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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Dec, 2004 6:34 am    Post subject: 10 Things Your Teen Won't Tell You ... but She Did Tell Me         Reply with quote

Health & Safety

10 Things Your Teen Won't Tell You ... but She Did Tell Me

The editor of a teen magazine tells what's on the adolescent mind.

Psst: I won't tell you my name, but I know a lot more about your teenage daughter than you do. As a former editor of a teen magazine, I read about 1,600 letters and e-mails from teen girls each month. The magazine is read by millions of girls, the bulk of them ages 12 to 18. These girls held back nothing: The magazine was their confessor, confidant and adviser.

Here, what's in the hearts and on the minds of today's teenage girls:

1. I think about sex -- a lot.

There's no question that sex is a topic of intense fascination for teens. But just because they're fascinated, doesn't mean they're doing it.

One of the stereotypes that still seems to be true, even in the 21st century, is that girls and women are more emotional than boys and men. So when teen girls think about sex, they often think about it in the context of their feelings. Sometimes this is problematic, because a girl can be persuaded to think that if she really loves a guy, it's okay to have sex with him, and even, on some level, required.

At the same time, girls' emphasis on feelings can make them cautious, because they aren't typically looking to go out and "get laid." In fact, in a survey one teen magazine did last year of 15,000 girls, a whopping 73 percent reported that they were virgins, and 49 percent of those said they were proud of it.

Given how powerful hormones are, and how much sexual imagery there is in the media, it's natural that your daughter is going to talk and read about sex. But think of it this way: She's being driven by a need to find out information -- about her body, his body, the repercussions of her decisions -- and studies have found that the more educated girls are about their sexual options, the less likely they are to get pregnant.

So let your daughter talk. It's a good way for her to explore her values and feelings about sex. And if she senses that you won't judge her harshly, preach ceaselessly or make light of her concerns, there's a good chance that she'll let you in on the conversation.

2. I want to be a star -- or at least be with a star!

Whether it was Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles or Michael Jackson, every generation has swooned over some idol. But the current generation of girls seems to have taken celebrity worship to new heights, or lows, depending on your point of view. Much of the mail I received was devoted to pleadings for a meeting, date or tour with the star of their dreams. There seemed to be little understanding -- even among this relatively savvy and streetwise generation -- that these working celebrities really can't arrange to hang out with fans. Second, despite what the stars say in interviews about the backbreaking work necessary to attain their status, more and more kids seem to think that becoming a celebrity is a genuine career option.

To parents I say: Make fun of this fantasy at your own risk. You'll only be further alienated from your daughter. Instead, I recommend exposing your teen to other career tracks -- starting with your own or your husband's. Show your teen the challenges, responsibilities and rewards of your work, and don't be afraid to expose the frustrations or stresses. Your daughter will appreciate being taken seriously.

3. I take your cash flow for granted.

The downside of the last decade's thriving economy is that most teens don't understand the concept of waiting to get what they want. Even if you're personally trying to hold the line, there will easily be two or three other parents in your daughter's school who already bought their teen the cutting-edge nonskip CD player, or the latest designer boots, or booked the entire dance club, complete with live band, for her sweet-16 party.

Your child will not be placated with tales of "When I was your age, I was thrilled to get a new pair of high-tops." She will likely feel entitled to whatever goodies are dangled in front of her by increasingly aggressive marketing tactics that have spilled out of the confines of commercials into regular TV programming (consider all the brand-waving on TV sitcoms and reality shows).

Your only recourse is to decide what's appropriate to spend on her extracurricular life, then make her earn her own money to buy goodies beyond that amount. Over the course of your daughter's lifetime, easy money will not be guaranteed, and this is a lesson that's less painful learned early than late.

4. I'm not religious, but I am spiritual.

This generation of teens may not be setting any records for church attendance, but they do, when asked, characterize themselves as believers in God and are interested in issues of faith. Even teens who didn't necessarily relate to born-again Christianity admired Cassie Bernall, one of the girls who was killed in the Columbine High School massacre, for allegedly not backing down on her religious convictions, even to save her life.

Today's teens also believe in putting their money where their mouths are. They say they are more likely to buy brands that give back in some way -- by donating money to the environment or by being concerned about the animal population. And while teens certainly pick pop icons based on style and coolness, they tend to love those stars more if they stand for something, such as helping to fight cancer or building homes for the poor.

5. My bedroom is the seat of my soul.

The "Keep Out" sign on a teen's room is a cliche by now, but one that's still useful to heed. More than ever, girls use their bedroom decor as a way to express their creativity and individuality. A staple of a teen girl's room these days is at least one wall plastered with hundreds of cutout photos of favorite celebrities, as well as photos of her and her friends. But it doesn't stop there. Themed rooms (her favorite sport, her favorite season, her favorite place) or colors that match her mood at that moment are in force.

Maybe it isn't your particular aesthetic to have a mural of mythical sea creatures painted all over the ceiling, but consider this: If your daughter is proud of her bedroom, she is far more likely to invite her friends over to hang out. And if you like the idea of knowing where she is, you'd better get used to photo collages and multicolored murals.

6. I worry about my looks all the time.

One of my most heartbreaking discoveries was how much time girls spend assessing their physical attractiveness -- and deciding they came up short. This was the only obsession that really came close to rivaling their fascination with guys.

One of the ways I tried to help girls was to divide their concerns into attributes they could do nothing about (height, for example) and those they could (weight). The problem was, the list of things girls believed they could -- and should -- do something about grew every day. (I ran a story about the troubling rise of plastic surgery among girls, that showed that liposuction for teens was up 132 percent.)

Of course, not every girl who wrote, worried that she was too fat, was wrong. While teens liked reading about exercise and nutrition, too many of them were couch potatoes with dismal diets. So I tried to showcase girls who were naturally and joyously athletic, and let them do the preaching to other teens in the magazine. These girls were normally proportioned and usually had self-confidence to spare.

So, do be vigilant about this problem. When you're looking for fun family outings, break out the bicycles instead of take-out pizza and a video. And do keep telling your daughter she's beautiful to you, and will be beautiful to those who truly see her soul. These verbal embraces are necessary inoculations against the demons of self-doubt that eat at your daughter daily.

7. My friends are everything.

It would be hard to exaggerate, especially for girls, just how critical their girlfriends are in their lives. As a parent, you'll sometimes feel -- if you haven't already -- that you're less important to your daughter than her 12 best friends. In a certain way -- take a deep breath -- this is true.

What her crew offers her that you can't (and shouldn't!) is a place in the world where she is an equal, an operator, where she has a shot at controlling her destiny and identity. That's a heady feeling. With you, she will always be the kid.

A dinner out with you...well, later for that. Try your best not to be destroyed or enraged by this attitude, because it will pass. Your daughter may be 22 by then, but, hey, that still leaves you a good 40 years of dinners together.

8. Love hurts.

From where you sit -- working, doing chores, keeping your marriage happy, helping your aging parents -- teen life, with its endless pursuit of love and happiness, seems enviable indeed. But the bulk of the mail I got from girls was full of tortured questions about guys and love: what to do about being ignored, scorned or betrayed; whether there was life after crushing heartbreak; whether they really were losers in love.

So try to keep your daughter's perspective in mind when you see her on the phone or e-mailing friends for hours. Remember that obsession with love and sex is hardwired into her brain; in a very real sense, she can't help but fixate on this. If she's talking about one boy 24/7, don't tell her it's just puppy love and that she'll forget about it soon enough. (Don't you still remember your high-school romances?) Take her seriously, and be sensitive to the fact that she feels mystified, mortified or manhandled by the god of love.

9. The world is a scary place.

Sure, my readers enjoyed learning about the workings of the boy brain, and loved to laugh over tales of other girls' embarrassing moments. But the stories that touched them most profoundly, and inspired them to write the most thoughtful letters, were those that addressed the serious -- and often scary -- things that happened in their world. School shootings. Violent boyfriends. Drugs slipped into drinks at parties.

Unfortunately, I didn't have to dig hard to find these stories. Many came directly from readers. The reason it was so healing, cathartic and ultimately empowering for troubled girls to read these pieces is that they helped them to know they weren't alone, and that it is possible to survive tragedy. What's more, testimonials coming from other teens have a much deeper impact on a girl's psyche than a lecture delivered by Mom. For example, one reader wrote: "I had been considering having sex, but then I read your story [about teen moms] and it made me realize I'm not ready. Thank you for stopping me from making a bad decision."

The magazine gave the girls the nuts-and-bolts information they needed to stay safe. Look closely at the serious stories your daughter is reading, and use them as a jumping-off point for a broader conversation about the issues addressed.

10. I love you, and I need you.

If you're like most parents, you're going to have to wait till about your daughter's thirtieth birthday before she can say, "I love you, Mom," out loud, without stammering and blushing. Until then, you'll endure a lot of abuse and even pain. But the fact is, girls told me over and over that they loved their parents, even while they were complaining about overly-strict curfews and demands for better grades. That's important to note: You don't have to abandon discipline or your rightful place as the authority figure to earn your daughter's love.

So unless you're faced with some seriously dysfunctional family dynamic, be assured that despite all the eye-rolling and even occasional venom, your teen daughter does love you, and she wants you to love her. Just don't tell her how you know.

'Gott Bewahr Die Oprechte Schotten'
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Last edited by Thomas McDonald on Sun 19 Dec, 2004 8:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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Patrick Kelly

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PostPosted: Sun 19 Dec, 2004 7:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Mac. It looks like Tom has been doing some reading in an attempt to prepare himself for the coming storm. Big Grin

As a veteran father who's raised one daughter I've got a couple of nit-picks with that editorial. Overall though I think it's pretty good.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Ken Jay

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PostPosted: Sun 19 Dec, 2004 8:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As the father of twin 16 year old girls I can attest to all of the above. Makes for a exciting life and I'm hanging on by my finger tips! Eek! Cry Razz Worried Happy Cool
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Thomas McDonald
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Dec, 2004 8:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Thanks Mac. It looks like Tom has been doing some reading in an attempt to prepare himself for the coming storm. Big Grin

As a veteran father who's raised one daughter I've got a couple of nit-picks with that editorial. Overall though I think it's pretty good.

Hi Patrick

Yeah, I got this in my mailbox this morning ..... guess I found it interesting enough to pass along ;-)

I agree, not everything here is gospel, nor applicable to each familys case, but it is food for thought !

I would be very curious to hear your nit-picks, though !
Nothing like getting the scoop from a dad who has survived these years :-)

My Rachel (13 years old) always says "I love you" , so it's good that I won't have to wait till I'm 65 to hear it ;-)

Happy Holidays, everyone ! Mac

'Gott Bewahr Die Oprechte Schotten'
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Steve Grisetti

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PostPosted: Sun 19 Dec, 2004 10:59 am    Post subject: Whew!!         Reply with quote

My daughter is 23, and has been married for about a year. We have a good relationship, and that is probably helped by the fact that she lives in England. Sad

With kids as with all things, there is the good news and the bad news. The good news is that they grow up and leave home. The bad news is that they grow up and leave home.

I feel for you folks that are still dealing with the teen years. My wife and I really went through the wars....
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Mark Moore

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PostPosted: Sun 19 Dec, 2004 11:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jolly good thread, Thomas! I agree with just about all of that. My sixteen year old stepdaughter is the absolute epitomy of 'teen girl hotness'........reminding me very much of her mother at that age. The age when I WAS the boy that I don't want my girl to go out with! My large collection of edged weaponry and my generally gruff demeanor have been quite sufficient so far , in deterring any unwanted advances made upon her by any young gentlemen callers. She's a good girl, though. I'll worry when there's something to worry about. Until then, I'll just keep on polishing my baskethilt whenever she has a young laddie come to call. Big Grin .................mcm.
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Patrick Kelly

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PostPosted: Sun 19 Dec, 2004 2:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would be very curious to hear your nit-picks, though !

The first thing is the claim that girls are more emotional than boys. I've raised both and this isn't true. Boy's are just trained to hide their emotions. That doesn't mean they aren't there.

The second thing is treating their room as if it's their "off limits" sanctuary. I always adopted the attitude of "It's my room. I just allow you to live in it." I always let my kids have a certain amount of latitude when it came to those things. On the other hand it's important to teach them that there are limits to everything. It doesn't matter where you are in life, you'll always have to work within some kind of structure. Most of the time it won't be of your own making. I never let the older kids dye their hair or get tatoos when they wanted to, and my oldest son could not get an ear ring. It's not that I had a problem with most of those things or even cared. It's just that they need to learn that there are limits and those were easy ways to teach that concept.

The last thing that I disagree with is that we should give complete validation and priority to our children's emotions. I love my kids more than anything. Let's be honest though, teenagers are all drama kings and queens. Yes, you need to let them express their feelings. No, you shouldn't blow them off and tell them that they don't know anything. There will come a point though when you need to tell them " I understand that you're upset and you have every right to be. But you really need to put this in perspective and realise that it's not the end of the world." From where their standing they think it may be because they don't have our life experiences to reflect on. They need us to help them with the proper perspective.

Here at the dawn of the 21st century our children are in a collective crisis. They may be more wise to some world issues than we were but that doesn't translate into maturity. IMHO they are far less mature and responsible than previous generations. That isn't their fault though. It's ours. For the last three or four decades we've been told that we need to be our child's friend, and that we need to build their self esteem. Consequently what they've actually learned is that there is indeed such a thing as a free lunch and they're entitled to super-size it. Many of them don't realize that self-esteem comes from achievment through hard work, not from wearing the latest power shoes or having the latest video game.

We need to teach our children that adversity is a challenge to be overcome not a crisis to whine about. Notice my signature line. Highway Patrol recruits weren't the only ones who used to hear that on a regular basis. My oldest son is currently in the Navy and serving on the Isle of Crete as a Navy Master at Arms (MP). He just got promoted and is now in charge of his own watch team. The other day he called me while he was on duty. One of his subordinates asked him something. My son said "Just a minute Dad." A muffled conversation was carried on for a few seconds that concluded with my son telling the sailor to "Suck it up!" My son couldn't understand why I was laughing on the other end of the line. Big Grin The same thing happened with my daughter. She works in loans and acquisitions at a Bank. She called one evening after she started the job. When I asked her how things were going she said she was a bit frustrated. When I asked her why she replied "These people are lazy Dad. I just wish they'd suck it up and get it done."

So you see everything you do and say has an impact on your kids. As the saying goes, "lead by example". Nowhere is that truer than in raising children. They're paying attention whether or not they really act like it. Sometimes you feel like you're beating your head against a brick wall (or maybe beating theirs against one), in the end though it's worth it.

Here endeth the lesson Laughing Out Loud

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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K. Schall

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PostPosted: Wed 22 Dec, 2004 8:41 am    Post subject: a little humor         Reply with quote


Notice: this application will be incomplete and rejected unless accompanied by a
complete financial statement, job history, lineage, criminal history, driving history
and psychological evaluation.

1. Name____________________________Date of Birth________________
2. Height________Weight___________I.Q._________GPA_____________
3. Social Security #_________________Driver's License #______________
4. Home Address_______________________________________________
5. Telephone #_____________________Pager #______________________
6. Do you have one male and one female parent?____If NO, explain_______
7. How fast can you run 40 yards?_______________2 miles?__________
8. Do you own? A) A van______B) A motorcycle_______C) A waterbed_____
9. Is any part of your body pierced? (Includes earrings)________Tattooed?______


10. What does LATE mean to you?_______________________________________
11. What does DON'T TOUCH MY DAUGHTER mean to you?_______________
12. What does ABSTINENCE mean?_____________________________________
13. Church you attend___________________How often attended_______________
14. Best time to interview your Minister_________Mother_______Father_________
15. Answer by filling the blanks. Please answer freely. All answers are confidential.
a. The last place on my body I would like to be shot is_____________________.
b. If beaten, the last bone I would like broken is__________________________.
c. A women's place is in the__________________________________________.
d. The one thing I hope this application does not ask me about is_____________.
e. In the event of my untimely death notify_______________________________.
f. My greatest fear is________________________________________________.
g. When I meet a girl, the first thing I notice about her is her_________________.


16. What do you want to be IF you grow up?________________________________
17. Have you ever been fingerprinted?______Had a DNA sample recorded?________
18. Your dentist is____________________


Thank you for your interest. Please allow four to six years for processing. You will be contacted
in writing if you are approved. Please do not try to call or write. (It could cause disqualification and
injury to your body.)

There is another version out there that i will post if I can find
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David McElrea

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PostPosted: Wed 22 Dec, 2004 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote


I like it... I like it a lot! Laughing Out Loud
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M. Taylor

Location: Chesterland, Ohio
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Dec, 2004 6:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a great topic and very timely. My oldest girl turns 15 in just over 2 weeks. She went from 'boys are toxic waste' to 'some boys are actually pretty cool' in a mere couple of weeks this past fall and now has a boyfriend. I showed her the application this morning and (fortunately) she laughed. Her young gentleman (16-1/2) is actually a nice kid - fortunately for him Eek! . Patrick, your comments are spot on. These are the very lessons we've tried to convey to all four of our kids from the get-go. Our oldest is definitely in that moody teenage phase, but we do get an 'I love you' out of her once in a while. The other three are younger (13, 10, almost 8) and are still in that sweet, cuddly stage. Aaahh, we're in the greatest adventrue of all, gentlmen! Merry Christmas.
"Only people not able to grow tall from their own efforts and achievements seek to subdue their fellow man."
"Only people not being able to find comfort in their own mind seek to silence others. " - Per Bylund
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Jack McGregor Lynn

Joined: 12 Oct 2004

Posts: 44

PostPosted: Thu 23 Dec, 2004 8:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm a young man so I get to deal with the father-with-a-shotgun approach from the other end. It's not fun at all. I would describe it as being alot like chewing broken glass, but a bit less entertaining.
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K. Schall

Joined: 16 Dec 2004

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Thu 23 Dec, 2004 9:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know the father with shotgun type ar not fun, i've certainley dealt with enough of them lol.

But here's the other part aka the rules for dating my teenage daughter.

10 Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter...

Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk you'd better be delivering a
package, because you're sure not picking anything up.

Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so
long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes
or hands off of my daughter's body, I will remove them.

Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to
wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips.
Please don't take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are
complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I
propose his compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and
your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, in order to ensure
that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with
my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely
in place to your waist.

Rule Four: I'm sure you've been told that in today's world, sex without
utilizing a "barrier method" of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate, when
it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.

Rule Five: It is usually understood that in order for us to get to know each
other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day.
Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication
of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only
word I need from you on this subject is "early."

Rule Six: I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to
date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter.
Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date
no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make
you cry.

Rule Seven: As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear,
and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time
for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a
process that can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of
just standing there, why don't you do something useful, like changing the oil in
my car?

Rule Eight: The following places are not appropriate for a date with my
daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden
stool. Places where there are no parents, policemen, or nuns within eyesight.
Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or
happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my
daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts,or anything other than
overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka - zipped up to her throat. Movies
with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies which features
chain saws are okay. Hockey games are okay. Old folks homes are better.

Rule Nine: Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a pot-bellied, middle-aged,
dim-witted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the
all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going
and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the
house. Do not trifle with me.

Rule Ten: Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the
sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy near
Hanoi. When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently
tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon
as you pull into the driveway you should exit your car with both hands in plain
sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have
brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car - there is no
need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine.
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Jack McGregor Lynn

Joined: 12 Oct 2004

Posts: 44

PostPosted: Thu 23 Dec, 2004 11:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Again, funny until you have to deal with it from the other end. And there really is no way to deal with it. Your date's dad automatically hates you. Doesn't matter your party affiliation, your history (both social and legal); It doesn't even matter if you have a good rep with his friends. You're still his mortal enemy. And even if you manage to subdue this threat to your health and wellbeing by means of a blunt object, it tends to alienate your date. It's a lose-lose situation.
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Kenneth Enroth

Location: Finland
Joined: 04 Dec 2003

Posts: 288

PostPosted: Fri 24 Dec, 2004 12:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Reading this stuff about protective fathers I must say it sounds totally alien to me. Maybe it's an american phenomena. I have never recieved such vibes from any parent. If I felt outright hostility from a father I would take it as an insult. Most are happy that their daughter is dating and off the market.

There are religious or ethnic groups that fiercly protect their daughters and don't let you in unless you are one of them.
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Robert W. Betten

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Joined: 23 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Fri 24 Dec, 2004 12:48 am    Post subject: Re: a little humor         Reply with quote

K. Schall wrote:

8. Do you own? A) A van______B) A motorcycle_______C) A waterbed_____
9. Is any part of your body pierced? (Includes earrings)________Tattooed?______


BTW I own a Bike, muscle car, i'm pierced to hell, tattoo'd more then a sailor and my GF's mom loves me Razz I'm sure her dad would have too if he were still with the living (my GF is an american).

"If the people we love are taken from us,
the way they live on is to never stop loving
them. Buildings burn, people die, but real
love is forever."
- Sarah 'The Crow'
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Kenneth Enroth

Location: Finland
Joined: 04 Dec 2003

Posts: 288

PostPosted: Fri 24 Dec, 2004 5:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, I got it now. You're afraid that your little girls are growing up and leaving you. That's the suorce of the hostility. In that case I wouldn't take it personally. Then it's actually a good sign. You just need some reassurance.
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