Your daughter doesn't need you to be a feminist
By Focus on the Family
I stumbled across the photograph above (along with some glowing commentary) on Upworthy.com yesterday.
There's just one problem; this isn't actually a recipe for good parenting, instead it's little more than a declaration of: 'I don't really care too much about what happens between you and my daughter'.
News flash: this shirt will NEVER be worn by this father.
When my daughters are old enough to start dating, any young men who show interest will not be labouring under any misapprehension - instead it will be made very clear to them that the way they treat my girls matters a heck of lot to me.
Not because I think that my daughters are weak little princesses incapable of navigating this complex world due to their frail feminine condition, or because I view my daughters as my property to be passed on to another man when marrying time comes around.
Instead, I will do this because I love my daughters more than anything else in this world, and I want the men in their lives to know that my love for my daughters is so great that it places demands on them as well.
I thought we had moved on from this sort of hands off 'parenting' after the 80's and 90's, when, as a culture, we began to realise that our sons and daughters viewed our appropriate boundaries and concern for their lives, not as a cruel imposition, but as a sign that we cared enough to take an interest in their wellbeing.
One of the fatal flaws in the sentiment expressed on this shirt is that it assumes that our sons and daughters can never make bad decisions that require our loving guidance (something that parents are specially qualified and called to do for their children).
Imagine a scenario in which your daughter begins to make bad decisions that see her consenting to things that actually place her in harms way - what happens then, after you've already established a rule that declares that a lack of consent is the only harm that could ever befall your daughter?
Young men need to know that they are accountable for their actions, because young men are want to push the boundaries if they believe no one is watching (as a former average young man I am more than qualified to make such declarations about the behaviours of young men).
This doesn't mean that young men are inherently untrustworthy and bad, it just means that they face a whole lot of pressures and influences (both internal and external) when it comes to how they conduct themselves around women - and they need fathers, both their own, and the fathers of the women in their lives, to be a positive influence on them in order to help them moderate their behaviour and become good men.
The way that fathers of daughters exert their influence is by demanding excellence of the young men who want to date their daughters, and by making it abundantly clear that they will be kept accountable for the way they treat our girls.