: Overprotective Dad
Yeah, I've been called that. The funny thing is that it has mainly come from my daughter and not her friends. Before I jump into this, I want to make one thing clear... I think there are many of us fathers that work our asses off to be present as much as humanly possible for our children while doing our best to also provide for their financial needs but I know that I've missed some firsts with my own children due to work. First steps, a first day of school, there are things I remember missing because I wasn't too happy that I wasn't there to begin with. I think I'll always remember having missed those moments.
That said, one of the toughest things I had to deal with when my daughter was younger was her complaining about what I would or would not let her do, or wear because she had other friends who were doing things I didn't agree with. Allowing her to date at a certain age, or go out with boys, or hang out at the mall by herself, I found myself at odds with many of her friends' freedoms. She would ask me why I wouldn't let her do some of these things and I would try to explain it to her, but for some time I was at a loss to explain it to her in a way that I thought connected with her. One of the things that struck me was how many of these young ladies didn't have dads around. In so many of the cases where there was a difference in what my daughter was allowed to do and what her friends were allowed to do, dad wasn't really in the picture. To dispel any perceived notions, these were girls from affluent homes, some middle class, it was all over the spectrum. And it made it difficult at times when so many of her friends had more freedom than I thought they should have at such a young age.
I thank God for a couple of these girls in particular because my daughter would complain to them and they would tell her, "You should stop complaining. You have a dad who's in your life and cares about you." This from some of her friends who didn't have that and I can tell you that it really made a difference. It just so happens that these girls were also "adopted daughters" in my home so they were familiar with how I am as a dad, but hearing the same thing from more than one of her friends seems to have been impactful.
I finally figured out what to say to help her understand why I was "overprotective" and I think it really sunk in, so I'll share it with you. I would remind her about pirates and buried treasure and the lengths they'd go through to protect their treasures, in various stories and mythologies. Then I'd tell her that she was my treasure and that she had value that she may not have even understood yet and that it was my job to protect my treasure. That's what people do when they understand the value of a thing, they protect it. From that point on, if she ever complained or questioned why she couldn't do something, I'd give her the straight answer, and follow up with reminding her that she's my treasure and she's valuable, when applicable. Oh, and when it got heavy, I'd inject a little humor with a joke about her being my treasure and unfortunately I can't just bury her like a pirate so we wouldn't have to deal with that tough situation. It actually worked. I think.