Fathers of Daughters

This article over at the Huffington Post by Justin Ricklefs gets so much right about being a father to daughters. I would only add a point about nurturing imagination through stories and poetry so that they learn a deep engagement of the world around them. Of course, matters of faith and spiritual formation are also crucial to redeeming each of these categories he describes in his piece (cf. my pieces here and here on family worship over at the Christward Collective.

The comments at the beginning of the piece are common to my experience as well, being a father of five daughters. I always have mixed emotions when I hear them. I understand that people feel like they need to acknowledge that I have five daughters, as if I wasn’t aware of the fact, but there is also a presumption that this is somehow not the way I wanted our family to turn out. It is hard to describe how far that is from the way my wife and I think about it.

“I feel sorry for you when they become teenagers.” “Dude, you’re surrounded by women.” “What did you do to deserve that?”

Being a dad of four daughters (we also have one son), I hear stuff like this almost daily. And honestly, I’m the one who feels sorry for people who think this way.

Having daughters is one of the greatest joys I could imagine. We have a saying at our house that goes like this, “I love you more today than I did yesterday.” Raising girls is a privilege, not a burden.

I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but I have learned 15 things about raising girls these last 11 years.

1. She wants to be loved. More than she wants the stuff you can buy her or the things you can teach her, she wants you to love her. No one else on Earth can assume your role as daddy. Your daughter will let you down, make huge mistakes, and maybe even turn her back to you for a season, but don’t ever let her doubt your love for her. Look her in the eye and tell her you love her. Lots.

2. You have an influence on her future partner. Scary thought, but the kind of man you are to her will have a direct impact on who she chooses to marry some day. For years, our third daughter would beg me to marry her when she grew up. I had to explain that I was already married to her amazing mother. If you’re doing it right, she’ll want to marry someone like you one day.

Read the rest here.