Helicopter Mom, Tiger Mom, and Snowplow Mom are the buzz words you hear when someone is trying to describe an overprotective parent. And, based on these terms, it seems like moms are the ones who get a bad rap for butting in and taking over our kids' lives. But they aren't the only ones who can become overly involved in our children's day-to-day affairs. There are dads who helicopter, tiger parent, and snowplow, too. Often, the signs your spouse is an overprotective dad are more about dating and sex than schoolwork and piano lessons.
Dads have the best intentions. They want to protect their children — and their daughters in particular — from the dangers of this world. They feel that having a tight grip will keep them safe, but sometimes, dads go over the top.
During the last homecoming dance season, a dad posted a photo of himself with his arms wrapped around his daughter's date and a caption that read "Whatever you do to my daughter, I will do to you." Both the daughter and her boyfriend were in on the joke, but it spawned a few responses from parents who didn't see the humor. "It’s not 'funny' to threaten my son," Kasey Ferris wrote in Huffington Post. "It’s not 'cute' to treat your daughter as if she has zero common sense."
And she has a point. Here are some signs that your spouse may going over the top and on his way to become an overprotective dad.
1. Dating Is Off Limits
For ages, new dads have quipped that their daughters will never be allowed to date. For some fathers, however, it's no joke. Casual dating is strictly off limits for some cultures, and believe it or not, prearranged marriages are still a thing. It is healthy for teenagers to learn how to navigate age-appropriate romantic relationships in order to prepare for the real deal relationships in their adult lives. The Washington Posts suggests that dads are better off teaching their daughters how to have healthy relationships than trying to keep them from romance altogether.
2. He Mistrusts All Of Your Daughter's Potential Love Interests
Your spouse used to be a young man, and therefore thinks he knows what boys are thinking at all times (sex, sex, sex). But, Christine Organ counters that argument in a recent article for Scary Mommy, noting that "as a mom to boys, it breaks my heart to think that regardless of how respectful, kind, and considerate my boys might be, there may be people out there who assume they do not have good intentions." Dads should consider giving the boys the benefit of the doubt, and arm their daughters with good advice on how to make smart decisions about sex.
3. He Enforces Way Too Strict Dress Rules
Dad may think he's keeping his daughter out of danger by making sure that her shorts reach her knees and her swimsuit is a one piece with board shorts and a tee shirt on top. But sexual violence can occur no matter what a girl wears. Author Jennifer Mathieu wrote in Time that modesty culture implies that it is "the responsibility of the woman to keep the man 'in check' through what she wears," and that if a man crosses the line, the woman is at fault for leading him on. That is simply not the case.
That's not to say that you should abandon age-appropriate attire and encourage your 'tween to wear a thong bikini, but you may want to ease up on the mandatory turtlenecks.
4. He Won't Let The Kids Ride The School Bus
Your spouse will rearrange his work schedule before letting your kids ride the school bus. Part of it is his fear that the bus can get into an accident, but, mostly he's concerned about what he's heard happens on the bus. Even if you have no reason for your child to ride the bus, it's practical to teach them how to be safe on the school bus and maybe even let them ride it once or twice to learn the ropes just in case you ever have car trouble or an emergency that doesn't allow you to arrive to school on time.
5. He Doesn't Allow Sleepovers
According to Today, there is a growing movement of parents banning sleepovers, due in part to reports about molestations occurring during slumber parties. But, this blanket rule can get tricky by the time your child is in high school. It is common for the cheer squad, the dance team, or service club members to sleep over at someone's house for an early morning practice or competition. Getting to know the parents of your daughter's friends and arming her with knowledge and strategies to protect herself when you aren't around may be the first step to loosening dad's no sleepover rule.
6. He Tracks Your Children's Cell Phones
Knowing where your kids are is essential, but if your teen hasn't given you reason to doubt, and you are persistently tracking them, you could be sending the message that you don't trust them at all. "Constant monitoring can harm parent and teen relationships," Barbara Greenberg, a family clinical psychologist and expert on teen behavior, told USA Today. Giving your teens a little space will teach them that you trust them, and it can even encourage them to be more responsible in the future.
7. He Won't Let Your Teenagers Drive
Most parents can't wait for their teenagers to start schlepping themselves to their countless meetings, practices, competitions, and games (especially the ones that start at 8 a.m. on a Saturday.) But there are some overprotective dads who won't allow their teens to drive, and it's not about the car insurance or buying them a new car.
According to Livestrong, "allowing teens to drive provides them with independence and the ability to have more control over where they go, with whom and for how long." Not to mention teaching your teen to drive while he is still at an age where you can impose rules and restrictions, will give him the practice and confidence he will need when he is driving on his own.
8. Curfew Is At 9 p.m.
Your teens curfew should be determined depending on their responsibility, their age, and local laws. It may be appropriate for a 14-year-old to be picked up from the movies by 9 p.m., but by the time you have a high school junior or senior, curfew should more accurately reflect their activities. Expecting your 17-year-old to come home at 9 p.m. from the prom is definitely a sign that your spouse is overprotective.
9. He Won't Let Your Teen Get A Job
He says it's because he wants his teens to focus on their studies, but what he is trying to avoid is the independence that comes with making their own money. Time suggests that working teaches teenagers humility, along with learning about the real world before they are thrust into it.