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sophiesword's avatar

Why are fathers, as opposed to mothers, generally more protective of their daughters?

Asked by sophiesword (2294points) August 24th, 2011

Is it because a man knows what another man is thinking?

Is it also because traditionally males are thought of as the protectors of the family? If so where does this concept come from?

What are your thoughts?

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23 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Yours is a generalization that I would say is not borne out by my experience. I’ve met mothers who are absolutely fierce about protecting their children, of whatever gender, and some men who could not care less.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think fathers are more protective, I think fathers tend to be more bothered by their daughters becoming sexual beings. Men don’t want to know their moms, aunts, daughters have sex. Some, in very macho cultures reduce their wives, once they are mothers, to being wives and mothers, and get their sex on the side.

I think most women understand how men think by the time we are having children. Usually men have revealed their thoughts to their SO’s and spouses, or we as women in retrospect see the motives and observe their behaviors more objectively.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

If this is about a generalization, it comes to the Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus concept. So yes, it might come from understanding how another man thinks, as well as learning how women’s thought processes work, particularly when it comes to sex. The fact that it is reinforced in books, tv shows and movies doesn’t help.

john65pennington's avatar

You are correct. I was very protective of my daughter, as a child. There was a closeness that is difficult to describe. We are still this way, 3,000 miles apart. My son is this way with his three daughters.

Maybe, this will help to answer your question. Men will always be protective of women. I guess the good Lord made us this way.

In police work, when a lady police officer receives a call, the adjacent zone cars just automatically head her way as a backup. It’s just the nature in men to do so.

I think Mother Nature made us this way.

Good question. jp

YoBob's avatar

Well,not having daughters I can’t speak from experience. However, I suspect that it comes from the fact that men truly do understand “what evil lurks in the hearts of men” and it scares the bejesus out of them!

marinelife's avatar

I agree with Cy that it is a generalization.

If so, it is partly because men know how other men think, and partly because they have the protective instinct.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Generalization by frozen tookus. I have known men who were manwhores, who would stick it in anything that breath. They had litters of kids they would hardly know their names or birthdays but let them hear their teen daughter was dating a boy then were there. And if they had a chance to have words with the young man, they let him know in no uncertain terms that if he made merchandise of her, he better get strapped or run. They know how they are like and most young bucks are thinking with their “little head” and not the big one. Most young bucks, and even old dogs, know the quick route to the honey walls is to say those three magic words, ”I love you”. It is almost as good as ”open says me”. More females than not attach some emotion to sex where the young buck it is just a fun release. The gal he is boinking he hardly see himself setting up house with or shopping for baby clothes. That ain’t every man, but way too many.

Hibernate's avatar

It’s the same for mothers and their boys.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Fathers are socialized to be more protective of their daughters through the whole ‘she must be your little girl forever and you must have a rifle to any boyfriend’s head at all times’ hoopla. There are some pseudo-scientific reasons I recently stumbled up on (and you know that kind of source isn’t) which state that a father (and, presumably, no one else related to the girl) dislikes that another man put his pheromones on the girl that used to smell differently to the dad throughout her life before boyfriends came. The article also mentioned something gobblygook about how every boyfriend clarifies the father’s failure at something, both generally, and in relationship to the mom. Perhaps that’s true for some sad dads.


I think there’s a lot of legitimacy to your question. I have two little daughters, and I am very protective of them. I have this feeling that because they’re girls, they need to be safeguarded more than boys, because they are physically less strong and less able to defend themselves. I try to teach them to be assertive, but they have a tendency to be passive and, like their mother, unobtrusive. I see nothing wrong with being protective of my little girls, as long as it doesn’t stifle them. Besides, that’s my duty as a father. If I had a son, I’d be just as protective of him.

Coloma's avatar

My ex husband was in the “could care less” category. He was complaedcently and lazily far too liberal in his lackadaisical attitudes.
He had no problem leaving all the parenting up to me, and I was probably more concerned and protective because I didn’t have the balance. I remember one huge blowout fight when our daughter was 14 and wanted to go to a concert til 3am on a school night. OMG! What kind of idiot father would not have an issue with that? lol

It’s truly a joy now to see my daughters morals and values and sense of integrity, and, yep, ego be damed, it’s all because of mama! ;-)

Coloma's avatar

Correction: complacently.
Colomas inventing words again. ;-)

JLeslie's avatar

Maybe the question is why are fathers more protective of their daughters than their sons?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie I think it’s got to do with assumptions fathers like @MRSHINYSHOES make, that they’re less likely to be able to defend themselves, that boys are somehow more protected due to having a penis and the such. It’s really problematic, this kind of thinking, both that girls are inevitably weaker and that boys don’t need as much protection. Coupled with notions that passivity is okay for women and aggression okay for men, we get a culture that makes it difficult for any teen to escape. My parents treated my brother differently, he could ‘handle himself’ though I was alwasy the more fiery one and you simply didn’t want to get into it with me. They thought he could handle the world more than I could but he was in so much more pain than I was. I dealt with my pain by studying, he dealt with his by doing drugs and partying and trying to get power ‘as a man’. He died because of his habits. He die in part because my parents thought he was invincible.

Jellie's avatar

Your question makes sense to me. I have noticed fathers shower affection and protection on their daughters more so than mothers. I also agree with @Hibernate that women have a special relationship with sons. I think it depends on each particular culture as well.

I think for one it comes from old fashioned ideas of the male being the protector as you say and girls being considered to need protection.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Yes, but the original question is why are fathers more protective than mothers. Do you agree with that?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie I think both questions are valid, actually. I don’t agree with either assumption but there are lived stereotypes out there. Mothers care as well but they too (some of them) believe they should have a special relationship with their sons and that their spouse (male spouse) should have a special relationship with their daughters.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I guess I never felt that way. Maybe part of it is because it was just my sister and me, so I was not able to observe differences regarding the gender of a child. I certainly think both of my parents wanted to protect me.

ucme's avatar

I’m equally protective towards both my kids, my son has been in a relationship with his girlfriend for six months now. I’m acutely aware of his feelings & how sensitive he can be & would hate for him to get hurt on an emotional level. Can’t see any way this will change when my daughter starts having boyfriends, although i’d probably play the “daddy’s little girl” card if ever any boy got out of line.

rooeytoo's avatar

I have known men who thought their daughters were pure as the driven snow and wanted them to always be that way. At the same time wanted their sons to be boinking every female they could. Until all people have the same attitude towards sexual activity I think this will be the way it is. Somewhere along the line, boys and girls should be taught that sexual activity comes with responsibility and even though it is the girl who gets pregnant and carries the child, the boy is an equal partner in the deal and their lives are going to be drastically altered if the girl does get pregnant. If this were the thought process, maybe everyone would think twice and be a bit more careful, which, I think, is the way it should be. That is the way fathers should think. Double standards are not good for anyone.


@Simone_De_Beauvoir Girls, on the whole, are naturally less aggressive than boys are. That’s nature. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t know why society, especially American society, tends to view female passivity in such a negative light. It’s actually very valued in Asian cultures. Even male passivity. American values place an emphasis on independence, assertion, toughness. Because boys are naturally and proportionately more aggressive than girls, we are very much a “male-oriented society”. So we try to raise our daughters to be more like boys, and discourage their natural feminine non-aggressiveness. I think that’s a shame.

Because in America we value people who are vocal, assertive, and forthright, I as a father consciously try to raise my daughters to be more assertive and “boy-like”, so that they don’t get hurt in their everyday lives. Blame this part of the ugly American culture for that—- not my tendency to be more protective of my daughters.

Enough said. ;)

rooeytoo's avatar

Many females are very aggressive, however in females, it is called bitchiness because females are supposed to be passive, submissive and hopefully even subservient.

Let it also be said that I have, in my travels and business, met many “ugly” asians, “ugly” germans, “ugly” italians, “ugly” australians, etc.

Americans do not corner the market on “ugly”

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES I don’t believe in inherent differences in aggression between men and women. And I’m not the one to view female passivity in a negative light since women, to me, can be whichever way they want…it’s when they’re expected to be so and when boys aren’t that I give a crap…We are a male-oriented society because we are a patriarchal society and have been so for centuries because men love the privilege that comes with being the supposed ‘stronger sex’ not because it’s supposed to be that way…but good luck to your daughter anyhow.

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