It’s never too early for a father to begin sabotaging his daughter’s dating prospects

This is the only prom knight I will give my consent to when it comes to my daughter and dating. I am forging a cod piece as we speak. No cod piece, no date.
I had a frightening dream last night. In it, I was wearing an alpine yodeler outfit. The kind with the brown shorts, the white knee-high socks, and the little cap with the feather in it.

Wait, it gets scarier.

I was on vacation with my family. Our kids were older, and my daughter had a boyfriend with her. A space ship landed, and an alien came out yodeling the theme from “Close Encounters.” My wife was calling to me, trying to be heard over the yodeling alien, when I finally heard her cry out in utter desperation:

The cat likes to play checkers.

As you might expect, I woke up in a cold sweat, unable to shake that vivid, terrifying image of—that’s right:

My daughter with a boyfriend.

True, she’s only 11 years old right now. But time passes quickly, and in another 15 years she’ll begin dating. To me, this dream was a clear indication that I should begin preparing myself for the inevitable. When I explained this to my wife, she laughed.


I’ve seen drunken pirates with more emotional restraint.

For some reason, mothers are better able to deal with the whole dating prospect. I think this is because, statistically speaking, they aren’t men. They have no idea what it’s like to be a 15-year-old male. Well, I DO, which is why I will personally be screening each one of my daughter’s potential suitors before rendering my final decision to boot each one of them right off the front porch.

This may sound harsh, but, in the long run, will save my daughter the embarrassment of having to explain why her father has latched himself to the underbelly of her date’s car like Robert De Niro in “Cape Fear.”

Or why the only parties she can attend are costume parties, where the theme is Camelot, and all males are required to dress in full plate armor and a cod piece. If necessary, I will forge them myself.

I say this because I’ve seen what happens to fathers once their daughters begin dating. I have several friends who are just beginning this process. In most cases, this has included talk of buying a new home outside the city, and establishing a refuge for crazed rottweilers along a moat surrounding the family compound. Even to me, this sounds a bit extreme. At some point, you have to establish a certain level of trust with your daughter. You have to allow her a sense of freedom.

And you have to do it without letting her know she’s being followed.

You can try doing it yourself, but there are only so many times you can get away with “accidentally” crossing paths at the movies, Dairy Queen, and an abandoned gravel pit all on the same night.

Because of this, I’ve already begun interviewing private detectives. You see, to a father, money is no object when it comes to providing his daughter with the false sense of freedom that she deserves.

At least until a) his social security runs out, b) she becomes a national karate champion, c) he becomes a national karate champion, or d) preferably all of the above.

My wife, of course, thinks I’m being totally ridiculous.

“Over protective and irrational,” she laughed.

But, as I poignantly reminded her, at least I’m not the one who yelled out The cat likes to play checkers.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at, or at the Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, Or. 97439)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

28 thoughts on “It’s never too early for a father to begin sabotaging his daughter’s dating prospects”

  1. So, if you’re Robert DeNiro in this situation, clinging to the bottom of cars — which, honestly, you should do regardless because that’s just awesome — won’t that get weird since you’re also Nick Nolte, the father? That’s deeply existential.

    1. It’s true. I’m a complicated person. And deep. So deep I’m actually hyperextendedtial. And yes, that clinging to the bottom of cars this IS pretty awesome!

  2. Sending this along to my dad right now. I am one of his four daughters…the poor guy!!

    The first time he met my boyfriend (now fiance) he said “Hey Isaac, good to meet you. Just so you know I have several men who work for me who kill for a living, they actually ENJOY killing. So just remember that if you’re thinking about hurting my daughter. HAha, just kidding!….but seriously.”

    Needless to say, Isaac was terrified. My dad works for military special operations, he was definitely serious. Gotta love you dads! 🙂

    1. That’s fantastic! I mean, that he has highly trained people who will kill for him as a father… 🙂 Seriously, that’s hilarious, Courtney. Your Dad sounds really great!

  3. I don’t think you’re overreacting at all, neither does my husband. He’s been a 15 year old male and I’ve dated them.

  4. Great post. It made me chuckle.

    I have 2 boys, so thankfully I don’t have to worry about this type of thing.

    I also think you are being completely rational. I’ve been inside the mind of a 15 year old boy. Good luck! 😉

    1. Thanks! I have two girls (11 and 17) and two boys (13), so I have the advantage of some “scouting” from my boys when it comes to my 11 year old daughter. Of course, I realize that somewhere in town there’s a father sizing up my boys. The fun never ends!

  5. You are not over reacting. When dd1 went home with her new husband for the first time, my husband stayed up all night waiting for the opportunity to go and rescue her. He still doesn’t quite trust our son in law even though they’ve been married 5 years and are blissfully happy

    1. You know, I heard a line from one of my favorite shows last night. Believe it or not, this line came from The Walking Dead. One of the characters, an old Georgian doctor, finally begins to accept the love between his daughter and her young Korean boyfriend (a really great guy). The doctor says to him: “No man is ever good enough for your daughter. Until one is.” I think that’s absolutely true. Your daughter’s happiness will eventually win him over. Professional sports tickets work, too.

  6. Your dreams are as wild as mine. Love that the Cat loves to play checkers. It can be your partner as you sit on the porch waiting on the dates to arrive. 😉

  7. I remember growing up with a father who was very selective of the dates I could go on. I didn’t always understand or agree at the time. But now, being a single mother of two teen girls, I understand why he reacted as he did back then and I remind myself of that every time I have any kind of doubts regarding my daughters’ acquaintances. That on its own gives me the strength to do two things: to act as a mom by being more understanding or more lenient if it makes sense – and to act as a dad by knowing when to say no whenever it’s necessary. We have to remember to trust our parental instinct. 🙂

  8. I completely LOL… really LOL… I to have a teenage daughter and two boys following… although my youngest is my least worry he is DeafBlind… but I remember on young guy coming up to me when I was 21 and no longer living at home and him saying “I was going to ask you out a long time ago but your dad had everyone scared to even come near your house… He let it be known he sits outside with a shotgun ready and loaded waiting for the unwanted visiter! Figured it would be better to wait until you left home.”
    But now I have my 14 1/2 year old daughter and am freaking out already… Dad is not around and so it will have to be me and the brothers fighting them off… so far we have done a great job… 911 and police on speed dial works wonders… 🙂
    Always looking for something to laugh at each and every day… I read this out loud to my kids and 3 of us were really laughing hard… I had tears in my eyes and had to stop several times and reread it because I was laughing so hard…

    THANK YOU!!!!

    PS: My kids have this number programmed into their phones and they have the number memorized and they have used it several times… works when you kids really are creeped out etc… 🙂


    1. Yep, it sounds like you have your hands full but have a good plan! So glad I can share my pain and a laugh with you. Thanks for the number, and for stopping in. Cheers and my best wishes to you in the New Year 🙂

  9. My daughter is only 6, but my husband has been practicing a certain scene from Bad Boys for a few years now. We may not have guns in this house, but we do have a 4 foot broadsword!

    1. Haha! It sounds like your husband and I would get along very well! A few well-rehearsed lines from movies, spoken while brandishing a sword, would definitely do the trick 🙂

  10. My son did wear a knight’s suit on his first date with his now wife. They went to a medieval faire. (Yeah. I know. One of those.)

    1. Hahaha! Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that, along with the right medication… 😉 Seriously, though — that kind of playfulness and imagination in life makes for a happier journey. I raise my sword to them… Uh, sorry, this’ll take a minute. It’s the two-handed type…

      1. Medication notwithstanding, Jake was finishing up a chain mail vest for their six year old when we visited last. The little tyke was so proud, he wore the vest all day. It weighed close to 40 pounds.

        1. That’s awesome! My son (also named Jake) was excited when I made him a knight’s costume made from poster board and tin foil. Good for speed, bad for stopping spears and swords 😦 But he loved it anyway.

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