more than just a greeting. The subtext I convey is that I’m a gentleman, my daughter is a lady, and we have the respect for you and your family to take the time to care who you are. In return, we expect the same consideration. Finally, I’m talking with my daughter through my actions both how to respect a woman and a gentleman takes the time to make sure that the women in his life can safely take advantage of all the opportunities presented to them.
For some reason, my daughter decided not to go to the party. I didn’t press for a reason. A few days later and quite by accident, however, I learned that there had been some moderately nefarious activities that took place that afternoon. I like to think that my behavior set a standard for my daughter and, in my daughter’s mind, the people at that party who may have not made good decisions did not live up to it.
Yeah, I know that the person I am sometimes makes my children, in particular, my teenage daughters, crazy. They don’t always understand the reasons I do the things I do, but they’re still young and don’t have experience and context.
When my teenage daughters were my little princesses, dressing up and playing with dolls, I held their hand in busy parking lots or in the midst of big crowds of people because they didn’t have the perspective to see the dangers that might hurt them if they weren’t careful. Eventually, my young ladies will have that perspective. For now, though, I’ll still hold their hands.
Beautiful Daughters sharing a chair a la Stade Olympique in Montreal (2001)