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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Better.

I'd like to begin this with a little story.

I don't have any children of my own (and there are those that would argue that being a very good thing).  My oldest niece, however, I'm very protective of.  I have been since the day she was brought home from the hospital.  She's kind of like the hybrid of the child I don't want right now and the little sister I never had.  So, in the hybrid role of what I perceived to be one of the (many) major male role models in her life, I issued the half-joking decree that any unfortunate lad that tried to date her would have to get past me.  You know, as screening, to make sure their intentions were pure.  And if they weren't... well, somebody gonna get-a hurt real bad.  "I'm trying to protect you from guys like me," I said.  "And I'm one of the good ones."

I told her this because I distrusted the intentions of anyone she would meet, largely because I'm a guy, and even at my best my intentions with dates are always slightly dishonorable. (Even my current girlfriend, who will no doubt at some point read this, and with whom I was on my best behavior, my ulterior motives could be construed as slightly dishonorable).  Some guys are hardwired to be douchebags, and even the best of us can have somewhat asshole tendencies.

I joke all the time that I would likely be the father polishing the shotgun, or challenging my daughter's unsuspecting date to Russian Roulette, or some other violent, crazy act that would dissuade said unlucky boy from trying anything stupid, lest he suffer my Biblical-type wrath.  I was only half joking.

Until, that is, I read this article, where the author, a father, tells his daughter to go, experience, make the mistakes, get laid, and oh yeah, trust guys, because he's a good man and raised his daughter right.  The quote in particular that got me was this one:

It doesn’t lessen you to give someone else pleasure. It doesn’t degrade you to have some of your own. And anyone who implies otherwise is a man who probably thinks very poorly of women underneath the surface.

I don't think poorly of women; quite the contrary, I think women, in all their mystery and splendor and varying states of sanity are generally amazing creatures, capable of being incredibly strong and vulnerable in ways men simply cannot (I'm referring, of course, to the child bearing thing.  Ouch.).  So I thought about it, and realized something.  Men make statements like mine all the time.  We remember the kind of boys we were and cringe at the thought of our daughters, our sisters, our nieces bringing someone like us home.  But the fault isn't entirely the potential suitors, who want to get laid, or the teenaged girls, whose minds are a swirl of hormones and approval ratings.  It's on us.  The male role models.  The ones who these young girls are looking at and looking up to from the moment they get home from the hospital.  The fathers, the brothers, the uncles, we are their first taste of love from a man, and everyone who follows is eerily similar to that.

So we need to be better.

We need to be the example of what to bring home for dinner.  You don't want your daughter to bring home a thug?  Don't be a thug.  You want your daughter to bring home a smarter dude?  Read to her when she's a kid.  Want your daughter to seek someone loving and attentive?  Spend time with her before she's sent off to school.  Make her feel safe if you want her to seek someone protective.

Now for those men out there who have sons, this pertains to you as well.  You don't want your boy to be like you.  You always want him to be a better man, to do what you do well as a man (provide, protect, team member or what have you) and you want him to do it better.  So I implore you, please teach your sons too.

Don't let him be the kid that my future daughter makes me have to shoot.