So it finally happened, and prepared as you may feel from anecdotes that other fathers of daugthers have shared with you, nothing can truly prepare you for the day that your daughter asks you to marry her. In my case, it was more of a statement of fact; "Daddy, you'll marry me," is how she put it, if I remember correctly, her cartoonish-large eyes full of a joy so pure that your heart aches thinking about the inverse relationship between time and innocence. And the instant the words are uttered from her little four year old lips, your mind is assaulted with a violent tidal wave of what-ifs, hypotheticals that gnaw at your conscience and threaten to alter the realities that you've envisioned for her.
As the father of a daughter (and under the massive assumption that your child is heterosexual), you're all too conscious of how boys, teenagers, and ultimately men treat women. You've likely witnessed the entire spectrum of interactions; from humiliation, disrespect and subjugation to the pinnacles of chivalry, honor and love. And along that spectrum, you begin to chart and measure your own history of relationships with women. Were your fallacies and misdeeds forgivable, could you stomach some of those not-so-proud moments should they happen to your little girl? Or do you now, being faced with the bittersweetest of questions, find yourself filled with regret, wishing there was a way to seek forgiveness and make things right?
As you snap back into the present, you come to the realization that there's really only one way to impact her future relationships with men, be they her friends, her co-workers, or her lovers: be the man that she'll measure them up to. Love her mother until it hurts everyday. Set the morality and humanity bar so high, that she won't be able to help but seek out wholesome, honest, loving, intelligent, selfless men.
And let her down easy. "No baby, you're going to marry someone better than me."