As a rule, dads don’t generally like boyfriends. We love to make threats about what will happen to them if they hurt our daughters, or step out of bounds. These threats often involve shotguns and unmarked graves located in the swamp. We are unmercifully critical of them, and we are unlikely to cut them any slack whatsoever.
This is probably not much different than how parents of boys feel about their potential girlfriends. And I’m sure there will be parents who are as skeptical of my girls as I am about their boys. But being the father of two girls, I can only write about how I view boyfriends.
One reason for this universal hatred of boyfriends is the thought of these little hormone gremlins doing unimaginable things to our daughters that shouldn’t happen until she is married, which shouldn’t be a day before her sixty-fifth birthday. Unfortunately, every dad was once a hormone gremlin himself. We know how they think. We know how they operate.
And it cannot be overlooked that teenage girls can be encouragers of the hormone gremlins. Teenage girls are quick to learn the power they hold over boys. This makes for a deadly combination, and it is for this reason that we are ever vigilant and suspicious of their every action.
Another reason for us to persecute boyfriends is perhaps to weed out the weaker ones from the pack. I have constant nightmares about her marrying some deadbeat and moving into my basement for ten years while he finishes hip-hop album.
In my mind, there is no boy worthy of my daughter’s hand in marriage. But knowing that her getting married is inevitable, I do my best to make sure our daughter ends up with the best husband possible.
But when I really sit and think about it, there is yet another reason beyond the other obvious ones, that dads hate boyfriends so much. That reason is simply not being willing to give up the monopoly that a dad holds on being their daughter’s hero. A boyfriend is someone who might eventually end up stealing that title.
I mean who is this punk that he thinks he can just come in here and win my daughters heart with nothing more than his cocky sense of humor and his seventy-five dollar pair of baggy jeans?
Where was he when she was a baby? It wasn’t him who cleaned up all those poopy diapers or walked her for countless midnight hours while she screamed at the top of her lungs. Where was he for all those skinned knees, bruises, and hurt feelings that I comforted her through? Where was he when her first hamster died and together we held a backyard funeral service? He wasn’t the one who had protected her and kept her from harm for the last sixteen years. He hadn’t even come close to earning an equal place in my daughter’s heart. It’s not fair for him to even have a chance!
Then I remember that I was once that punk kid showing up at another father’s doorstep . . . hoping to steal the affections of his daughter. I have to stop and tell myself that whichever one of these annoying punks’ ends up winning my daughter as his wife may not have earned the right to be her hero as much as I had, but maybe only because he hadn’t had the chance yet.
So as painful as it may be, I realize that I must grant this Johnny-come-lately temporary permission to be my baby girl’s hero. I will give him a chance to earn the title. I will allow him the opportunity to become my daughter’s protector and comforter. And later still, to become everything I was to my daughter, with his own son or daughter . . . my grandchild.
So whichever one of you my daughter ends up picking, take this temporary permission that I give, and use it wisely. Earn the right to be called my daughter’s hero, and the hero of my grandchildren. Because if you squander this chance, or fail to live up to this title, you will have me to deal with, and the stories involving shotguns and shallow graves in a swamp, may end up not being just stories after all.