Writer J. Warren Welch is raising five daughters in his blended family with wife Natasha. Over the years, he has seen and heard all the jokes, T-shirts, and memes about dads polishing shotguns while they wait for dates to pick up their daughters. He just doesn't think they are funny.
He wrote, "You'll have to ask them what their rules are. I'm not raising my little girls to be the kind of women who need their daddy to act like a creepy, possessive bada*s in order for them to be treated with respect... You will respect them, and if you don't, I promise they won't need my help putting you back in your place."
"I understand the urge to protect your daughters," Welch told TODAY Parents. "I get that. But the kind of posturing by fathers of daughters I was specifically responding to had nothing to do with that 'protective instinct' and everything to do with asserting their dominance over women and reinforcing a belief that women need men to take care of them."
Welch and his wife are raising two 16-year-old daughters, Ashton and Jade, as well as 13-year-old Darcy, 12-year-old Carmen, and 7-year-old Laney, all from previous relationships, in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Welch said he learns from his daughters as much as they learn from him.
"I'm going to be real honest here: I've never actually been nominated for a 'Father of the Year award,' contrary to what several coffee cups in my cupboard would lead you to believe," said Welch.
"That is exactly why I know that my daughters don't need my help making important decisions about their relationships. These girls are my heroes!" he said. "I was a feminist long before I had daughters, but it wasn't until I was blessed with the task of raising young women that I realized why: these girls are amazing humans, and I can take no credit for that other than the fact that I at least knew that the best thing I could do for them is not try to 'mold' them."
The response to Welch's post has been "overwhelmingly positive," he said, which he takes as a hopeful sign indicating "a change in attitudes towards women in our culture."
Welch said he has talked to his oldest daughter, Jade, specifically about this topic, "but on subjects like this, I really feel that hearing is more important than talking," he said. "I can make bold statements about my daughters because I listen to them, and I know they are bold young women. I really do actively try to encourage that boldness, but I've never felt the need to cultivate it."
His advice to other fathers of daughters is not to teach their children that they need their father's approval on the important decisions they will have to make in life. "Doing so will only instill in them a belief that they need a man's stamp of approval before they can make a decision," he said.