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OpEd: Dad wearing short shorts won’t win cheeky debate in the end

Parents shouldn't resort to embarrassment when trying to ensure that their kids dress appropriately.
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Gord Woodward, September 16, 2013 9:47:17 AM

What do you do when your teenage daughter wants to wear too-short shorts?

Do you:
A) Point out that Richard Simmons doesn’t like copy-cats?

B) Say nothing, because a hormonal teen is scarier than a Syrian strongman armed with chemical weapons? (The only difference between the two is that he isn’t willing to go to war over being told what to do)

or C) Do your fatherly duty and go for The Full Mortify, by pulling on a pair of your own short shorts, spending the day in public with her, and then making sure the whole world knows about it by spreading the word via the Web and media interviews?

If you chose C, you might be Scott Mackintosh. He’s the Utah father of seven kids (speaking of poor decisions) who decided to embarrass his daughter for her fashion (non)sense. Not that he sees it that way, of course. “I simply did this in hopes that my daughter would know of my great love for her and that she knows of her great worth,” he says.

Uh huh. Wanna bet that message got a little lost in translation?

Now, his mindset makes perfect sense to most parents — and especially to DADDs (that’s members of Dads Against Daughters Dating. Our motto: “Guns don’t kill people. Dads with daughters do.”) Too many of us have seen our girls try to leave the house attired in the latest styles lifted straight from the runways … of Amsterdam’s Red Light District.

And many of us have been sorely tempted to resort to humiliation when our wishes for modesty are ignored. But most of us hold back because such tactics don’t fit the parameters of parenting and, though perhaps effective in the short-term, could cause some emotional scarring over time. For while the old man will, in a few years, forget all about his daughter’s cheeky shorts, you can be sure she will constantly be reminded thanks to the Web’s elephant-like memory. Like Dumbo’s ears, it will keep on flapping.

A parent’s job is not to judge but instead — as we cynics say — to point out all the mistakes our kids are making. Our role is to guide, teach — and lay down some rules.

In this case, Mackintosh didn’t need to show skin to make his point (unless his point was to reinforce the notion that one man’s junk is another man’s eyesore). He just needed to show backbone.

A simple but firm “No” to his daughter would have ended this episode of What Not to Wear before anyone left the house. The same word, used while clothes shopping, could have ensured the offending item never even made it to the closet in the first place.

Sure, saying “No” means we will hear more high-pitched shrieking than in a Richard Simmons workout video. And yes, the resulting skirmish may convince you that diplomacy doesn’t work when dealing with a wild-eyed maniac.

But as parents we have to take a stand. Anything less would sell us short.

Image credit: Thinkstock

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