The A, B, Cs of Dealing with Boyfriends
You’re the father of two daughters, ages 18 and 21, both of whom now have steady boyfriends. You deal with this by:
Written by: Dr. Michael Weiss
A.Using intimidation tactics, like taking the young men on a road trip to the hardware store to help you buy an axe, just so they know you’re prepared in case they decide to lay a hand on your sweet little girls.
B.Treating the boyfriends like un-funny sitcoms. They probably won’t be around long, so there’s no point in getting attached to the characters or hooked on the storyline.
C.Putting them in your will. After all, they’re practically part of the family.
When I was dating, my parents tended to treat my girlfriends like "B." When it comes to our daughters and their boyfriends, my wife - who remembers being on the receiving end of "B" when she was dating me - would prefer that I lean more toward "C." I, of course, see merit in "A."
You get my dilemma.
I want to protect my daughters. But I don’t want to be so hostile that they’re afraid to bring young men home. Or so indifferent that my daughters think I don’t care about their lives, their friends or their choices. Or so cozy that we all forget who’s the dad.
As far as approaches go, "B" - indifference - is clearly out, thanks to my wife’s unpleasant experience with me. That leaves only variations of the options "A" and "C" to work with.
What am I supposed to do?
On one hand, I feel like it’s my responsibility to be my daughters’ last line of defense in a world full of people and things that can hurt them - with boyfriends at the top of the list. On the other hand, I don’t want to take away my daughters’ happiness, which means I should probably try to like the people they like with some degree of enthusiasm and sincerity.
One approach involves holding on. The other involves letting go.
Here’s the problem: If I hold on too tight and long, my daughters may think I don’t trust them, which isn’t true. If I let go too soon, they may forget on of the reasons I’m here, which is to protect and guide them until they’re ready to protect and guide themselves - which isn’t quite yet.
My wife thinks I need to loosen up. "After all," she reminds me, "the girls have shown good judgment. It’s not like they picked losers."
Our daughters’ boyfriends are nice, polite young men who have never done anything that I find objectionable.
They don’t wear their jeans so low that I can read the washing instructions on their boxer shorts (that’s annoying), or use their sleeves as napkins (that’s barbarian), or come to the house with alcohol on their breath (that’s deadly).
They don’t do the Eddie Haskell, my-you-look-nice-today-Mrs.-Cleaver snow job. Instead, they show my wife and I genuine respect and kindness. They dress neatly and drive safely. They wipe their feet before walking on the carpet. Most important of all, they treat my daughters exactly as I would have them treated.
Clearly, these two young men don’t deserve being subjected to "A."
But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to elevate them to "C."
So maybe the answer to my dilemma is neither "A" nor "C," but "D"- find a way to connect, but don’t lose sight of the fact that I’m still the dad.
<< Back to Dr. Weiss's Columns