Dads, Daughters, and Change: Part 2

Posted: January 26, 2010 in Dads and Daughters, Family, Parenting

Let’s talk about God first.  God made your little girl.  Before there was time, He designed her inside and out:  her form, her mind, her heart.  He knew everything about her.  He even knew you would be reading these words on behalf of her and wondering what in the world you should do.  He knew how lost she (and you) would feel at this moment.  And he knew what she would need.  So talk to Him.  Ask Him about your daughter.  He knows her much better than you do.  Then listen.  That’s the hard part, I know.  But press on man.  You’re not ordering a pizza; this is your daughter.  So find a quiet space and talk to Him.  He too has a lot to say on this matter and He wants you to do this well.  In fact, He is determined to bring to bear every resource that you need.  He will equip you for this!  He has even provided another, most vital resource for you.

 Your wife is invaluable here in that she is a woman and was once a girl.  She’s been there.  She knows what to expect.  No doubt you’ve already had many talks with your wife about this – she’s been processing these changes, though in a slightly different way than you.  It doesn’t matter whether your wife had a healthy or unhealthy relationship with her dad.  She has a lot to say on the subject of what a girl needs from her father.  In fact, if you’ve been married for more than a week, then you even know how your wife’s childhood relationship with her dad affects your marriage today.  This is important stuff.

 At this stage in a girl’s life, she is encountering so many new changes and likely doesn’t know what to do with them.  She knows how to be a young girl – she’s done that for a while now.  But now she is sensing changes in her body – both physical and emotional.   She is confused.  She wonders, ‘am I the only one in the world to experience this?  What’s wrong with me?’  She might even feel ashamed.  She may become clingy, testing to see if at least her relationship with you has remained unchanged.  On her trail map, “you are now here” looks a lot more like “you are nowhere”.  She is being encouraged to leave behind her place of comfort, but she doesn’t know yet where she is going.  It is here, in helping her to find her new place, that you are the most valuable. 

 The best place to start is prayer.  Though you may read along and resonate with some of the ideas that are common to all daughters, this is your daughter.  So pray specifically about what this means for her.  In doing so you may discover some nuances that are unique to your young lady.  Then consider the question of where you should guide her.  There are a lot of options.  What kind of woman should she become?  Since the time of Eden, there have always been at least two answers to that question.

 The first answer comes from the people around us, from our society, our world.  While this has undergone extreme change through each new era, we will focus on what the world is saying today.  You need look no farther than popular media to discover the identity of today’s woman.  One look at the latest issue of a magazine will tell you that she is sexy, brazen, strong, and independent.  She has her choice of men.  She has sex appeal and doesn’t hesitate to use it to get what she wants in life.  Let’s not forget that she’s also 5’8″, 120 lbs with an athletic figure, air-brushed complexion, and goddess-like beauty.  She is wanted by men of all ages and women of all ages want to be like her.  But she is unattainable by both; in part because her beauty has been edited – modified by air brushes, starvation diets, and plastic surgery.  Today’s ideal doesn’t really exist, yet so many young girls are trying to become her and are likely to spend their lifetimes comparing themselves to her.   

 The National Organization of Women has promoted for some time the message that women don’t need men to whom they are inherently and genetically superior.  Planned Parenthood is teaching young women today that childbearing is a tragic loss of self; that life itself is not sacred.  But they’re not the only ones talking to your little girl.  The rest of today’s society has a lot to say as well; they have some expectations of your little girl.  Recently, the state of New York began requiring girls, age 9 and up to be vaccinated against something called HPV, a virus that can only be transmitted through sexual intercourse.  Today’s world expects your girl to be sexually active, and indeed promiscuous in her teens.  Regardless of your religious or political views, I think you would agree that this is not the life you want for your daughter.  And yet this is how the world right now is defining your little girl.  Now, keep in mind that this definition was far different centuries ago.  It has changed in just the last ten years.  And it will change again in the next ten years.  God, however, the designer of your daughter, has defined her differently.  A brief walk through the Scriptures shines the light on what God thinks of her.

 Eve, the first woman, was placed as the crown on creation; a climactic finishing touch to an increasingly good work of art; an integral part of man, and he of her. Throughout biblical history, the Creator of these women is constantly calling forth what He has already placed deep within them.  From Sarah, He calls forth extreme faithfulness; from Esther, courage; from Deborah, prudence; from Ruth, both feminine allure and shrewd cunning.  And what about Mary, the mother of Jesus?  She was faced with the reality of a God-conceived child in her mid-teens.  God thought her capable, faithful, and courageous enough to face a culture where an “unexplained” pregnancy out of wedlock was rewarded by stoning, or at least castigation from society itself.  In all of these examples and more, God called these women by name and counted them able to face great difficulties, life-threatening circumstances, and tumultuous adventure.  Yet, such demands on their character did not diminish their deep beauty; and not just an outward beauty, but a beauty the way God instills it.  For this far more enduring beauty is placed deep within the soul of a woman and radiates to the outermost parts of her being:  a beauty that is truly inside and out. 

 Not just these women, your daughter was made in the same fashion in God’s image.  And she was made for more than what the world thinks her capable.  This princess of the King, this embodiment of God’s mystery, was wonderfully made, perfectly planned, is treasured above all things, and is made for far more than made-up beauty, manipulative sexuality, and false notions of power.   

 Tonight as you tuck your little princess into bed, look into her eyes and try to envision this precious girl fifteen years from now.  You have a choice of where you want to help guide her.  How do you see her?  Make your choice and do it soon for there are others with less noble intentions waiting to make it for you and for her. 

 Now, there is no need to despair or feel alone in this.  For this God who has set a higher standard for your daughter is also much smarter than you, me, or anyone in the world and the way He defines your daughter has never changed.  He is, in fact, determined to bring her from girlhood into the complete fullness of womanhood.  He has prepared this for her. 

 Every day there is a new opportunity for her to be challenged in ways that cause her to choose to leave behind girlhood and embrace womanhood.  There is no cause for her to think that she is called to take womanhood by force, all at once.  It is a gradual change that is both beautiful and difficult.  But He’s already laid it out in the Scriptures in advance.  The destination is already written on the map and a truly beautiful destination it is.  As her dad and guide, be aware that you will not get there without some strong opposition.  There is much that opposes what you are setting out to do.

Read more in “Part 3” of this 4 part series.

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