Opinion

Treat women the way you'd like men to treat your own daughter

Daughters? Better get a gun then, eh?

Am I the only father to have heard that line?

After 10 years, I still hear it several times a week.  In fact, I’ve heard it so much that I can understand why celebrities roll their eyes at answering the same basic questions in every interview.

No, I’m not getting a gun, I’m not going to sharpen my swords or bayonets on the couch and ask about the plans for the evening while laying out curfew times.  This is not Texas 1973 — that behaviour will set off a storm that would probably involve wasting the time of an officer of the law when they could be out doing greater good.

So where does that leave us ‘modern’ gentlemen?  How do we make clear to the dates of our little princesses that she is not to be trifled with or mistreated by the opposite sex?

I hate to break it to you boys, it’s going to take work — years and years’ worth of it — and it started before you knew it.

Actually, some of you have already missed the starting gun.

By the time this column sees print, I will be a few short weeks from the anniversary of separating from my children’s mother — seven years past to be exact.

It was about that time that it occurred to me in a most profound way that I had to set the example on how they are to be treated by treating the women in my life the way I want my own daughters to be treated.

Before I go on, I want all you Daddies to go back and reread that last sentence and really let it sink in.

How are you treating the women in your life?

Your little girl is learning that treatment is standard.  In one of my own business endeavours, my coach in the financial sector proclaims more often than anything else, “More is caught than taught” — that phrase applies to just about every aspect in life. In this case, you cannot treat your significant other like garbage and expect your child to hold her partners to a higher standard.

Now before we get too much further down one path, let’s not forget the sons.

While I am using the daughters as a focus, don’t think for a second the other side of the coin doesn’t ring true.

Those boys are learning the same things from their mothers on what treatment to expect.  Ladies, don’t blow this off as a men’s only read and tape a copy of it to your hubby’s xBox — you are being watched as well.

Decades ago,  TV started to teach us many things — every one of us can recall some lesson a Muppet or cartoon taught us.  Stop right now and think Sesame Street and I bet it takes less than a second to pull out some memory of something you use to this day you learned from that show.  I’m Canadian and can tell you how a bill becomes law in the U.S. from that show.

So, if a 60-minute, two-dimensional TV show involving cartoons and felt puppets can impact a child for life, how does the rest of that child’s day go interacting with the people around her that she considers the end all and be all? What are they catching?

Now then gentlemen, all that being said, nobody is perfect — and I’m not saying we have to be by any stretch.

We all screw up and don’t make the right decision or cultivate the right habits 100 per cent of the time. The key is to handle it properly when we know we slipped up.  When in doubt ask yourself “How would I want my daughter treated if she was hurt or wronged?”

Temptation, instant gratification and easy roads are everywhere; believe your friendly neighborhood karaoke host/financial agent/writer, opportunities to set bad examples and lower the expectations of your biggest fans are at your fingertips every day.

If you would sit on your porch cleaning your firearm and warn a date against doing such things to your little girl then, remember there is another Daddy somewhere thinking the same of you.

I don’t claim perfection, nor do I say I’m free of temptation or various forms of ‘bad’ behaviour.

What I am saying is that when I consider such things happening to my children, I find myself resetting my mindset and moral compass.

Make no mistake my testosterone-enhanced compatriots, we are at war, we will battle bad ideas, tempting choices and tragic mistakes.  We will kick ourselves and pull back from the brink of ruin, but we can do it.

After all, I’d hate to have to look in the tear-filled eyes of my little girls one day and say “I did that to a girl once…”

Matt Harding is a single dad of two little ladies, an Aldergrove resident and regular contributor to  shesavalleymom.com.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.