In the comments of yesterday’s post, numerous people brought up the fact that the advice I’d give to a teenage son had a bit of a different feel than the advice I’d give to a teenager daughter. Paraphrasing, while the daughter-centric advice was “protective, thoughtful, and caring,” the son-centric advice came off asÂ “harsh, snarky, asshole-ly, and cynical.”
I responded to a few of those comments to explain why the son’s advice and the daughter’s advice may have seemedÂ contradictory, but I felt like I needed to say a bit more. Today is “a bit more.”
Both lists were coming from the same place — a father’s want for his children to have the best, happiest, and most fulfilling lives possible. But, since males and females are (obviously) very different —Â differentÂ motivations, different fears, different expectations — the advice did need to be different. For instance, the very first thing I told the son — he should try to wait until he’s in his early 30’s before getting married and starting a family — is, for various biological and sociological realities,Â absolutely awful advice to give to a young woman. This isn’t to say that young women can’t be successful if they followed that same path, but they’d have a much less likely chance of that happening than a guy would.
Anyway, realizing these differences, the advice I gave my daughter was a bit more protective and concerned with minimizing risk. Why? Certain “mistakes” such as having a baby at a young age or staying in a bad relationship far too long — things that aren’t “mistakes” per se, but will be interpreted as such — are generally more damaging for a woman than they would be for a man.
Is this fair? No. But, the fact remains that young women just aren’t able to get away with many of the things that young men are able to, and as a father it would be irresponsible not to recognize that reality. In my opinion, teaching a daughter how to spot and avoid bad situations is the best dating/relationship/man advice any father can give her.
I want both “team daughter” and “team son” to win the game. But, while “team son” needs to play to win, “team daughter” would be best served playing not to lose. The fact that women have certain “advantages” over men (and by “certain advantages over men” Â means “pretty much everything men do is specifically structured around getting access to them“) means that “team daughter” starts the game with a 30 point lead, and “not doing anything stupid or reckless to give up that lead” gives them the best chance at winning.
Team son, on the other hand, will need a deep playbook, a reliable substitution pattern, an advanced scouting report, an offensive and defensive coordinator, and some favorable refs to have a shot at winning. Basically, while team daughter can be the 1996 Chicago Bulls — a team that, since they had the two best players in the league (as well as the best coach, best rebounder, best defense, etc), basically won games by just showing up at the gym — team son needs to be the 2008 Boston Celtics — a bunch ofÂ grimy, shit-talking, cheating, crafty, andÂ resilientÂ motherf*ckers to be competitive
Fair? No. But again, this is a reality, and (IMO) parents should prepare their children for the world that is, not the world they wished existed.
Last thing. I want to make clear that this was the advice I’d give to my children, notÂ what I think every parent should tell their sons and daughters.Â It’s not meant to be universal, easilyÂ palatable, or politically correct, and it’s based on what I — as a man who’s had very specific experiences in his three decades on Earth so far — think would be the best way for them to navigate the dating and relationship world.
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)Â