Stumbling or Building: What
Kind of Block Are You?
By Michael Farris
A chip off the old block.
The very words connote a pride in their children that dads just cant
Visit any youth sports game anywhere in Americaor a dance recital, or
school concertand you will observe fatherly pride in full bloom. For
a number of years Ive coached girls softball teams, and each has included
at least one of my daughters. There have been some moments of real pride
watching them play ... like Katies crucial hit in the softball semifinals
one year against a lightning-fast pitcher. We won 10. And there was Angies
consistent fielding ability in a team of seven- and eight-year-olds, which
made her one of the genuine stars for the whole year. And who can forget
the year that Emily made the last out at shortstop to seal the championship?
And Christys pitching and Jessicas batting ... and Katies grand-slam
home run that got her Christian high-school team into the state playoffs.
In a totally different venue, there was Jaymes starring role in The
Nutcracker ballet.... I could go on.
I have seen dozens of other fathers exhibit this same kind of pride in
their daughterssometimes appropriately, sometimes excessively, and sometimes
obnoxiously. But I steadfastly believe that fatherly pride is a good trait
overalland it is very natural.
Pride is a tricky word. Used in one sense, it describes a self-centered
characteristic that lies at the root of the vast majority of evil deeds.
But there is another characteristica positive quality of simple admiration
and joythat the word pride also describes. Pride in workmanship
means doing a good job, producing quality. Pride in our nation leads
our armed forces to fight and die for our country and its ideals. And
pride in our family describes a man who sacrifices his own desires and
interests to do what is best for his family.
This natural God-instilled pride in our families has been on the wane
in our nation. Men have been looking out for number one at rates that
are truly alarming. Only 61.7 percent of children today live with their
biological fathers. In 1960, at a time when most of todays fathers were
children or not yet born, 82.4 percent of Americas children lived with
their own dad. This statistic measures primarily one thingan increase
in self-centeredness. Me-first-ness. Men and women today are much
less willing than prior generations to exercise the kind of parental responsibility
that should be the birthright of every child. The societal consequences
of such widespread selfishness are reflected in crime statistics, poverty
reports, and the rapid decline of our culture.
But this book is not aimed at such fathersthe ones who have taken off.
It is aimed at the men who have shouldered the responsibility, who have
stayed home, who are trying to be faithful. And it is specifically aimed
at men who have the special privilege of being the father of one or more
Those of us who have stayed with our families, or who have taken over
as active stepfathers, may have a false sense of accomplishment when we
look at the world around us. We see so much flagrant irresponsibility,
we can legitimately say, If I grade myself on a curve compared to
those fathers, Im doing pretty well. In one sense, hanging in there
for the long haul, providing, and going to all those games and recitals
is a very good thing.
Yet we need to realize that God doesnt measure success in fatherhood
based on the worlds standards. Our daughters are so inherently precious
in His sight that our effectiveness as dads will be proved by the unwavering
plumb line of their livesand certainly not in comparison with some deadbeat
God has called us to raise our daughters in the nurture and admonition
of the Lord, as Paul told us (Ephesians 6:4 kjv). And if we heed Solomons
counsel to hold to Gods standard of nurture and discipline, then our
daughters will give us peace and bring delight to our souls (Proverbs
Pride in our families and love for our daughters motivate us to be the
best fathers we can possibly be. We shouldnt accept good enough or
In fact, fatherly pride can be life changing. One young woman I know,
Yee Seul, tells a story of her family when they lived in the country of
We used to be really, really poordestitute. My dad became desperate
to the point of suicide. He was going to kill himself. He then saw me
lying in the crib. He thought of my mother remarrying and what my life
would be like growing up with a stepfather. In Korea, like in Cinderella,
stepparents are mean to their stepchildren. Because of me, he decided
to stick it through. After my sister was born, we came to America. Since
then, my parents have been very blessed financially.
My father is not yet a Christian. But his natural, God-given love for
me allowed me to grow up in a home where I was taught good morality
and sound responsibility. Even more importantly, I came to know Christ
as my Savior as a direct result of coming with my family to America.
My fathers love and protection for me changed both his life and mine.
Your role in your daughters life will have profound, lifelong effects
on her. You will shapefor good or for illher ideas about a husband.
And even more sobering is the thought that your actions as an earthly
father will dramatically influence your daughters view of her heavenly
None of us will ever be perfect. Nonetheless, we have no excuse to be
satisfied with mediocrity. The sad truth is that it is not only the children
of absentee fathers that are at risk. Tens of millions of daughters have
fathers at home who are often a stumbling block to their daughters healthy
growth and development.
* * *
What about you? What are you doingor not doingthat makes you a stumbling
block in your daughters pathway to healthy, godly womanhood?
You can become the kind of dad who sets a healthy foundation under
his daughters feet. One who, with the help of God, your wife, and others
paves a level path for her to walk into maturity. The work is not that
hard, but it does take diligence and a willingness to step out of our
own leftover immaturities from boyhood.
How about it? Are you willing to grow and change yourself to give your
daughter the best gifts she can ever receivestrength of character, depth
of soul, emotional healthand a glimpse of what the heavenly Father is
You can pass on a heritage of health and spiritual maturity. Isnt that
what you want?
Dont wait another second. Begin today...and youll find a lifetime
of reward. In fact, two lifetimes...or more.
Excerpted from What
a Daughter Needs From Her Dad by Michael Farris. Copyright 2004.
Used by permission of Bethany
Michael Farris has the experience needed for a book of this kind --
he's the father of six daughters and four sons. President of Patrick Henry
College, a constitutional lawyer, and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense
Association, he counsels men and women across the nation on parenting issues.
The Farris family lives in Virginia.
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