One father is receiving high acclaim from the internet for treating his daughters like human beings.
Originally uploaded onto Instagram and Facebook this past Sunday, J. Warren Welch wrote a viral post explaining that his daughters’ future dates will have to ask the girls, not him, what “their rules are” for their relationships. Satirizing fathers’ “dating rules” for teenage suitors, the post shifts responsibility to the kids for leading their own lives.
“I’m not raising my little girls to be the kind of women who need their daddy to act like a creepy possessive badass in order for them to be treated with respect,” Welch wrote. “You will respect them, and if you don’t, I promise they won’t need my help putting you back in your place.”
Welch caps off the post with “good luck pumpkin,” commenting in both posts’ photo descriptions that he “ain’t raisin'” princesses.
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“I was a feminist long before I had daughters, but it wasn’t until I was blessed with the task of raising young women that I realized why,” Welch told Today Parents. “These girls are amazing humans, and I can take no credit for that other than the fact that I at least knew that the best thing I could do for them is not try to ‘mold’ them.”
Of course, while it’s rare to see fathers treating their children like individuals, autonomy is part of a healthy familial relationship. Welch deserves respect, but throwing enormous praise onto him as a feminist father figure is giving him a pat on the back for treating his daughters like humans—which is a pretty low bar. Meanwhile, little praise is passed around for every mother in the world who treats their daughters the same way.
My long time followers are well aware that I'm not one for staying "on topic" from post to post. My writing is wildly…Posted by J. Warren Welch on Thursday, September 7, 2017
What’s worse, some of the post’s wording is misogynistic. Welch acts as if a “princess” is a bad thing (“princess” is often a sexist insult to women men believe are “high maintenance”), and that “women who need their daddy” automatically lose respect for being dependent on a father figure. And like the viral husband who loved his “curvy wife,” Welch’s posts (especially the third-person quoting of himself at the end) leans toward performative feminism—putting the spotlight on his own good deeds instead of women themselves.
Welch is likely a good dad who has the right intentions in spreading a message that many men haven’t considered. But maybe it’s time to stop heaping endless praise onto dads who want a cookie for treating their girls like adults. Doing the right thing shouldn’t be a mind-blowing achievement for any father, not even a feminist one.