Saving Your Daughter

Saving Your Daughter

One of the blessings of teaching high school English literature was to discover how certain stories touched various students. I recall a day when my class was discussing a novel in which a young girl’s beloved father dies from a debilitating disease. Many of the students said that they had friends or relatives who had experienced similar tragic moments.

After class, one of the girls stayed behind, and I could tell she wanted to share something with me.

“Mr. Addis,” she began, “my father died when I was twelve. He had cancer.”

“That must have been very hard for you,” I offered.

“It was.” She paused for a brief moment and added, “I still have my dad’s pillow. Even after these many years, I can still smell his after shave on it. It kind of helps me to remember him.”

I recalled this conversation during the Good Friday service at my church. Two rows ahead of me were a mother and her three daughters. The father, who was an usher, was busy “ushering,” and, so, for a while, was not with them. When he did slide into their pew, one of the daughters, who appeared to be perhaps seven years old, moved past her mother and two sisters in order to stand next to him. He put his arm around her and drew her close to his side. She leaned against his arm and occasionally smelled his coat sleeve. I am sure that she simply enjoyed the familiar, comfortable smell of her father.

Over the years, I have come to many conclusions about life, and one of them is that there is no greater example of a man’s masculinity than when he is walking hand-in-hand with a little daughter. Her tiny hand engulfed in his must bring her an unconscious feeling of love and security.

All of this brings me to the message I would like to share with all fathers of daughters: Please do not underestimate the influence you have on them. With rare exceptions, you can either help your daughters grow into beautiful, faith-filled women, or you can, either through indifference or neglect, push them toward a life of bad decisions and bitter outcomes.

Rick Johnson, author of That’s My Girl: How a Father’s Love Protects and Empowers His Daughter, offers seven characteristics a dad should demonstrate for his daughter. Let’s take a look.

  1. Be consistent: No matter what happens, a daughter needs to know that her father will always be there for her. He must be the rock in her life. He must be “kind, loving, and forgiving.” When the world seems to be crashing around her, he must be a haven of security.
  2. Love unconditionally: A daughter needs to know that she is loved simply for who she is. She must never feel that her reason for being loved is that she gets good grades, is “pretty,” or is always well-behaved. She must know that her father will give his life for her without hesitation.
  3. Give encouragement: A father must look for every opportunity to encourage his daughter in all things that are wholesome and character-building. For instance, he should urge her to volunteer to help others in need or be active in a church group. This will build her self-esteem, and she will be less likely to seek affirmation of her worth through sexual activity.
  4. Gain respect: It is critical for a daughter to respect her father. She will not listen to his advice or follow his rules if he is a hypocrite. Johnson writes to fathers, “If you try to force her [to obey] through fear or intimidation, she will eventually rebel and you will lose influence in her life. But if your daughter respects you, she will willingly follow your wishes as she knows they are in her best interest.”
  5. Speak the truth: Society will tell a daughter that there is no evil in the world, and that one’s truth is just as valid as another’s. But a father must stand in the breach and proclaim the truth as taught by Jesus and his Church. He must also give his time and money to causes that reaffirm those teachings. She will learn from his wisdom and example.
  6. Share physical activity: Women tend to focus far too much on their body shape, which often leads to a poor self-image and even psychological damage. But if a father can spend time with his daughter taking a walk, riding a bike, or going for a run, there is a good chance that she will avoid the aforementioned problems. And the added benefit is time together to talk.
  7. Be transparent: If a father can admit that he has made a mistake or to say that he is sorry, a daughter will see him as genuine. Chances are, she will look for a man in her life who is the same way. No decent father wants to see his daughter marry a man who is either an obnoxious bore or a demanding martinet.

Years ago, singer Perry Como sang a song written by Ervin Drake about being the father of girls. Good fathers will easily identify with it. Below are the lyrics:

When you’re the father of boys,
How you worry,
But when you’re the father of girls,
You do more than that,
You pray!

From the time of diaper and pin,
“Till the time they cry, “Don’t come in!”
“Till the time you gown them in white,
And give them away,
You worry, you worry,
You worry night and day!

When she’s a plain little girl,
How you worry,
But when she’s a beautiful thing
You do more than that,
You pray!

Boys come ‘round when they want a date,
Girls may only stay home and wait,
When’s she’s ought you sit up all night,
With her first baby toy!
You trust her, but worry,
‘Cause you were once a boy!

When you’re the father of boys,
How you worry,
But when you’re the father of girls,
You do more than that,
You pray!

Pray, fathers. Pray.

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Written by
Thomas Addis
1 comment
  • Tom:

    As the father of just one little girl of 46, I found your post relevant and deeply touching. Forwarded it to her and asked her if I measured up. A little anxious about her response.

    I used to feed her when she was just a few months old. I would get the morning paper from outside and read it while feeding. Sometimes I would be so engrossed in the sports that I would stick the nipple in
    her little nose.

    We lost her mother last October, quite suddenly over one 24 hour period. My little girl is a big actress in our local
    Theater. Was playing Lady McBeth the night before she died. Told me had no understudy. I told her that nothing was going to happen tonight and to go on because the show must go on. Went on the night she died as well. So very proud of her.