Over Protective Dads


Just wanted to put this thought out there and share a little personal experience. Ok with you? Cool. Recently, I made an assumption about mine and my daughter’s relationship. I thought I’d clear up that assumption by actually asking her directly. Just to inform you on our relationship, I lucked up. My daughter is actually quite honest with me and my wife. She really says what’s on her mind…respectfully. My wife has always worked to make it “okay” for all of our children to express themselves when they’ve disagreed with us, so long as it is done respectfully. So, I asked my daughter recently, “Do you feel like you’ve had to go ask your friends about serious things like sex and drugs or, you know other stuff, because you feel like I’ve been holding back and not telling you the whole truth?” Her reply, “At first. I mean, mom would tell me more and I really felt like I couldn’t talk to you. But I do now. I feel like you’re telling me everything now.”

I started out as a VERY over protective father. In addition, given the way I was raised, voicing one’s opinion was not always a valued method of communication and so with my children it went. That was early on. When they were younger, I felt like, “I’m the dad. I know what’s best for them. I set the rules, and they follow.” But is having our children simply follow the rules, the best our relationships with them get? Is that the most we should expect out of our exchange with these awesome little humans? It took me a while to figure it out with the help of my faith and my wife but I realized that I could be a bulldog and protect and shield my kids from all the crap in the world but that ultimately ends up producing the opposite effect. They end up losing their darn minds once they get out of the house because they’d been so oppressed/repressed in the home.

For me, it began around the end of my daughter’s sixth grade year that I would start telling her things and having conversations with her that would make me uncomfortable…in a good way. She started blossoming young and so I had to tell her before she started Junior High that she was going to be popular, but not in the way she thought. I began telling her things about the way boys were going to come at her and how they’d attempt to treat her and I did it in rather frank terms, not sugar coating or sanitizing the discussion. I told her about how boys would try to “cop a feel” by hugging her under her arms with their arms closer to around her waist in an attempt to get that hug/dry hump. I told her all the horny teen boy tricks of the trade and I gave it to her with both barrels. And it has worked. So far.

How do I know it has worked so far? Questions. It’s by the questions she still comes and asks me. Questions that would make many blush, but if I want to raise a healthy, savvy, self-aware young lady, I’ve got to answer them. If I don’t answer them then, Cosmopolitan, People, friends, etc. will answer those questions and God help me if I let those influences inform her worldview. I mean, to be quite honest, this current culture our children find themselves in SUCKS. Big time. Children give oral sex like it’s a handshake these days. Google “rainbow party” if you don’t believe me. So, what did I do…I used the awesome power of the internet and pulled up a medical website and showed my daughter what herpes looks like. Genital and oral herpes outbreaks, I showed her pictures of both. In all their gory detail. I did that when she was 13. Now before you get the idea that my daughter was “fast,” I didn’t do all of this because she was giving us signs that she had “jezebel-like’ tendencies. To this day, at 14, she hasn’t had a real boyfriend. She’s an honor roll student whose won the Silver Presidential award for her academics, but she’s darn cute. She’s had people ask about modeling since she was a baby and now at 14 with those same looks and DD’s it was imperative that I have these very real discussions with her because I know the wolves have been sniffing around the flock looking for a meal.

So, let me pass on a little advice. If, when your daughter is born, you look at her and think, “I will protect her from every evil on this planet and keep her a virgin until she’s 45,” be careful. Being over-protective may have the opposite effect that your protecting her is supposed to achieve. You actually want to raise a daughter who can discern the good guys from the idiots and in order for her to be able to do that you’re going to have to allow her measured doses of some pretty real stuff. An inoculation, if you will, against BS. And trust me, I talk to children about internet safety and there are far too many girls giving boys nude pictures of themselves because they feel like they have to do that to “seal the deal” and get a boy in this digital age to like them. When you’re honest and open with your princess, you’ll actually help instill a greater sense of confidence and help build her up against the same crap you wanted to keep her from anyway.

Maybe I’m crazy though. Maybe you think I’m crazy? You can tell me in the comments. I promise I won’t cry and if enough of you say I’m wrong, I’ll share that with her too….one day.

About Tshaka Armstrong

Tshaka Armstrong is the husband to one awesome wife, dad to three awesome children. On any given day you may find him posting internet & tech family safety info here and on his personal blog www.digitalshepherds.com, or chatting with his tweeps when he's not dadvocating here. Join in the conversation, drop a line, share a joke and join him in encouraging each other to be awesome!