When Fathering Girls: Love and Protection

When Fathering Girls: Love and Protection

When Fathering Girls: Love and Protection

We’ve heard it over and over, but it’s still a truism, having a father is good for a girl. Having a father provides a girl with love and protection, encouragement and a relationship that is just WELL different, from what moms provide. Yes, there are troubled relationships between girls and their mothers and they could also occur between girls and their fathers. But for a girl to grow up and navigate the world of love and sex, marriage and children, or having children with a man without benefit of marriage, that father figure if he is loving and understanding, supportive and open-minded, can truly give that girl a head start. And if he is not?

Maybe he has only one of the above qualities. I don’t meant to describe the perfect father that maybe doesn’t exist. But I do believe a girl’s presence in a man’s life can soften his edges, open his eyes to the future of all of his dealings with women in a way no one else can. His daughter is the FUTURE of womanhood–as he relates to it. And he wants the best for her. Yes, he wants that for his wife, but caught in the constraints of time–he now sees more for his daughter. He sees change and advancement stretching out into the future and he routes for her. He begins to believe that girls, just like boys, can thrive.

This all might sound dated. You’re thinking–things have changed–all men are aware of the importance of fathering their daughters. We don’t need songs about it, like Billy Bigelow singing in the musical comedy, Carousel.

You can have fun with a son, But you gotta be a father to a girl.
She mightn’t be so bad at that, A kid with ribbons in her hair!
…But my little girl Gets hungry ev’ry night and she comes home to me!

Both parents prepare for their children and want to do the best for them. But life gets in the way. Families are so different now–with step-fathers and absent fathers and fathers raising children with no mother. The ability to fly from coast to coast, take jobs in different places or work remotely via the internet has also affected the composition of the family. Sometimes the mother is the constant, but sometimes it’s the father. That’s great, as long as there is a constant.

My father died when I was three. But I had a mother who was so loving and understanding, who put her children first, always, that I turned out all right. There were uncles in my life, fathers of my friends. They helped me see how fatherhood worked. Once, my father took me to see his brother, my uncle. But the man had a new television and was more interested in talking about how it worked. My mother related this little story more than once–how my dad came home with me in his arms and said to my mother: THEY JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT WE HAVE HERE. That’s father-love. I felt it then and it  sustained me through the years at some level, because I turned out all right.

The protective role of the father is needed more than ever in a world of Face Book and photo sharing, pornography and the sexualization of young girls. Readers might remember  when five-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was found murdered in the basement of her family’s Colorado home on December 26, 1996. JonBenet participated in child beauty pageants, because her mother had been a beauty queen and supposedly JonBenet wanted to echo what her mother did.

In an interview in 2012 her father, John Ramsey, reacting to the popularity of the reality television show TODDLERS AND TIARAS, said that letting his daughter compete in pageants is something he regrets. “Only because- that possibly might have drawn attention to us. I don’t know. But-  I think for- for advice to a parent is just recognize that- regardless of where you live, there- there could be evil around you. And- and don’t be naive about it. And keep your kids protected.” Even in death, that’s hard to do as a television series about JonBenet’s life and death will be airing soon.

Writer Naomi Schaefer Riley took a hard look at the reality show TODDLERS AND TIARAS. She wrote: One father, who had a rap sheet of drug and alcohol abuse, sued for custody of his daughter. The girl, now 6, was a regular on the pageant circuit, where she appeared dressed as Dolly Parton, complete with padded bra and enhancements for her rear end. Apparently, her father wasn’t happy about this.

Thousands of girls appear in these pageants, along with hundreds more on television shows glamorizing the whole culture of miniaturized sex objects. Last year, one of the 3-year-olds on the Toddlers & Tiaras reality show dressed up as Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman, before Richard Gere sent her on a shopping spree. Another little girl appeared singing Sexy and I Know It at a nightclub.

(My milllennial son was so upset about this he wrote a song about it.) I can’t imagine this for my daughters and granddaughters. I didn’t even like them watching the film Pretty Woman when it came out in 1990 and they were sixteen and twelve. I recently watched the film again. It is still true fantasy that could never ever happen to a prostitute. And I am sure the film has been used by pimps as a device to lure innocent but desperate girls. But many will still say ah, it’s so light-hearted! Maybe, but crosses a line that’s hard to pinpoint.

In her article Riley stresses the importance of fathers being involved in their daughter’s lives. She states: A protective presence lets girls grow outside the sexualized pressure of our culture. She is so right!

Where once fathers might play ball with their male progeny, now they can pick a sport or an activity that their daughters want to pariticpate in. And if busy work and travel schedules make attending practices difficult (and this can be mothers too) it’s not hard to find time to sit and talk about what a daughter has achieved in gym class or dance, softball or piano. SOMETHING! Attention and time with DAD is what girls need and fathers too. You can’t always know your child while they are part of the larger family crowd. One to one is meaningful and necessary. A game of chess or checkers, a walk, and the always possible drive in the car provides a quiet time to find out what’s going on in your daughter’s head.

Let’s hear it for slowing down the push to grow up; for reaching a plateau of growth that can be celebrated and yet HELD ON TO for awhile. Blink and your daughter (or your son) is beyond your control and you are asking what you did wrong. STOP THE CLOCK. Talk to her. Put her on the pedestal of attention she deserves. Protect her from stupid choices that can bring her sorrow. Love and protection are key. And beauty pageants? She’s beautiful in your eyes. Others eyes can wait until she’s an adult and ready to walk in the wide world.

Thanks to shutterstock.com and storyhighlighto and pinterest.com

When Fathering Girls: Love and Protection

Sorry-but this is NOT Cute.

10 thoughts on “When Fathering Girls: Love and Protection

  1. I think that every father wants a son but I can tell from experience (I have both) that there is nothing so special to a dad as a daughter. Parenting is critical to a child’s upbringing even more today than in the past. Today we really do live in a global society not only with international travel but of course with the Internet. Young girls need someone to champion their ability to make common sense decisions to protect then while growing and maturing and to provide them with the training and knowledge to make safe and informed decisions as grow into adulthood. I am very grateful to have had a boy and a girl and to appreciate them both but a daughter’s relationship with her father is different than it is with her mother just like a sons relationship with his mother is different than it is with his father and that’s the way it should be.

    • Lovely reply, Mel. And your insights I totally agree with. Thanks so much and so happy for you that you have reconnected with Carey. Life is full of surprises and we just reach out our arms and take them in. Beth

  2. Hi, Beth

    I enjoyed this post about relationship between father and daughter. Yet it is important that the girl grows up to have closed relationship with her father. However, that relationship will help her to grow up to beautiful person if the father is a mature person who will in-plant a positive life values on her.

    This is harder to be parents because of busy schedules. Fathers really have to put in effort to spent time with daughters. The effort is worth it.

    Have a nice day!

    Stella Chiu

    • Thanks, Stella. I agree. Even 30 minutes a few nights a week can forge a great friendship between father and daughter. All it takes is the desire. Beth

  3. I feel for kids who grow up with out a Dad. If they have a loving Grandfather that really helps. I know it sounds old fashioned, and not always possible or a good thing, but the unconditional love of a Mom and a Dad is not something to poo-poo!

    • Totally agree. I was fortunate to have lots of “moms” my own and my aunts. I was fearful of men in my early years, because I really didn’t know many of them! I got over it.

  4. My husband is a super talented father to two amazing girls. Last month he gave the Father of the Bride speech at the oldest’s wedding. He said “I always wondered what it would be like to have a son. What I got instead were two girls who acted like boys half the time. We backpacked, we worked on the house, we built stuff. And they have turned into amazing young women. So Brendan, welcome to our family, as the third son.”

    • Oh Kim, I LOVE THIS. Thanks for sharing it with me. Very meaningful and your husband is awesome. We had two daughters and then when I was 42 we had our son. But John loves his son-in-laws too and YES we did lots of camping with the girls.

  5. Hi Beth! I was fortunate to have a father who I never once doubted his love for me or my other sisters. I didn’t always agree with him (especially when I was older) but I learned a lot from him and deeply miss him not being alive today. I also worry about young girls growing up so fast today but because I have no children of my own I can only do it from a distance. You offer some great advice here and I hope mothers AND fathers read it! ~Kath

    • Thanks, Kathy. So glad you had a father that guided you and brought you love. So important in our world I appreciate your comment, Beth

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