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Another of my daughter’s friends who has a single mother lives with her mother and her aunt, and sees her father regularly on weekends.
We need to be teaching our daughters skills and putting agency in their hands rather than steamrolling their self-determination. But what I didn’t notice at the time I first wrote about these memes was that several weeks after my post on the subject the Federalist posted an article titled “3 Inadvertent Truths In Feminist ‘Rules For Dating Daughter’ T-Shirt.” The article, written by writer Mollie Hemingway, focuses on the shirt pictured above.
Even a focus on protecting our daughters doesn’t work once they reach a certain age—what’s to stop a daughter whose father takes this approach from simply ditching her dad and running off with a guy, but without the tools to recognize abusive patterns or stand up for herself? Her body, her rules This approach, as you may notice, places agency in the daughter’s hands and seeks to empower her.
As parents, we need to focus on empowering our daughters rather than on cloistering our daughters.
The central problem with all of these memes is that they ignore the daughter’s agency.
It took me years to realize this but parents who didn’t have rules for their teens tended to be parents who just didn’t care enough about their kids to provide guidance.