There are plenty of beliefs parents held back in the day that don’t fly today. For example, twenty years ago, it was considered a sign of good parenting, or at least engaged fatherhood, for a dad to threaten his daughter’s partner. Many wrote it off as a show of support for the child from a good protective dad — a “you hurt her heart, I hurt you” kind of thing. But in reality it can be creepy and is far from supportive of your kid’s capacity to make their own choices. Hear that Tom Brady?
On October 2, Tom Brady shared an image to his Instagram Stories, according to Gawker, that referenced his 9-year-old daughter, Vivian. The photo featured some Halloween decorations, a pretend tombstone behind a stack of them which had yet been placed on the lawn, was circled prominently in orange. Brady wanted to make it known that he was serious about the pretend grave for “anyone who dates my daughter.”
“I want to be crystal clear about this,” Brady wrote on the photo with the tombstone circled in bright orange. He also added two laughing emojis and a red heart emoji, probably to say he was joking.
Was he trying to be funny? Probably. Was it still cringe-inducing? You bet.
It’s easy to look at this and brush it aside as a harmless giggle or a typical dad joke. But Brady’s daughter is nine years old, likely years away from dating, and this threat is, in part, sexualizing her already for a joke. Furthermore, Tom is already painting the idea of his daughter dating someone with a negative brush, and that he must “protect” her like she’s some sort of damsel princess who can’t make up their own mind about who they date.
As Fatherly has pointed out time and again, dad trying to be protective through threats like these does very little for his daughter’s safety or his relationship with her. Threatening dads may simply succeed in pushing their daughters away. It is likely to cause them to engage in relationships outside of their parent’s knowledge, which can be dangerous. It can also delay the adoption of necessary relationship skills, making later years chaotic.
Brady has such a huge platform, so a lot of people likely saw this social post and felt one way or the other. But even if most people just rolled their eyes at the corny joke and scrolled on, it needs to be called out for what it is. It’s time to retire the idea of an overprotective dad being a good parent. It was messed up twenty years ago and it’s still messed up now.