In God’s kindness, I had the privilege of meeting and spending a little time with Fred Zaspel during the Ocean City Bible College.  I was impressed with the evident way Fred loves his wife, Kim, and his children.  His passion for the word of God and for Christ our Savior is evident.  And don’t get him started talking about Warfield!  He’s written a wonderful book on Warfield’s theology.  But Fred possesses a rich sense of humor, too.  And that’s come through not only in our conversation but also in our emails recently.  Here’s an example of why Fred’s a man after my own heart:

Daddy’s Rules for Dating His Daughters

Rule One:

If you pull into my driveway and honk you’d better be delivering a package, because you’re sure not picking anything up.

Rule Two:

You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter’s body, I will remove them.

Rule Three:

I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don’t take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, in order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.

Rule Four:

I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilizing a “Barrier method” of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate, when it comes to sex, I am the barrrier, and I will kill you.

Rule Five:

It is usually understood that in order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is: “early”

Rule Six:

I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.

Rule Seven:

As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is getting ready, a process than can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don’t you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?

Rule Eight:

The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter:  Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden tool. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to introduce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka zipped up to her throat. Movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies which features chain saws are okay. Hockey games are okay. Old folks homes are better.

Rule Nine:

Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a potbellied, balding, middle-aged, dimwitted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house.

Rule Ten:

Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy near Hanoi. When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveways you should exit the car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car – there is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine.


Some may be uncomfortable with the threats and allusions to violence.  But I’ve got to go out and by an electric nail gun!

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34 thoughts on “Daddy’s Rules for Dating His Daughters”

  1. Gina Zaspel says:

    Fred Zaspel’s daughter again….I think I like this one even more! :)

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Gina,
      So glad to hear from you! It’s great to see a daddy’s girl totally appreciate how dads feel about dating :-)

    2. William says:

      Gina, your father is my hero! My daughter is only four and I am already agree with the rules your pops has laid out! Except the one about Vietnam, I’ve got Irag war syndrome… I’m prone to see any boy approaching my home as “the enemy!”

      Good luck dating Gina… Good luck… Oh, and Fred, email me if you need help operating that shovel!

  2. Awinst01 says:

    No offense – these are great rules, but weren’t most of them taken from W. Bruce Cameron’s Book “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter”? Some of them are almost word for word identical to his list. Just thought he might deserve some credit for the borrowed material.

    1. Fred Zaspel says:

      I’ve wondered what exceptionally insightful father first came up with this – good to know. Thanks!

      1. David Booth says:

        hi Dr Fred Zaspel your humor. Tried to email you at the biblical studies site address but it keeps bouncing.

        1. Fred Zaspel says:

          I can be reached through our church website — Thanks.

    2. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Thanks for the reference. Do you have a link?

      1. Joshua says:

        The book is W. Bruce Cameron’s “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter”. It was adapted into an ABC sitcom from 2002-2005

        The 8 simple rules are detailed on the trivia page of the ABC show’s information:

        The original book is on amazon ( The chapter begins on page 229.

  3. L. says:

    This must be a hoax. This must be a hoax. No, seriously…

    How about letting the daughter have a say in whom she wants to date, and what she wants to do? How about trusting that you’ve raised her to be a responsible person with good judgment?

    1. Gina Zaspel says:

      He does trust me. But you have to admit, these rules are so over the top hilarious! Just so much fun! :)

  4. samuel222 says:

    This is satire, right? Because I cannot tell if it is, which means it is either very /good/ satire, or terrifying reality.

    1. Dakota says:

      I hope this isn’t satire!
      I am a girl.
      I have a dad.
      I sure hope these rules are his rules!
      If they are: I respect them and him.
      I would feel more loved to have my Dad chuck a guy out (that I liked and he didn’t) than have him say to me “Well, if you like him that’s your choice…” and take absolutely no interest in my life.

  5. Paul says:

    What a wonderful post. I was forced to stop reading part of the way through because I was so overcome by the way in which it embodies the teachings of our savior, particularly Christ’s compassion and love for all. I am thankful, though, to have been able to continue through rule #3, as I had never thought to convey objection to modern fashion trends with a nail gun, echoing the way Christ was nailed to the cross to redeem us from our sins.

    Thank you for this example of living Christ’s teachings – truly they will know we are Christians by our love.

    1. Geoff says:

      Give me a break!

  6. Allen Mickle says:

    Knowing Fred, I can say this is a great example of half in jest, full in earnest. :) Love the nail gun.

  7. Meghan says:

    I’ve read these before, years ago…the guy is plagiarizing if he’s claiming them as his own.

    By the way, does he have sons? And are they offered the same “protections”? Either way this whole thing is extremely sexist, why do only the daughter’s dates have these rules?

    1. jo says:

      Because sons don’t get pregnant.

    2. Jonathan says:

      Obviously, you are not a father of a daughter.

  8. Todd says:

    For those of you who cannot understand the humor it is obvious that either you don’t have a daughter or you don’t love her as you ought. Obviously trust is a huge issue with your children. But the bible says that the heart is full of deception and desperately wicked… So young men who have intentions to date one’s daughter may have other intentions that are not shall we say admirable. I’d say it would be the foolish father to entrust their daughter to such a young man. Thanks for this post, my wife and I got a good laugh.

  9. Thabiti says:

    This was very interesting and I can see you saying some of this when your girls start dating. Look out girls.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      I already say some of these things! :-)
      But I have a question for you: Is your name really “Thabiti” too?

  10. James H says:

    Well said! Way to go, Fred – as a father to 5 daughters and 3 sons so far, I must say: you read my mind.

    Except, if anyone tries to date any of my daughters, they will be introduced to their Maker.

    (( I will leave that up for interpretation. ))

  11. mark mercado says:

    original or not, sexist or not, very funny, and very visual.
    good humor, and honestly, what is wrong with a father trying to protect his “little girl”

  12. Stacey says:

    Cute :) Yes, I can see why some might be offended by the humor, but the bottom line is a Daddy who loves his girl enough to protect her. God loves us like that, and I’m glad. I didn’t grow up with someone who was willing to step up on my behalf, and as God teaches me that I am His treasure, I rejoice!

    Thanks for the post. And to those of you who are offended, and I say this in kindness because I used to be there too…lighten up!

  13. geoff says:

    wow… if she’s anything like her father… no thanks, he can keep her. ;-)

  14. felicia says:

    i though my father was the only one had strict rules for guys that date me.

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Thabiti Anyabwile

Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor for Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

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