A few times over the last few months I’ve mentioned the approach Ive taken to my teenage girls discovery of “boys”. A few times, you men out there have asked me to write down my thoughts:- So here it is. My guide to handling your daughters boyfriend without needing to get a shotgun license…
In the build up to facing what is every Dads worst nightmare, I asked a few people I knew what they had done when a testosterone laden, hormonally driven, sex crazed teenage boy turned up on the doorstep to take their daughter out.
(Note to any women reading this:- no this isn’t a stereotype and I’m not being shallow or over the top. I was a teenage lad once. I know what was on my mind and it wasn’t a game of charades or shopping).
Mostly people told me that they wanted to try and be the teenage boys friend. FRIEND?!?! WHAT?!?! I don’t want to be his friend. I want to be inside his head with a sense of Godly unpredictable menace. I want him to think of me when his hormones are telling him to do things that he really shouldn’t be doing. I also want him to think about things other than sex. Such as being caring, tender, honoring and respectful. So, as with all good Dad skills, I decided to head off “tango one” at the pass.
(Tango one being the code word for any boyfriend. For those that don’t know what Im on about, its a NATO style designation for a target).
Firstly, I sat down with both my girls and said the following:-
“I know you are interested in boys but I want to say something now because I love you very much and my job is to protect you and care for you…even if that means you don’t always like what I say. In fact, because I love you, I’m prepared to say and do things that wont always make me popular with you, but one day you’ll understand. If theres a boy you want to go out with, I just want you to ask yourself a few questions:-”
1) Will he treat you better than I treat you? (tip here is to set an impossibly high and expensive standard.
2) Will he put you first and think of you when you are out with friends.
3) Will he draw you closer to Jesus (My girls are believers)
4) I want to have a pep talk with him that will stay between me and him unless he tells you what I said.
My girls thought this was awesome. Yes really! In fact, my wife Karen said that the girls felt loved and secure because of this chat. Daughters need to know that their Dads care and are involved.
So, the big question is, what do I say to Tango 1? Well. here it is:-
“Tango 1, thanks for coming for a chat. I just wanted you to know how precious my daughter is to me… I mean she is really precious and I love her more than I can explain to you. So with that in mind (and please keep that in mind) heres some things that I wanted to say to you;
When you go out, please treat my daughter with respect. Please honour her and put her first. Make sure she is happy and safe.
Please don’t get her to do anything she isn’t happy with..and if she says no to something…please bear in mind that she should only need to say that once and Ive asked her to tell me if you don’t listen to her or upset her because its my job to make sure she is safe and happy and I take that job more seriously than nearly everything else in my life.
Honour and respect are really important values in our family…so if I say my daughter has to be home at 6pm, what time does she need to be home? (Note that 6pm is the right answer technically speaking but the wrong answer from a Dad perspective. 5.55pm is the right answer as this means he is being wise and respecting the time request).
Oh and theres one last thing. Please don’t put your hands anywhere on my daughter where I wouldn’t place my hands. Thanks”.
So whats been the result? When theres been an issue we talk about it. My daughters boyfriend has popped round for a chat when we’ve been unhappy about something. The air is kept clear and my daughters feel safe and we all get on great. So far so good. But if it all goes wrong, they know they can talk to me because I wont and don’t go off the deep end. The boundaries are set but the dialogue is ongoing and constant.
All the best fellas… its a tough gig.