5 Reasons You Should Stop Celebrating Overprotective Dads
Here's why overprotective dads are harmful, not cute
The ideal father-daughter relationship is built on trust and mutual respect, but in many cases, it isn’t. The overprotective father, for example, is often celebrated. We think it’s admirable, and even “cute” when a dad goes to great lengths to protect the “purity” of their daughters. Just last week, a Georgia dad uploaded a video of himself brutally trashing his daughter’s Audi with a digger. Why? Because he caught her fooling around with a boy in it. Bizarrely, the Internet cheered him on.
But why is the overprotective dad stereotype so widely celebrated in the media? In recent years, you’re encouraged to take the side of snarky and mean war veteran Greg Focker from “Meet The Fockers”. Or in the extreme case, “I have a certain set of skills” Brian Miller from “Taken” (yikes!)
Now, we know these examples are extreme. But we’re not saying that being protective of our children is inherently bad. There are plenty of things you should protect your daughters from. But overprotective fathers (OFs) can actually do more harm than good. Here are some reasons how.
1. OFs teach daughters that their bodies are not their own.
Yes, sexual assault and violence is a problem and is something that parents should be legitimately worried about. But most overprotective fathers are fixated not on preventing sexual assault, but on keeping their daughters from consensual sex, or even non-sexual romantic relationships. Telling their daughters what they can and can’t do with their bodies, and emphasising that their worth is hinged on their “purity,” teaches girls that their sexuality isn’t normal, and that they have no agency over it.
2. OFs teach girls that she can’t make her own decisions.
By teaching our daughters that they cannot be trusted to make decisions, overprotective dads crush their child’s confidence. They teach them not to take risks. Yes, your child could make mistakes and get hurt. But actually, taking risks can be incredibly rewarding. Even if your child makes a mistake, they can always learn from the experience. After all, weren’t dads also young and foolish at some point in their lives?
3. Daughters of overprotective parents are more likely to rebel.
This doesn’t just apply to girls, but having an overprotective dad usually makes their child more likely to act out when the right opportunity presents itself. It might seem an effective way to keep your daughter from harm by stopping them from doing certain activities. But instead, having open communication, healthy conversations, and building respect can be more effective in fostering good behaviour.
4. Their daughters might have sex earlier.
Here’s a curious statistic: absent fathers increase the risk of unsafe sex and teen pregnancy, but overprotective fathers also have the same effect. This is probably because overprotective dads are less likely to talk to their child about healthy and responsible dating, as they’re averse to even the idea of their daughters going on a date.
5. They give a skewed idea of what men are like.
Dads are their daughters’ introduction to men and masculinity, and will be—for better or worse—the benchmark for all other men in her life. But overprotective dads often paint guys as monsters.
Who hasn’t heard the saying “guys only want one thing from girls”?
Repeating this message over and over again—either verbally or indirectly— teach daughters to be fearful of men, preventing girls from having healthy relationships with the opposite sex. And when dads project an image of masculinity that is restraining and controlling, this will be the kind of behavior that girls can expect from other men as well.
Be sure to check out for more insightful stories, questions, and answers from parents and experts alike. If you have any insights, questions or comments regarding the topic, please share them in our Comment box below.