10 dads offer advice to help their little girls navigate the dating world.
If there’s one thing that gives a father a new perspective on his life — and women — it’s a daughter. For perhaps the first time in his life, a man suddenly finds himself in the role of protector. He will do anything and everything to shield his little girl from harm — and sometimes even from versions of his younger self when he was first navigating the dating world — and help guide her through the rocky waters of adult relationships, and finally marriage.
This is what parenthood and being an adult is all about, after all — examining our lives, our choices, and our behaviors in search of what is true and right, so that we may pass these lessons on to our own children. We want them to be more aware (and smarter) about the world and life than we ever were. Fathers have a unique and important role to play in this way with their children.
It’s not always easy for men to share this kind of information with their daughters, but we found some surprising and delightful truths in their responses:
On what men find attractive …
“… You should not trust us until we prove ourselves. That said, the right men are attracted to women who are comfortable with who they are and confident in their own gifts, abilities, and ambitions.”
—Mickey Maudlin, book editor at Harper One, dad of daughters ages 27 and 24
On sex …
“Most of us think about sex with more alarming regularity than you could guess — not because we’re depraved, but because we’re weak jerks who need to prove ourselves around the clock. We can grow up.”
—45-year-old father of three, Grand Rapids, Michigan
On having a baby …
“Men believe that the arrival of a baby in the house presents a problem to be solved, a situation to be fixed. All that we need to do, the man reasons, is work together so that life can get back to normal. The man has absolutely no clue that life will never, ever again be ‘normal.’”
—W. Bruce Cameron, author of A Dog’s Purpose and 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenager Daughter, screenwriter, and dad of two daughters ages 32 and 30
On beauty …
“Men by their nature are attracted to beauty, so naturally to the beauty of women. How they respond to this attraction can be pure and wholesome or as we see a lot of today, not so pure and wholesome. A mature faithful man will see, and will want to affirm in women, both their beauty and dignity as daughters of God, and will conduct themselves in a manner that respects them and serves them. A mature man of faith sees their beauty as more than their physical appearance, but more importantly related to a virtuous interior and exterior life. This view goes counter to most of the world where men see women as objects to use or abuse for their pleasure, focusing mainly on their exterior beauty and what they can get from the women without much concern for their wellbeing, their virtue, and their souls.”
—Age 60, father of 4 boys and 1 teenage daughter, Santa Paula, California
On men’s nature …
“Dudes are pretty simple when it comes down to it — and fragile. But, we will run through a wall for somebody else if they tell us we’re doing a good job.”
—Gregg DeMey, musician, father to one daughter, 21
On getting serious about a guy …
“A lot of men just assume, and often they assume in their own favor. For instance, if they’re out of clean socks, they wonder when the woman in their life will be doing laundry. If the car’s fuel gauge is near empty, they wonder why their wife (or the primary woman in their life) didn’t stop for gas. If they’re hungry, they check before wondering why there’s nothing good to eat in the fridge. These are things to explore before getting serious about a guy, because these are things that are not likely to improve later on.”
—Ron Lee, small business owner, father to one daughter, age 30
On what makes a guy like you …
“Ultimately, what I want my girls to know about men is that boys want to be with girls that they respect and admire.
“I think that there’s been so much emphasis put on girls that they need to do things to ‘secure’ a relationship/attraction. ‘You need to be fit so men will like you,’ ‘You need to be cute so men will like you,’ ‘You need to not come off as _____ so men will like you.’ In the end, there’s nothing wrong with being fit, cute, etc. But the emphasis should not be on getting someone to ‘like’ you or be attracted to you. For me, the #1 priority of what I want to teach my daughters is that they need to be themselves and the guy part will take care of itself.”
—Brian Devereaux, 34-year-old father of five children, four of them daughters, Northern California.
On mixed signals …
“Men also aren’t great at expressing how they really feel. They’ll say you look nice when they mean you look gorgeous. Don’t put too much stock in their limited vocabulary.”
—Greg Asimakoupoulos, retirement community chaplain, father to daughters 34, 32 and 27
On relationships …
“Two things: one, relationships are hard. And they’re great. And hard. And great. And … two, anything can be talked about if the timing is right. Sometimes the right time doesn’t come along for a long time. Be patient.”
—Tim Fall, trial judge and blogger, father of one daughter, age 26
On compromise …
“Most of the time, we just want you to be happy, so we’ll go to whatever restaurant you want (just choose!) or see your movies. But, when we do suggest a place or a movie? Go along with us, even if it’s not what you’d normally like. Stoop to our level sometimes. We love that.”
—47-year-old father of three, Chicago