'As a single dad, these are the rules I have for my daughter when she starts dating.'

Alright dads gather round, we need to talk about our precious daughters and those little boys who want to get their hands on them. We know from experience because we were once that hormone crazed little teen just prowling for the chance to get to any base with a girl, right?

So let’s consider our options to be the protector in chief as a father does. Some age-old classic approaches include:

  • Locking her up until she’s 30-years-old?
  • Sending her to a convent?
  • Anything you do to my daughter, I’ll do to you?
  • Taking him into the backyard and showing him the shallow grave you’ve prepared?
  • Letting him know you can make him go away?
Rules for dating my daughter
"It’s just Charlie and me so it’s 100 percent up to me." Image: Supplied.

Let me start by saying that I in no way consider myself qualified to be the adult in charge of guiding this amazing little girl through life but it’s just Charlie and me so it’s 100 percent up to me ('us as a team', as I always tell Charlie).


I am however probably overqualified, after a lifetime of working as a bouncer, lifting weights, and boxing, to take on the role of the classic and outdated 'Overprotective, Scary Dad'. The only problem with this is if no one can ever date my daughter without fearing me, she is:

1) Going to rebel anyway,

2) Will learn I can’t be trusted and won’t talk to me, and

3) Miss the opportunity to develop those skills in her teens while she’s still young and has me nearby to help give advice.

Studies have repeatedly linked absentee dads to poor relationship outcomes for daughters (something mothers need to consider if they choose not to foster and support a father’s relationship if separated), including high rates of unplanned pregnancy and divorce.

There is a direct relationship between a dad’s behaviour and his daughter’s sexual and social development.

Daughters that grow up with fathers who disappointed them are more likely to interpret the intentions of other men as sexual when they grow up, new research suggests.

In a new study from a team of researchers who have previously studied how fathers influence their daughters’ odds of risky sexual behaviours and the particulars of so-called “daddy issues”. This is the first time scientists have demonstrated that even when daughters with present dads dwell on memories of how their fathers disappointed them they may be primed for promiscuity.

This research underscores an important psychological change perceiving greater sexual interest among men, study co-author Danielle J. DelPriore of the University of Utah said in a statement, “That could increase a woman’s likelihood of engaging in unrestricted or risky sexual behaviour in response to growing up with a disengaged father.”


Therefore, the stereotypical “Scary Dad” is not an option that has any chance of achieving good outcomes and handing it completely off to the mothers (if that’s an option) doesn’t really gel with unconditional, do-anything-for-my-kid’s type parenting we all like to think we are capable of. Does it?

Therefore, it’s up to us dads to be the example of how our daughters should be treated.

Rules for dating my daughter
"Therefore, it’s up to us dads to be the example of how our daughters should be treated." Image: Supplied.

It is up to us dads to model the respectful treatment of women (including not denigrating or disrespecting their mothers if you are separated).

It is up to us dads to support and prepare our daughters' transition from our little girls towards one day having their own relationships and their own kids should they decide.

It’s even up to us dads not to presume our child’s sexual orientation as this may cause harm down the road when the child starts to reconcile their sexuality with what their parents expect from them. This can be very painful and make the coming out process harder than it may already be.

Simply put it’s up to us dads.

I’ve got to accept that Charlie is going to want to date. It is important for Charlie, once she enters her teenage years to learn how to date, navigate romantic and sexual encounters, and to build healthy boundaries and relationships with those partners.

Charlie is my daughter and like every father, I think she is beautiful. Not any more, or any less, than any other girl. Like every father, I’m gripped by fear, the desire to protect her, body and soul.

Rules for dating my daughter
"I look at Charlie now at six years old and it’s easier to see the girl she’s becoming than the baby she once was." Image: Supplied.

I look at Charlie now at six-years-old and it’s easier to see the girl she’s becoming than the baby she once was, apart from her smile and her sparkling eyes that baby is gone forever replaced by this funny little person in her own right.

I look at her and see the little girl she is, that currently needs to be protected and nurtured and the harsh reality is I won’t be around to protect her forever, however, the lessons she hopefully takes into her adult life will.

As much as I’d like to keep my precious baby wrapped safely in my arms I know it’s like trying to hold back the tide and one day she’ll be a young woman. I hope with a strength in body and mind, a beautiful kind soul, with dreams for the future, and I hope that wonderful energy will attract people into her life that are like her.

I want her to be adored, body and soul, by someone other than family someday. Yes, I absolutely want her to find a partner in life that sees her magic. In addition, yes, when the time is right, I would love grandkids, however, being 50 years older than Charlie, time may not be on my side.


I want to show her that how she looks does not matter and is not something she should seek validation in. I want her to know someone will love her not because her body is beautiful, but because her soul is beautiful. Charlie should learn that her value is equal to that of any man she knows, regardless of whether he finds her attractive.

It’s up to me as Charlie’s dad, to make sure Charlie is confident and in control. To make responsible informed decisions about her own body, to love herself just as she is. Whether it is teaching Charlie the accurate names for her body parts (I beam with pride when Charlie can point out her tibia, fibula, and femur). We don’t call her head “up there” so why would we call her vagina “down there”?

Rules for dating my daughter
"Charlie deserves to have my confidence in her." Image: Supplied.

They’re not “adult” words to be off limits until some arbitrary age or until poor old dad here can cope. Educating Charlie about menstruation or discussing sexual behaviour as Charlie is getting ready for a date (hopefully) is all in my future, dodging, squirming, and wincing aren’t reactions that are going to help Charlie feel comfortable in her own skin or confident about who she is.

Dads don’t wince over things they’re proud of or happy about in their kids and Charlie already understands this. When I’m proud of her and happy for her, I grin like an idiot. I tear up (I’ve cried more in the six years Charlie’s been here than the 50 years before).

So, if I reveal my discomfort with Charlie’s sexuality, I’m unintentionally teaching her it’s either something to be afraid of or something to be disdained.

I’ll also be directly or indirectly teaching her I don’t want to be involved in knowing that part of her and that will probably create distance in our relationship. None of this will improve her self-esteem or her ability to believe I love her unconditionally.

Charlie deserves to have my confidence in her and in the lessons she’s learnt from the example I’ve set, Charlie deserves better. She deserves to live life on her own terms and follow her dreams. Charlie simply cannot do that from a helpless victim mindset, she must one day make her own decisions and own the consequences so it is critical that I teach my daughter to solve problems now and not hope she will just figure it out down the road.


I could easily sit back and listen to every problem Charlie has and offer what I think is an acceptable solution. However, what does Charlie learn from that other than I am obviously the smartest dad in the whole world? (Which is already a well-established fact that requires no further validation).

As Charlie’s dad, I have no choice once she is older but to support her decisions, that support doesn’t mean “solve her problem”. It means to support her decisions and wait to be asked if she needs me to intervene. This is a lesson I’m only starting to learn now and is by far the hardest, yet I realise now as much as it pains me I must raise Charlie to leave me and be who she is.

Thinking I can control Charlie’s choices when she’s older is like the bloke riding the elephant at the circus, it might look like he’s in control but the minute that elephant wants to do something that bloke is nothing but a passenger.

Therefore, there will definitely be rules for dating my daughter, those rules simply stated will be hers.

A version of this post appeared on Kiddipedia which is a World First Parenting Website and Australia's leading parenting resource. It's the only place parents can access Australia's top parenting websites, and their articles, from one place.