Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: Guest Post by Dr. Meg Meeker
Today is a guest post by Dr. Meg Meeker. Pediatrician, mother and best-selling author of six books, Dr. Meg Meeker is the country’s leading authority on parenting, teens and children’s health. To learn more about Dr. Meeker, visit her website at www.megmeekermd.com or follow her on Twitter @megmeeker.
Over the past 25 years that I’ve practiced adolescent medicine, I have had the privilege of meeting and observing countless fathers interacting with their children. Men instinctually seem to know how to relate to their sons, how important their role is in shaping their boys into the men they will someday become. These fathers tell me about the baseball games they share in the backyard and the camping trips they share each summer.
Then there are the Dads of girls. I can see the enormous love they have for their precious girls. These men seem perplexed by the princesses their daughters try to emulate and even a little uncomfortable when they are asked to play Barbies for the umpteenth time. This is the father that I want to reach. I want these men to understand to the core of their being how important the Dad-connection is to their daughters. I want them to know that they, more than anyone else, hold the keys to protecting their daughter from a society that is intent on destroying their innocence and teaching them they are unworthy. With the right tools, motivation and simple steps, Dads can become a engaged and intentional fathers and shape their daughters lives.
The following is an excerpt from my new book, The 30-Day Challenge. My goal in writing was to provide a sort of field guide for men with daughters. It is a follow-up to the best-selling Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. The book includes simple, easy-to-follow challenges with brief checklists all designed to empower men to become the examples that I know they can be for their daughters.
Excerpt from The 30-Day Challenge
Day One: The Daddy Template
Here’s a thought that will make your hair stand on end: You, Dad, are a template for all male figures–teachers, boyfriends, her husband, uncles, and even God himself–in your daughter’s life. Because you are there from her earliest years, you set a template over your daughter’s mind and heart regarding how she will interact with all males. If you are kind, she will expect all males to be kind. If you are harsh and critical, then she will expect the same treatment from other men.
Being a template is an extraordinary responsibility and is sobering. But you can handle it. You are a man. You are wired with everything you need in order to be a great dad.
You may be living at this moment with evidence of the truth about fathers being a template in their daughters’ lives. How is your wife or girlfriend relating to you? Does she have difficulty trusting you without good reason? Does she ever get angry at you over things that you didn’t do? If the answer is yes, you may have a bone to pick with her dear-old dad. The truth is, because daughters watch their dads so intently, they learn about maleness and masculinity from you. They don’t just watch how you treat them; they watch how you treat their mothers. One of the best gifts that a father can give his daughter is to treat her mother with respect and love. Your daughter gets clues about how her husband should treat her.
So, be very, very careful. If you have a strong marriage, show her mother affection. If you have a rocky one, continue to take the high road. Don’t criticize her mother in front of her and most certainly, get your anger under control. Angry men are terrifying to daughters. You can show love to her, but if she sees your anger erupt at her mother, she will be frightened of you nonetheless.
What is God Like?
Little girls tell me wonderful things. One young first grader, Carrie, chatted with me about God one day. Curious to know her perceptions of God, I asked Carrie, “So what do you think God is like?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” she said. “He’s got brown hair and a mustache on his lip. And he’s really quiet and nice.” I watched her mother smile.
“Do you ever talk to God?” I continued.
“Yup. Kinda a lot. He likes me. If I could see him, I would like to sit on his lap and tell him secrets. He is so big and squishy, and he listens a lot.”
Carries mother pulled out a photo of her Dad who was serving time in the military. He had dark brown hair, a mustache and a quiet looking demeanor. I couldn’t tell whether or not he was squishy, but I imagine he was.
Day One Challenge: Give Her More of You
Tell your daughter stories about your childhood. She will enjoy learning more about you and will readily identify with your stories about life when you were her age.
Think about specific events in your childhood and growing up years. To help jog your memory, write some brief answers to these questions:
What’s your earliest memory?
What’s the funniest, embarrassing or most scary moment you can recall?
Who was your best friend and what were some adventures the two of you had together?
What extracurricular activities did you enjoy doing?
Determine a time when you’ll share your childhood stories with your daughter?
Put it on the calendar!
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