One time one of my coworkers was talking about his daughter (who was only 5-6 at the time) and how he was already worried about boys, etc. once she got older. He wasn’t one of those dads, who would quite literally hunt down a teenage boy with a shotgun over some backseat shenanigans. He was just a concerned dad.
He asked me what my dad used to do to scare all of the boys away from me, or to at least make sure they were good to me.
My dad never once said, “Katie, if a boy hits you, make sure to bring him back here so I can make him pay.”
Instead, my kind, gentle-soul dad expressed anger and utter contempt for men who beat their wives (and vice versa), and has never in his life raised his hand against me or my mother.
My dad never once said, “Katie, don’t go out with a boy who’s rude to the waitress.”
Instead, my father has treated every single server we’ve had throughout my entire life (except the rare ones who were rude first) with respect and courtesy.
My dad never once told my brothers to get up and offer the pregnant lady their seat on the subway.
Instead he was the first one to stand up, and smiled proudly when his young sons copied him when 2 other women boarded.
My dad didn’t raise me to only make good decisions when he’s there looking over my shoulder. He showed me what to look for in a man, not by preaching at me or declaring that he was the perfect mold. But his treatment of others (esp women) is the foundation for my standards when it comes to men.
So, parents, you want to make sure all of those Bad Apples stay away? Step one is to demonstrate what a Good Apple looks like, up close and personal.
Because if you’ve taught your daughters to respect themselves enough to have high standards, there won’t be any need for you chase any Bad Apples away. Your daughter will take care of that for you.
This is important. It’s also important to teach little girls that self help is always an option.
When I was eight I went to my parents crying because a little boy was routinely jumping me from behind when he passed me in the hallways and pulling my hair and it hurt.
My parents didn’t tell me that the boy must have a crush on me, or that I should cut my hair, or even to go tell a teacher (though that last one wouldn’t have been bad advice).
Instead, my dad knelt down and soberly said the following:
“That’s not ok. It’s never ok for someone to touch you in a manner you don’t like. If someone does that too you once, you ask them politely to stop and tell them you don’t like it when they do that. If they do it a second time, you look them in the eye and tell them loudly, “I’m feeling threatened and if you do that again I will defend myself.’ If they do it a third time, you break their nose.”
He proceeded to teach me how to break someone’s nose.
I’m sure people will debate the appropriateness of this advice, but I’ve only ever had to move past yelling “I’m feeling threatened” once. My dad wanted me to know, from an early age, that I wasn’t weak or entirely dependent on others to defend myself, he wanted to teach me that I had power too, and I should use it when necessary.