Being a dad is hard. Being a dad to a little girl is even harder. It’s nerve-wracking, gut-wrenching, panic-inducing and probably a hundred other hyphenated adjectives. It’s not because girls are difficult to raise. On the contrary: My daughter is the easiest of my three kids. She’s smart and mature beyond her years. It’s because of the things that come along with raising a girl.
Just before sitting down to write this, the news broke that they found the body of Mollie Tibbetts, the University of Iowa student that went missing roughly a month ago. I can only imagine the pain her parents are going through. As a father, we feel that protecting our children is the most important thing we can do in our lives. Something like this happening to our children is the biggest nightmare of a failure of that duty that any father can imagine.
Of course, there’s no way that he could have been there to protect her from this, and we can’t shelter our kids all their lives. So, as our kids venture out into the world more and more, the more we deal with all the hyphenated adjectives I mentioned before. My daughter is only 13. She’s quite a few years away from going off to college, herself. But I feel it lurking as if it’s coming next month.
The dangers that women face scare me. It’s bad enough that they have to put up with the annoyingly obnoxious male ego, but add to that a little testosterone, and some men don’t know how to handle themselves. Sure, most of us just act stupid, say bone-headed things or maybe even be a little inappropriate around a woman. But some men take it way too far, like the suspect in the Iowa case that was filming women as they jogged. Dude, really? Or, the numerous cases you hear about men stalking women. Then there are the cases that end up similar to Mollie’s. There are also hundreds of other cases just like hers that we never hear about.
You’d like to think that women can avoid fates like Mollie Tibbetts’ by being a little extra cautious: Don’t jog after dark, never travel alone, always lock your doors, etc. But I had a friend and radio colleague who was murdered, after being raped and robbed, in her own living room by a strange man who was let in to her secured apartment building. The truth is, you never know when something like this can happen.
But you can’t live your life in fear. The best you can do is be aware of your surroundings and situation at all times. Know how to defend yourself. If carrying a weapon is your method of choice, so be it. But you won’t always have time to reach for a weapon, so it would be advisable to know how to physically demobilize an attacker for at least enough time to grab your weapon or run away. I’ve told my daughter for years that she will get some self-defense training before she ever sets foot into a high school. I may not be able to protect my daughter at all times, and I may not be able to keep bad things from happening to her. But you can bet I will make sure that she’ll give an attacker a hell of a hard time.