“Rules for dating my daughter”: a mom’s response

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mash: society / parenting / feminism


Rules For Dating My Daughter: A Mother's ResponseHave you seen the photo floating around the internet of the dad who labelled himself as a “feminist father”? He has a wildly popular shirt for “Rules for dating my daughter”. He’s getting applause and ovations in the #YesAllWomen atmosphere that is spiraling around.

  Most of my friends thought I would have loved the shirt. I am, afterall a woman. And I have, after all, shown my support time and time again for the #YesAllWomen movement.   I’m not mad at this father at all. Rock on, Dad! Show the world you care for and support your daughter. Empower her to make decisions about her own body. Protect her. Support her. Love her.   However, I don’t like this shirt, ore most shirts, for “Rules To Date My Daughter”. I think it has two big flaws, from the perspective of a mother with a son. Here’s my problem with this dad’s rules.  

Rule 1: I’m sorry, but if my son is living under my roof, especially if he is underaged, I do make the rules. You know why? Because I am the parent.

  And it’s true, teenagers break rules all the time. However, people break the speed limit too. Should we stop having speed limits? The result would probably be a lose of life. Laws help keep most of us safe most of the time. Police remind us of those laws, and make sure we feel the consequences when we break them. Similarly, a parent sets general rules for their children’s behavior. While they might break some of the the rules some of the time, diligent parenting can help keep them safe by reminding them of certain things. And while I want my son to learn how to make the right choices without the need for exterior rules, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t, as a parent, set parameters. That’s my job.   In fact, the prefrontal cortex, which controls reasoning, isn’t even governing most of the decision-making of adolescents. In fact, it has been proven that emotions rule logic in the teenage brain. Adolescents are more likely to act on impulse and make risky-decisions. And the truth is, especially when they are young, their decisions will affect us as parents. How many grandparents do you know who are raising their grandkids? I know quite a few, and have no intentions on joining their ranks.  

Rule 2: Know what I’m going to teach my son? That he does make some of the rules. He gets to say “No”. Women don’t own the rights to that.

  The world has a lot of jerks that disrespect women, use them for their bodies, abuse them, and are generally pigs. I plan to raise my son to not be one of them. But guess what I want my son to also know? The world holds some pretty horrific mate choices in females too. There are women who use men for money, status, comfort, and caretaking. There are women who lie, cheat, steal, and abuse. Just like a girl has a right to say “Not interested,” he has a right to do the same. He doesn’t have to feel guilted into returning feelings, giving time, taking care of, or dating women that he knows are no good for him or his future.  

Rule 3 and 4: The girl does make rules, some of the rules.

  And it is her body. He should respect her. And respect his own body too. Yes, only the girl’s body is affected by a pregnancy. However, herpies, gential worts, and HIV aren’t gender discreminators. So, his body, his rules too.    

What do you think of this dad’s t-shirt, or other Rules To Date My Daughter shirts you’ve seen?

Would you change it for your kids, or would you rock it just as is?

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  • Robin Rue

    I love that shirt. I don’t have daughters, but good for that dad for standing up for his little girl.

  • http://familylivingonabudget.blogspot.com/ Anna

    I think his shirt is great, because he’s standing up for his daughter. However, I agree with the points you made too. I have 2 girls and 2 boys and they will all have the same set of rules for dating.

  • http://www.EarningFreeMoney.com/ Louida M

    I don’t know how to feel about the shirt. I have two daughters and it will be for sure rules when it comes to dating and their dad agrees with rules too. If I had a boy there would be rules too.

    • http://thatsmashedup.com Mrs. Mashed Up

      If I had daughters, I wonder what I would have thought of this shirt. I know I’m all about rules and guiding young ones, no matter the gender ;-)

  • Kung Phoo

    I want that shirt.. also i want a shirt that says you hurt her i hurt you..

    • http://thatsmashedup.com Mrs. Mashed Up


  • Marya

    I agree – having four boys – they do get to set rules and say no!

  • Joanna Sormunen

    I like the idea that the boy doesn’t make the rules and that dad’s, and mom’s, need to respect their children, and their bodies. But I still think that teenagers are too young to make their rules. They need parents, not just friends.

  • Elayna ~ The Positive MOM

    I think if teens are dating, both set of parents must be involved. There can be a council where everyone agrees/discusses the rules. That is how I plan to do it. He he.

    • http://thatsmashedup.com Mrs. Mashed Up

      I love that idea! I agree, I think it’s about both sides being involved!

  • Sojourner

    I personally love the shirt. I appreciate that this dad is standing up for his daughter. As parents, we can raise our children and teach them, but if they don’t have the chance to practice theses lessons, if we are always their voice, then what is the point? More young people need to be given voices.

  • Krista

    I have not seen this shirt before but I love to see a father showing love for his daughter

  • http://artpark78.com/blog1 yonawilliams

    I get the point of the shirt, and took it as a Dad showing support for his daughter. I hadn’t thought of any of the points that you brought up when I saw the shirt. However, I love the points you brought up about sons//young men. The rules do work both ways, and all parties involved need to show respect for everyone else. I also feel that parents do make the rules (up to a certain point in life). We’re here to guide today’s youth towards making the best decisions possible for themselves. If parents establish a good foundation with their children, I believe fewer issues concerning breaking the rules and ignoring the rules will occur. I think too many households don’t have enough rules or consistency in enforcing them; therefore, a lack of communication, boundaries, and understanding between parents and kids are creating more chaotic family dynamics.

    • http://thatsmashedup.com Mrs. Mashed Up

      Wonderfully stated! I agree. If you work on them while their young, you don’t even need a bunch of rules when they get old enough to have these “dating” conversations.

  • Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell

    I think he’s doing what’s right in his situation, but as with everything, it’s not ideal for every single family.

  • Meredith@MommyAtoZ

    You make some really great points, that I wouldn’t have thought of before! I like the shirt, but I think boys need to stand up for themselves as well, as long as they respect the girls they date.

    • http://thatsmashedup.com Mrs. Mashed Up

      Yup, yup! Totally agree!

  • Teresa McCluskey

    I <3 this shirt! Its totally on target! I need one!

  • emotionallyentertaining

    Protective father. That’s what he is, I guess. Rules make children/youngsters feel secure.

    Mhar Mg

  • http://www.onlineally.com/ Ryan Crockett

    This is an awesome perspective. We don’t hear enough from the parents of boys in my opinion, and both sides have equal value in this discussion.

  • http://thatsmashedup.com Mrs. Mashed Up

    I think very few indeed. At the very least parents can be reality checks. Gotta stay involved!

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