This is a message for you. And for all of your friends who have become surrogate daughters to me over the last 23 years of your life.
I’d like to chat about Fifty Shades of Grey. And before you get totally creeped out at the concept of me talking about Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, I need you to work with me. Deal?
So the comment I keep hearing from television talk show hosts is, “You don’t want to take your mother to this one!” I’d just like to chime in and suggest that the same holds true for every single dad out there. We’ll take a pass. You go enjoy yourselves.
With all this movie hype comes a stream of unending conversations about whether this movie is a healthy portrayal of real relationships. My sense is that you’re old enough – and wise enough – to know the difference between fantasy and reality.
Funny enough, this kind of reminds me of when I was about to head off to college. The big movie that summer was Animal House – a comedy about the inside world of fraternities. I’ll spare you the details but my dad – Grandpa – was disgusted by it. Imagine how he reacted when – in the middle of all the Animal House hype – I announced that I had pledged Sigma Chi!
Of course, as you know, I had a wonderful experience in the Greek system.
A good reminder that everything on the silver screen isn’t an accurate portrayal of reality.
I’m guessing the same will be true for Fifty Shades of Grey. And while I promise you won’t see me sitting in the movie theater, I do know what the main storyline is all about. (Don’t worry. I’m not going down the S&M path at all). But I will go down the path – for all you girls in my life – of reminding you that you should never fall into the trap of thinking you can change a guy. For all your talents, you don’t have superpowers. And changing someone – morphing them into that perfect image you hold in your head – isn’t reality.
It won’t happen.
Relationships don’t work that way. And guys aren’t wired that way. Which brings me to the second thing I want to mention.
Young men – the guys you know and hang out with – are an entirely different breed than the generation of men I grew up with. And that’s a very good thing.
When I was in those post-college-post-fraternity days, the world said I needed to prove my manliness and strength by getting a good job where I focused on earning a living – while all the time pretending to be a guy devoid of any nurturing, caring feelings. Well, as you know, that charade didn’t last long because I like to think I hit my best fathering stride when I gave myself permission to let you and your brothers experience the real, authentic me. Nurturing and caring all in one package.
What’s fantastic is that the guys in your life have been initiated into a world where a man actually shows and reveals his strength by being a person who cares. Studies confirm it – including a new one from Dove Men+Care, which concluded that 90% of men – globally – view their caring side as a real sign of their strength. 90%!
The image of modern masculinity has evolved. And for me, it feels like it’s happened right before my eyes!
I just finished reading a book titled Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men. It’s author, Michael Kimmel, made a bunch of interesting points. At the top of his list is the fact that your generation is comfortable with cross-sex friendships. When I read that, I thought about my experience as your dad – and I reflected on how true that is. You – and all your friends – have always been comfortable having boys as good friends. And your brothers are the same way with girls. That rarely occurred when I was your age. And I hope you know that I not only think of it as wonderful, I think it’s a sign of very positive changes happening in male-female relationships.
So what’s my point?
Sweetheart, I just want you to know how lucky you are. You’re also living in a time when most men view you as their equal. As they should. You’re living in a world where men not only know how to care – they want to share that quality with you and the people they love. Best yet, they feel really good about that. Which makes me feel really good because I see a world of men with the emotional capacity to be a good partner, friend or whatever it might be for you. And you – each and every one of you – deserve that.
I know. Dad’s babbling.
Go enjoy Fifty Shades of Grey. Thank you for sparing me any of the details.
And just remember, the love of your life will be nothing like Christian Grey.
He’ll be better.
I love you kiddo,