Parenting memes give frightening perspective on children and dating

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Tackling them one at a time, the “Rules for Dating My Daughter” list is slightly less upsetting. At the very least, some of the items on the list (the third and ninth) can be loosely translated to having respect for the daughter in question.

However, the second item on the list, “Understand, I don’t like you,” makes it clear this is a no-win situation.

While the “Rules for Dating My Daughter” list isn’t explicitly from the perspective of a father, it definitely evokes some stereotypical masculine characteristics behind it, such as violence: “You hurt her, I hurt you” and “I don’t mind going back to jail.”

Now to unpack the “Rules for Dating My Son” list, the assumptions this list makes are frightening.

First, it assumes that all women are interested in a man for his money, only the female is to be blamed for “sexting” and girlfriends are completely worthless yet somehow marriage makes one’s opinion matter.

Beyond the assumptions the list is making, it is explicitly coming from a mother’s perspective and is deeply controlling and overbearing. If you have a son old enough to be dating, especially dating in a capacity that could potentially lead to marriage, you no longer have a say.

The second item on the list is nothing more than slut shaming at its worst. What is “looking like a stripper”? It is not a mother’s job to police the clothing choices of other women. The eighth item on the list goes along these same lines. What does “You better act like a lady and deserve that” mean? Again, mothers do not get to make these judgments of their children’s partners.

The job of a mother is to raise respectful children who are capable of choosing their own partners. Once a child is out in the world meeting partners, a mother’s job is finished.

To the parents posting these lists on social media, think about your role in your child’s life. Do you feel like you have a say in whom they date? If so, you might want to reevaluate your relationship to your child because there is a good chance it’s bordering on controlling, and all that does is teach your children that a controlling relationship is normal and okay. It’s not.

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