One dad made an unusual choice, and the story struck a real nerve. Here’s what a group of our writers had to say.
I read the story with surprise and admiration. A father coming into his living room one morning finds his 17 year-old daughter stretched out on the couch with a boy he doesn’t know. They’re both naked.
This is where the father flies into a rage, scares the boy within an inch of his life (or, as comments have suggested, BEATS him within an inch of his life) throws the young man out of his house with threats of how much worse he’s going to get it if he ever shows his face again, and then turns his ire on his daughter, right?
Well that isn’t how this story goes.
This father showed such restraint and compassion for those young people, both in the shock of the discovery and the ongoing relationship with his daughters lover, and the ending was so heartening, that I was inspired to share it on my Facebook page with a simple comment, “Yeah, I cried.”
And then my Facebook blew up. Nearly 500 shares and likes combined, and the comments came thick and fast. Most comments were supportive of the father’s decision, one person called it “Love in action” and another commented “Always try kindness first – you never know what will happen.”
But not everyone felt kindness was called for. One disturbing thread started with a father who said, “That boy would have received a beat down and thrown out of the house. Sorry. No chances if a young man were ever to disrespect my daughter, and my house, in such a way.”
That father continued to insist that his use of violence would be to “defend his home and his family” (because a naked young man who has already had sex, or not, with your daughter and is now sound asleep is likely to be a real threat?)
Another person went so far as to assume that, since I and my friends didn’t endorse violence and felt that the father had made reasonable and loving choices, we sounded “… like the type of parents that host underage drinking parties. Rationalizing, ‘well, they were going to drink anyway’ smh.” (For the record, I don’t think that describes my friends and I know it doesn’t describe me.)
In fact, the comments were so polarizing I reached out to our community of writers and asked their thoughts. Here’s what they offered up:
Doug Wagner – This post really made me think. I don’t think you have to handle the situation just like the story did but there are some important themes in the story and many of the comments I saw.
First, how would the situation be perceived if it was a son with a young woman as a guest on the couch? Would the people presume she was a predator?
Second, do fathers really believe their daughters are innocent virgins who don’t have any brains, are inept and have no will of their own around guys? Do they see all guys as predators? The young lady in the story invited the guy in.
You can set and enforce rules for children or anyone else staying in your home. But ultimately teens are going to do what teens do whether you are made aware or not. All you can really do is teach both sexes how to have healthy relationships, how to make wise choices and how to minimize the health and pregnancy risks.
Thrashing the guest or your child is unlikely to create children who grow up as adults with healthy relationships.
Sean Ackerman — As a father of a 21 yr old son, and two daughters, 11 and 13 it made me reflect on my relationship with my wife in a different light. As we have grown older I have come to forget that the woman I married was once a little girl like my own daughters. As I contemplate my reaction, of course a knee jerk, “throw him out on his ear” comes to mind, as an overprotective, helicopter parent.
Yet, my wife, like my daughters someday will find love and (God forbid) passion in the arms of someone they care for deeply. What I can control, are the values and examples that I set every day. From there I will unleash these young woman into the world, and know they will make choices based on what I’ve shown them, how a man, loves a woman.
Danny Gibbs — I’d say it was a bit unexpected. Instead of flying into a rage at him sleeping with his daughter he took the time to get to know his situation and even helped him. For him to do this is just….interesting. Maybe it marks a shift in the way old men and young men interact.
Lori Daniel — Interesting outcome for sure. Not many parents would have such an unorthodox approach….heck probably none…this is truly rare.
What I got most out of this story is something I shared with my own kids years ago….everyone you encounter has a story so never rush to judgment because you don’t know their journey.
For myself, I see a father whose first question was, “How do I turn this into a positive learning experience for these kids?” He certainly held all the power; he didn’t relinquish the option to remove the young man from his home at any time he chose. He allowed his daughter to make her own mistakes, but he was right there as a guide and safety net, watching over every move. And now, 15 years later, those kids are married, have a business of their own, and have brought three beautiful children into the family.
I think this father is happy with his choice. What do you think?