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That familiar cologne. His distinct presence. The voice you knew could only belong to him. These are just a few of the things that let kids know that Dad was in the room, and while we often emphasize the importance of his relationship with sons, who most certainly need their role models, we converse less often about how much girls need their dads.
Having three boys, I can’t say that I know what it’s like to raise a daughter. However, I’ve made some startling realizations as a classroom teacher about girls’ perceptions, self-esteem, and priorities. My thoughts deepened on the issue when I considered things I’ve learned from young ladies and many of my female friends both in and out of relationships. For many, something’s absent.
Many have never considered it could be what they were missing from their dads… I do remember being a daughter, and I recall that one of the relationships I treasured the most included the bond I developed with my father. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t daily, but it was – there.
Amused by the angst I saw this past May as prom time rolled around, I became more interested in how dads really felt with the challenges of raising girls in our culture today. So I came up with some crucial conversations revolving around the following questions that we discussed over lunch at Lucille’s owned by Chef Chris Williams, and here’s what they had to say.
Question 1: “What do you do to ensure that your daughter(s) has/have healthy self esteem?”
Most guys noted that priority #1 included praise, affection, and spending quality time. Letting little girls know that you think they are the world has an amazing effect on building up their self esteem and helping them construct a defense mechanism for those who would tell them anything different. However, they also noted the importance of promoting competitiveness and achievement.
Jason Thibodeaux takes an unconventional approach of explictly sharing how guys should and shouldn’t treat them. “I want them to know what it looks like, even when it’s unpleasant,” he declares. “Then they’ll know what to stay away from.” Cedric Patterson notes the importance of “offer[ing] new chances [and] giving them opportunities to succeed…It sinks in when they have an opportunity to prove it.” He’s right.
Question 2: What has been your greatest challenge for your daughters?
This was a tough one, but interviewees honestly gave it a whirl. So what was the common thread? Not being an expert in uncharted territory. “What am I missing or not doing?” posed Damon Bell, a doting dad to both daughter and son. Aptly armed to prepare her for life’s obstacles he still questions like every parent if he’s getting it just right. Nevertheless, what he’s investing – both emotionally and spiritually is pointing him in the right direction.
Others like Aaron Smith look from the outside and see how his daughter’s kind and shy personality could lead some to believe she’s a push-over. “I see how people try to take advantage of her,” he notes. “I teach her how to be sweet without being someone’s punching bag.”
Question 3: “What has been your most rewarding experience with your daughter?”
Simply put? The majority of men savor knowing how much their little girls love them. Whether it’s hearing it through their words or seeing it in their eyes, dads know when they’re making an impact by the return on their investment. Albert “AJ” Johnson notes that his daughter’s affection is so intense that he rarely leaves without her insistence on tagging along.
“Truthfully, she’s even more competitive than my boys,” he adds, recognizing that she’s zealous to reinforce that she’s Daddy’s girl. Others like Marcus Davis, Cleo Sample, and Jason Jordan, are among the many who are beaming amidst graduation glee and college conquests that lie ahead. Motivational Mavericks like Douglas Redwine relish the readiness of their daughter(s) to conquer the world.
Question 4: “If when your daughter was 18, she met a guy who was your carbon copy at 18, would you let him date her? Why or why not?”
…and a hush fell over the room! Mixed reviews on this one, Readers. One participant exclaimed, “Yes….kicking and screaming.” While another admittedly confessed, “Absolutely not! I know where my mind was – and it wasn’t a good place.” The winner of the day came from Kenyatta Parker though who expressed, “Yes. I would because I was a good dude [pausing to insert winning smile].”
Kenyatta expounded that it was his upbringing from Mom that made him esteem women in such a way that he would never mistreat or berate them. The gentleness that he showed girls 20 years ago is the same standard that he’s teaching his daughter to expect today.
He also concurred with an overwhelming majority that he wanted his daughter “to remain a virgin until marriage” acknowledging that saving this intimate moment could protect her from a lot of unnecessary heartache (and his son, too – hats off, dads!). Overall, guys would give their carbon copies a thumbs up!
Question 5: “What do you think is most helpful to dads who are faced with raising self-reliant girls in today’s culture?”
“They have to know who they are,” started Chad Sennette. He’s a firm believer that identity, for girls and boys, is critical to their ability to both function and thrive. A wealth of men contend that girls have to “be prepared not to be dependent on others to live.”
Cedric had his oldest children analyze case scenarios in a marriage where they were the only capable, skilled partner or the only incapable, unskilled partner. They didn’t like either outcome and got the message loud and clear. Lavar Brown (no relation), who lost a 5 yr. old daughter, but currently has a 4 year old daughter emphasizes heavy reliance on a biblical viewpoint. “Philippians 4:13,” he touts – to prove his girls can achieve anything.
Father’s Day for many can be a painful time; a stark reminder of what they weren’t able to do, didn’t achieve, or may have missed. To those dads I say, your daughter may still think the world of you. My dad was absent more often than not, but it has not tarnished my admiration and affection for him in any way…because he’s my Dad. My pastor (and spiritual dad), Frederick Tibbs always tells us,”Chew on the meat, and spit out the bones.” And I do.
I can’t change the past even if I wanted to, and painful memories can be hard to bear. However, as Kenyatta, Chad, and Jason so poignantly pointed out to me, children learn lessons from what parents do and don’t do equally well. If you haven’t been the dad that you desire, don’t give up hope. Those little girls likely hold you dear to their heart. And if you have been the dad that she imagined, kudos to you. By changing her life, you are changing our world. And that’s something to smile about.
#daddysgirls, #fathersday, #dadsrock, #dadsmaketheidfference, #treasureyourtreasures, #weloveyou, #bethe1
Did you check out the slide show, it’s not too late! Click on this special Daddy’s Little Girls presentation to see even more fathers who don’t fake the funk. Their princesses are their top priority!
Special thanks for the beautiful photographs displayed by: Kenyatta Parker, Cedric Patterson, Albert Johnson, III, John Canamar, Jason Thibodeaux, Curtis Guillory, Jason Jordan, James Beard, Craig Simpson, Cedric Chandler, Douglas Redwine, Aaron Smith, Daniel Knight, Marcus Davis, Johnny Goff, Jr., Chad Sennette, Christopher King, and Damon Bell.