January 7, 2019
I think back to the day my daughter was born with such happiness. Having already had a son come into the world, the anticipation of our second child was palpable that December day so many years ago. When the clarion call from Dr. Jones announced that it was a girl, I did a dance around the room looking like a giddy fool.
As a father, the thought of a daughter was so heavenly, that I still struggle to put into words what she means to me. Daughters are gifts to their fathers to soften them by peering into their eyes with pure love.
I have seen this look many times over the years. The look of soft beauty that says love me, protect me, teach me, be there for me, don't be disappointed in me, hold me, pray with me, tuck me in at night, and so much more.
I was recently gifted the book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters written by Dr. Meg Meeker. She presents the story of daughters and fathers from the daughter perspective which is wonderful for a father to read. She aptly states that the world for our daughters is changing faster than we can keep up with. The internet and the access that children have to media that is age inappropriate is moving at light-speed. We are standing here as fathers praying to not have to engage in the conversations related to sex, drugs and social issues that are hard to explain at tender young ages. Reality has a different opinion. If we don't engage, the internet will with no filters or parental guidance.
Dr. Meeker states, " Men, good men: we need you. We - mothers, daughters and sisters - need your help to raise healthy young women. We need every ounce of masculine courage and wit you own, because fathers, more than anyone else, set the course for a daughter's life."
I think of this statement in conjunction with my thoughts of Paul Raeburn's book, Do Fathers Matter?, Men provide so much guidance by their actions on a daily basis. Are we modeling respectful relationships with women? How are we treating her mother daily? Are we respectful? Are we acting with chivalry? Are we projecting trust and strength by being present and watching but not intervening as our daughters jump into the pool without fear?
I don't believe that daughter's need to be meek. On the contrary, they need to be strong, humble and aware. Helping them see their strength is key. Standing in the storm of life can be difficult and a father can provide the ground for her to stand on. My daughter knows that I am here for her no matter what, just as she knows that drama will not benefit her. Being grounded is key to successful emotional growth. Not giving in as a parent is critical in this me, me, me instant gratification world.
For example, when her bank account is drained dry because of frivolous spending choices over the past year and a must have purchase arises for her, she has no choices left and frustration can ensue. I smile at the learning experience that has presented itself. We get to walk through the past year's purchases and rate the value of each purchase. Then we add up the lost money on bad choices. Bingo! There would have been plenty of money left if only the money was preserved for value added purchases. These events sting and this is how learning memory develops. This is where the strength to make better decisions grows. It is irrelevant whether or not I can afford to soften the blow. This is parenting. This is loving your princess.
Begin to have the conversations about life and vice as soon as you can. Your daughter needs to know what you and her mother stand for when it comes to sex, pornography, drugs, alcohol, chasing the "jones's", etc...
I have often thought that one of the greatest gifts that I can give my daughter is to love her mother. Opening doors, letting her go first, holding hands, talking respectfully, supporting her are all simple choices that I think projects and models the type of man that my daughter will look for. (Crossing my fingers) Marriage and parenting are work. However, the women in my life are worth every minute of my time!
Here is to fabulous daughters and their mothers,