The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.
Dads and daughters form amazing relationships. I just spent the weekend with a friend who counts two daughters among his three children. It was fun to watch the unique relationships he has with his girls. One is a relationship of constant teasing as his 11-year old loves “getting dad” anyway she can. The other is one of consistent encouragement as his 14-year old is trying her hand at music (Dad’s specialty) and taking those teetering steps toward womanhood.
The cool part is that he’s actively engaging their worlds. Now, I raised two sons so I never faced the challenges of helping shape a daughter’s life. But I’ve observed a lot of families and I see the tendency of some men to pull back when their daughter reaches the more challenging stages of puberty. Yes, mom has more of the answers she needs, but dad has a major role in encouraging the flowering life in bloom.
First, dad is a her biggest fan. Girls need to know that they are beautiful, special, talented, and really smart. Who tells them? Dad! He’s the man whose opinion matters most, so his approval goes a long way toward shaping the self-esteem that will keep her out of bad relationships. Guys, ask yourself why you would starve your daughter’s need for approval so she’ll look for it from any other guy who would give it. ‘Cause that’s often what happens when dad goes silent in his daughter’s teen years.
Second, dad is her protector. He’s not on the planet to humiliate her in front of her friends, but to help her see that not every friend is “good enough” to have a major place in her life. Now, I’ve seen dad’s play this role. Their shotgun jokes are funny to their middle-aged friends, but your daughter needs a champion in her corner, not a pit bull. Making sure that her friends are bringing out good things in her life is your job, dad. Making all her friends uncomfortable isn’t.
Finally, dad, be her leader. That means you have to be ready for the next stage of your daughter’s journey before she gets there. If you’re still seeing your 18-year old little girl as the 12-year old you remember, she will rebel. Learn all you can about the stage of life in front of her and start preparing her for it now. Don’t make your daughter drag you “kicking and screaming” into her reality. You’ve got to grow with her and you’ve got to get to tomorrow’s stage first–that’s what a leader does. He gets where we’re going before those he leads.
I’m proud of my friend and the relationships he enjoys with his daughter’s today. There are challenging waters ahead, but when you’re daughter knows you’re in the boat with her, you can find a way to keep that boat upright.