With Father’s Day last weekend, we’d like to know your thoughts. Is it ever OK for Dads to give their children dating advice? Are fathers an untapped fountain of wisdom on relationships, or out of touch?
Our Relationship Expert Kate Taylor thinks Dads give the best dating advice in the world. Here’s her view:
My Dad gives the best relationship advice. But he hates giving it. As soon as he senses that a conversation is about to take a dangerous detour into an emotional cul de sac, he’s up and out of his seat. Muttering something about having to “check the potatoes,” he’ll try to escape, hoping Mum will take his spot in the crisis talks.
When I do finally pin him down to an opinion, however, he’s sensational. Calm, measured and balanced, he’s as informative on topics like why men don’t call, as he is on why a car won’t start. He has stopped me wasting time on boys who didn’t care about me. He’s rebuilt my confidence after a break-up. He accurately predicted how happy my husband and I would be together, and his speech at my wedding left the room in happy tears.
“Should dating advice naturally be something we discuss with our kids, as easily as we’d teach them to tie shoelaces?”
My Mum can listen and empathise endlessly, but she is far more likely to say soothing things that just try to make me feel better. Dad’s short, sharp, shock treatment is more honest — sometimes, painfully so — but probably much more helpful in the long run.
Only half of daters over 50 give their children relationship advice
So is this an area where Dads should speak up? Last year, Ourtime ran a survey where we asked singles over the age of 50 if they ever gave dating advice to their children. Only half of the respondents said they did. But 60% of our daters also said they’d have dated differently in their younger years if they could go back in time. So, is it our duty to pass our wisdom on to our kids, in the hope they avoid the traps we fell into? Should dating advice naturally be something we discuss, as easily as we’d teach them to tie shoelaces? Or is it more helpful to let them make their own mistakes?
Is dating advice a dad’s duty?
I asked Dr Anna Machin, an Evolutionary Anthropologist at Oxford University, and the author of The Life of Dad: The Making of a Modern Father (Simon & Schuster, £9.35):
“A dad’s job is to introduce his child to the wider world beyond the family, and that includes building romantic relationships. They may be more aware of the reality of the big bad world and want to make sure their child is realistic about how relationships can go.”
Leave it to mum?
But what if a man is reluctant to talk about intimate topics like love with his children. Should he leave it to the mum? Dr Anna believes both parents have as much insight to share. “A dad will have a different perspective to a mum. Men and women can have different goals when it comes to dating, particularly about whether the relationship is going to be long or short term, so that means drastically different advice.”
I think men have important lessons to teach their children about love. But what do you think? Should dads step up and speak out, or back off?
Dr Anna Machin’s book, The Life of Dad: The Making of a Modern Father (Simon & Schuster, £9.35), is out now.