Recently, my oldest daughter and I were out and about, running some errands; on our way home, we stopped at a gas station. There I saw a group of young men, one of whom wore his pants so low that I was concerned he was going to trip going up the curb!
After I saw him, I looked my daughter right in the eye, and with a bit of a smile said, “If you ever bring someone home with their butt hanging out like that, I’ll turn him around and send him straight back to his house.” Luckily, she’s still at that age where she thinks her daddy is silly, so her response was to giggle. As the dad of a “12-going-on-17” year-old, I didn’t find it nearly as amusing!
The fact that she is nearing the “boy-crazy” age has, in truth, been weighing heavy on my mind lately.
This situation really got me thinking. If she did indeed bring a boy home who sagged his pants or donned some other “fashionable” style I disagree with, would my actions meet up with my words? Would I be able to follow through on my promise and send that boy packing?
Back in the Day
If I were to meet my eighteen-year-old self today, I would have—as a protective father—rejected that boy. He had a lot of growing up to do.
When my wife first introduced me to her father, I was all “Gothed” out. I usually sported those huge black parachute pants with all the chains and straps. I wore black t-shirts, often from the metal band Tool, and accessories to the gills—including a studded black dog collar and leash I picked up from the pet store. And the only reason the collar wasn’t spiked was because it was against school policy.
The point is this. For me to judge that boy at the gas station because of his pants would be like judging a younger version of myself.
The Lesson Learned
There are five critical attributes I focus on modeling for my children in order to be a more effective parent: Patience, Encouragement, Action, Consistency and Empathy, or P.E.A.C.E.
The more I think about it, the more I realize the importance of teaching my daughter how to identify these attributes in others and how to respect herself enough to expect no less in a relationship. I don’t care if it’s a relationship with a best friend, a boyfriend, or even her own parents; I hope she does not accept anything less in her life than someone capable of P.E.A.C.E.
After some thought, I came to realize several important things.
One, if I tell my daughter that she cannot date a boy because of his poor judgment in style, I would be a hypocrite.
Two, as long as that boy is patient with my daughter, is encouraging to her, and understands empathy, he can wear his pants on top of his head as far as I’m concerned.
Three, I have to trust my daughter to make her own decisions.
And lastly, that if I’m doing my job as a parent, I won’t have to worry anyway—or at least not too much! My daughter will understand the importance of P.E.A.C.E. and will have already put that poor boy through an extensive pre-screening process before he ever reaches my doorstep.