Consulting dad, for better or for worse

Geez, I hope the dad said yes

I stumbled upon an old article in the Boston Globe that talked about the revival of the old “man basking the bride’s dad’s consent” tradition, and it made me think of The Beard’s proposal. He did in fact call my dad to ask his blessing, mostly because I’d told him a number of times that my dad would really like that. My dad, as you might guess, is an old fashioned dude. For the record, I would have married The Beard even if my father had told him to buzz off–he was asking for my dad’s blessing, not his permission.

What interested me more than the article itself was the range of responses I found in the comments section.

If a young man wanted to come talk to me about marrying my daughter BEFORE he had talked to her, I would have serious reservations about the man. I think it would show a lack of respect for the woman he wanted to marry. This is something I would expect my daughters to figure out on their own (like grown women) and then come tell me once they had decided. For most of us women, it is a reminder of a time when we were excluded from a lot of the decision making about our lives. Completely creepy.

If you’re going to discuss getting married as a couple, then why even propose or ask?! What’s the point if you’ve already discussed the subject? Sorry but with how important my family is to me, I would want my parents consent before a guy asked me to marry him. Maybe I’m old fashioned or maybe I am lucky to have a supportive family that knows who I am.

I asked her father’s permission before proposing to my wife. What was his answer? Essentially: “Thank you for asking; we like you and would certainly welcome you into the family; however, it’s not our decision to make, but our daughter’s.” Many of my friends have done the same thing with similar results; I think it helps the situation by recognizing that family extends beyond the two core people involved in the proposal.

Because I respect my wife, I did not ask her father for permission to marry her. And, he was old school. Why not? Because, it wasn’t his decision. And, what if he had said no? I would have really disrespected him by marrying his daughter against his wishes. Or, I would have disrespected myself and not have married her. Women aren’t property–I’ve looked on eBay.

I always thought it was super lame and old school to ask for my parents “permission”, as I am not a piece of property and i have been on my own since i have been 19, and my parents are not paying for my wedding either. My boyfriend knew my feelings, and to be honest I was not very strong either way. He ended up asking them, taking an entire Saturday, driving to RI, taking a hour long ferry asking them and then taking the hour long ferry back FIVE hours later. It meant a LOT to my parents. I’m happy he asked them, just because they are happy.

If this is really just about greater inclusion of the families, then why aren’t prospective brides being asked to call their potential husband’s mother/father to “ask permission”?

While I did not ask my father in law for my wife’s hand in 1988, it was a mistake. I hurt my relationship with him for the first 5-6 years and only in the last 3 years before his premature death, did we finally make friends and become family. There’s something called respect and common decency that had been largely forgotten by Americans. I am glad to see it returning with the young people. The path to my daughter is through me.

Honestly, I would have been offended had my (now) husband asked permission of my parents. I was 25 and living on my own when we got engaged – why on earth would they have any say in my decision? Even a “courtesy conversation” is ridiculous, IMO – I think there’s something twisted about the parents knowing before the daughter that the proposal is coming.

What say you? Is this tradition quaint or creepy?

15 Responses to “Consulting dad, for better or for worse”

  1. Cara January 4, 2008 at 12:47 pm #

    I like it only if he did it because it’s something he KNOWS the potential bride and her family would appreciate him doing, and he put thought into whether or not to do it.
    My fiance asked my father, and I think he appreciated it, I think he took it as more of an opportunity to give the fiance advice.

    IDk that father who said “The path to my daughter is through me.” is a bit creepy to me.

  2. mkb January 4, 2008 at 12:52 pm #

    I only asked my father-in-law because my wife required me to. I wouldn’t have even thought of it otherwise.

  3. C* January 4, 2008 at 1:23 pm #

    My husband spoke with my parents and asked their blessing before he officially proposed to me. We had talked marriage and had gone ring shopping so it’s not like it was that big of a surprise when he proposed to me….the when and where of the proposal were a surprise, the actual proposal wasn’t.

    However, we did go the same route as NtB: my husband did not ask for permission, he merely asked for my parent’s blessing. My father is well aware that I am an adult and can and do make my own decisions and that while his blessing was important to me, I would still be making my own choice when my husband proposed.

  4. de January 4, 2008 at 1:44 pm #

    I think asking for their Blessing is a nice thing to do, but it should never be asking for Permission. Hopefully if you’re getting married, you’re an adult and don’t need mommy and daddy’s permission to do so. (Hopefully I say, hopefully.)

    Asking BOTH parents of the bride for their Blessing, and having the Bride ask for the Groom’s parents blessing is a nice way to show they wish to include their parents as a part of the new family being created.

    And yes, the “the way to my daughter is thru me” comment is very creepy – I wonder what his daughter thinks of that?

  5. Anna January 4, 2008 at 2:55 pm #

    Obviously, asking for permission today is a formality, a tradition, and not necessarily something that is necessary. Hopefully, before a groom asks permission, before he even proposes, he should know the answer. I find it ridiculous if one is not sure; you’re obviously not in a good and communicative relationship if you don’t know whether someone wants to marry you. You should also know what the bride is like; if she’s independent and doesn’t talk to her parents often, then asking seems silly. But if she is close to her family, then doing it the traditional way is like saying “I’d like to join your family.” Maybe people have different perspectives on marriage, but I always view it as the joining together of families as well as the start of something new, so I wouldn’t have any problem with my entire family (and his too) knowing (and approving) he was going to propose before I did, as long as in our relationship, it was clear we were going to wed.

  6. Leah January 4, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    Just like everything else in a wedding, this is SO individual to the people involved. Several people I know are barely on speaking terms with one parent or another. I know that BOTH my stepfather and my father (and most likely my mother) would appreciate a conversation with my BF if we were getting engaged. However – the key word is “appreciate.” It’s not necissary, and I don’t think it would hurt relations with him and my family if he didn’t ask. If you’re thinking about marriage, this is a good topic to bring up.
    BTW- “If you’re going to discuss getting married as a couple, then why even propose or ask?! What’s the point if you’ve already discussed the subject? ” Who doesn’t talk about getting engaged anymore? Who is ever REALLY surprised? I mean, the chances that you don’t want to get married, that the ring is ugly, that it’s not a good time… If you can’t even discuss getting engaged, what’s gonna happen when you sign a mortgage or file your taxes??

  7. srah January 4, 2008 at 5:55 pm #

    “The path to my daughter is through me” is almost as bad as those creepy father-daughter Purity Balls.

  8. Dianasaur January 4, 2008 at 5:55 pm #

    My husband also asked my father’s blessing rather than permission. I knew that would be important to my father, it showed him that my husband respects him. It also gave him an opportunity to ask about things that were important to him that might have been awkward otherwise (how we’d make our living, etc.). That gave my husband an opportunity to have a good discussion with him and allay any fears my father might have.

    My parents knew we’d be getting married, I’d been on my own for 7 years already, but they appreciated the gesture. I’m also blessed to have a loving family. I have friends whose father left them, in that situation there wasn’t even a question of whether their future husband should ask his permission.

    I guess I’m saying it just takes common sense. It’s a nice way to show respect for her parents, but if they don’t respect her it probably isn’t a good idea.

  9. Laura V January 4, 2008 at 11:51 pm #

    My husband did not ask my father, either for permission or a blessing. This didn’t bother my father in the slightest — my father not having asked my mother’s father for permission, after all, and since we are all atheists, blessings were not on the table.

  10. Josie January 5, 2008 at 3:16 am #

    My guy popped the question on Christmas Eve, amongst both sets of parents, one grandma, an aunt/uncle pair, my brother and sister, and of course, my parents’ dogs. He also asked my parents before hand, which sent some of my more hardline feminist friends a-ranting about how I am not property and my fiance clearly considered me as such since he engaged in this HORRIBLE practice, etc., etc.

    While I appreciate the roots of the tradition and we would have gotten engaged regardless of response, I like that he asked, not because That’s The Rules, but because my fiance should be comfortable with asking my parents for advice of that magnitude, and hey…if they’ve been hiding some secret, deep dislike for him, they should have a chance to let it out before the next step. Our families are extremely important to us – we always want all sides to be on the same page. I think a lot of wedding traditions with creepy roots have lost the original, skeezy intent and now the modern bride wears a white dress because her mom, and her mom’s mom, wore them, etc.

  11. Twistie January 5, 2008 at 3:22 pm #

    I think my father would have been more confused than anything if Mr. Twistie had asked permission to marry me. And Mr. Twistie knows that if he’d asked permission from ANYONE but me, he’d be a single man today.

    OTOH, both my parents and his mother had already done things that made it clear we were considered part of the family well in advance of our formal engagement. I think we’d been dating about two months when his mother gave me the ‘one day, all this will be yours’ speech and my mother knitted Mr. Twistie his own Christmas stocking. That sort of made any question about parental approval moot.

  12. Tizzy January 6, 2008 at 12:12 am #

    Actually the person I find this tradition to be most disrespectful of is the bride’s mother. Why ask for only the father’s blessing?

  13. La Petite Acadienne January 7, 2008 at 3:27 pm #

    I think the moral of this story is that if you don’t know the woman and her family well enough to know what to do re: parents’ blessings, then you might want to hold off on the proposal a little while longer.

  14. Anonymous January 7, 2008 at 6:27 pm #

    My hubby actually asked for my mom’s blessing before asking me. And my dad’s (they’re divorced) after the fact.

    And I didn’t know that atheists couldn’t give blessings. I thought that these blessings were less of the ‘invoking God’s favor upon’ and more of the ‘conferring good wishes or approval’ type.

  15. Laura March 16, 2008 at 11:25 am #

    I think that the fact that a lot of men already have the ring and sometimes plan to ask shortly after contacting the father or parents means that it’s more for blessing than permission.