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What a Daughter Needs from Her Dad
(Bethany House, 2004)

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 hide.

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 daughters.

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 dad.

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 29:17).

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 second best.

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 her birthKorea:

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 Father.

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 like?

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 House Publishers.

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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