It is one of the oldest jokes in the world and it has about 1,000 variations on the thing. It usually goes something along the lines of, “yes I’m having a daughter and yes I already bought the shotgun.” I have heard this joke so many times that now I just give a polite smile, but it never strikes me as funny anymore. Besides, greeting a young man at the door and threatening with him with a shotgun before he takes your daughter out on a date will likely draw you at least an assault charge if not also a menacing charge, a brandishing charge and, in today’s world, there is also the possibility that the young suitor will actually be better armed than you are.
But, your daughter does want you to defend her. Never let a young man sit in his car, blowing his horn and expecting your daughter to come bounding out – especially if he’s never met you before. Insist on meeting all young men and enforce curfews – even if you have to drive to where she is and bring her home. It will embarrass her but she (and he) will also get the message that you are serious and that if he crosses any lines, you are not hesitant to take action.
Your daughter wants to know the moral code from you and what the rules are and when it is appropriate to have sex and why (Meeker 95). Margaret Meeker, in her book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know, says that you shouldn’t let your own behaviors in high school affect the rules you enforce with her (94).
“Whatever you did then does not disqualify you from being a good father now. Your daughter is at risk. You need to protect her. And honestly, she doesn’t want to hear about your sex life,” Margaret Meeker (94).
Defend your daughters’ right to be a kid (Meeker 97-98). Don’t let Cosmopolitan magazine or the Victoria’s Secret catalog, or moronic Jersey Shore celebrity douche bags decide her moral code. Don’t give in to the “conventional wisdom,” that kids are just going to have sex if they want to anyway and “all their friends are doing it.” It’s not true. Many girls are adrift and looking for guidance, a want good navigator to help her find her way through treacherous waters.
Also, just because you did it (whatever you classify “it” is), that doesn’t mean it was a good idea, even if it did work out for you.
Society, her friends and definitely her boyfriends tell her that they have to have sex to be cool, desired and sophisticated (Meeker 98). I knew these girls in junior high and high school and over the years you could see the toll it took on them. Pretty soon, as Meeker predicts in her book, the repeated sexual acts make love and sex no longer fit together, resulting in sexual satisfaction becoming impossible and girls becoming jaded (Meeker 98).
- If you don’t teach your daughter that she should defer sexual activity, she will start (Meeker 103). Her friends are already having it and her boyfriends, even the nice guys (ESPECIALLY THE NICE GUYS!) will expect it soon after dating (Meeker 103). From personal experience, I can also tell you that if a guy knows that the girl puts out, he will expect it sooner and is more likely to drop her if he doesn’t get it after a few dates. It’s wrong, but it’s just the way it is.
- Be careful when girls start talking about “the one.” Girls often think in these terms (Meeker 106). I think the prince charming syndrome is alive and well. Pretty soon she may sleep with the guy to keep from losing him – fathers, this is the kind of thinking that is both common in teenage girls and that you need to correct (Meeker 107). And guys talk – once a guy has sex with a girl, even if he’s not one to post it on Facebook or Tweet it to the world, then he will definitely tell a friend, ‘in confidence,’ who will then tell another friend in confidence, who will then tell another friend and pretty soon, the reach is farther than had it been put on CNN.
- In many sex ed programs kids are taught to use contraception, but the option of abstinence, or the psychological consequences of having sex too early, is often overlooked. Your daughter gets all sorts of mixed messages about sex – she wants to know what you think, and the research shows that parents who discourage pre-marital, or at least sex before they are out of high school, are less likely to have sex.
Another gift to give our daughters is pragmatism and grit (Meeker 124). Fathers are often the ones who can bring the practical solutions – the action steps – to a problem (Meeker 127). Mom brings the emotion and comfort and understanding, dad figures out how to solve it and move forward. This combination can be very effective in solving everything from homework overload to eating disorders.
Your daughter has a choice and you can help her make it – she can be a Princess or a Pioneer. Princesses are taught to be self-centered (which is why I just LOVE those little kid pageant shows on TV with the overbearing stage moms – is there an emoticon for sarcasm?). If you teach your princess that others exist for her and to serve her needs, she will grow to expect that from everyone (Meeker 128). Instead, if you teach her to be a Pioneer, that life has limits and that not all of her needs and desires can or should be met, she will accept realism and will not live expecting others to serve her (Meeker 128).
Princesses want, princesses take and princesses want more. They demand and expect to have their wishes fulfilled. Pioneer women know that life doesn’t work that way and they rely on themselves to move forward. They will learn to build their own support groups and will grow up not being a victim of life (Meeker 129-130). Even though women are attracted to men with courage and resolve, teach her to use her grit (Meeker 132). Grit is resiliency. Its doing the hard things even when you don’t want to do them. And the best way to teach grit, is to demonstrate it yourself.
The combination of your willingness to defend and provide a moral compass for your daughter, instilling within her a pioneer spirit and helping her to develop personal resiliency, creates a powerful, strong, and confident woman.
Being a former “player,” (as described by others mind you), I found that these types of girls were the hardest to get into bed within the first few dates, but were also the ones that were worth sticking around for. And that ain’t no joke.
Meeker, Margaret J. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know. Washington, DC: Regnery Pub., 2006. Print.