Tomorrow is my father’s birthday and just a week after will be the eight year anniversary of his death. I know it sounds like a cliché, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I do not think of him. He was my favorite person to argue with, my spiritual guide, my first love and the only man I’ve ever known whose love came with no conditions. I miss him terribly. Even after 37 years, I still adore my father. I still live to make him proud, heed his warnings, hear his words, and if at almost two score years old I still need my dad, how much more does your daughter need you now?
Your daughter needs you to protect her. My daddy held my hand until I was about 11 years old. Literally. Whenever we crossed the street or entered a busy parking lot, he grabbed my hand. If I was in the front seat and we came to a stop, he stuck his arm out. When I yelled from the top of the stairs, he came and turned the light on to make sure I made it down the stairs safely. But my father did not just protect me physically; he protected my spirit and my emotional well-being also. My father prayed for me and studied God’s word with me. He told me exactly what men thought so I’d be prepared for the game. He was the first line of defense between his baby girl and this toxic world. Your daughter needs you to her soldier. She needs you be faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. She needs you to pray for her protection and be a hedge around her heart that is so high only the strongest men can climb it. You are her first love. Protect her at all costs.
Your daughter needs you to teach her. Proverbs 22:6 reads, Train up a child in the way she should go, Even when she is old she will not depart from it. This scripture is the truth! Do you know at 37 there are still things I will not do because my father taught me better? And at times when I have strayed off the path, it was my father’s teachings and the Word of God that brought me back. From you, your daughter will learn how to treat a man, what a man should do, how to navigate the world around her, and so much more! Daddy, though it may be hard at times, one of the most important lessons you will teach your daughter is how a man treats a woman. You will teach her this lesson in the way you treat her mother. Now I know her mother may not always deserve respect, but respect her anyway. She may not always deserve kindness, be kind anyway. Sometimes you might want to shake her, don’t shake her. Your daughter is watching you, and how you treat her mother is how she will let men treat her.
Your daughter needs you to be consistent. My daddy was home every night at the same time. Even when he was preaching in other cities, he was never gone too long. One event that truly stands out in all my memories of him occurred when I was in high school. He was selected to be a juror on a murder case that was set to last for quite some time. My daddy was informed that the jurors would be put up in hotels for several nights, and he flat out refused. My father said he wouldn’t spend that many nights away from his family and he was allowed to come home. I know that times are different and not every father lives in the same house with his child, but this is no excuse for inconsistency. If your job only paid you when they felt like it or if they had nothing better to do, would you accept that? How much more important is the job of raising your daughter? Be consistent. If you only see your child once a week, see your child on the same day and time every week. If you only see your child the first Friday of the month, be there EVERY first Friday of the month. Women thrive in relationships with men they can depend on. Teach her while she’s young that a real man consistently shows up for the girl that he loves.
Your daughter needs you to show her how to be a lady. WHAT?! That is usually the response I get from people when I say this, but it’s true. My mama taught me how to be a woman. My daddy taught me how to be a lady. Those two things are NOT the same. My mama taught me about thinking smart, periods, bras, cleaning house, not taking ish from anyone, etc. But it was my daddy that said, “Cross your ankles when you sit down, Lady. A lady lays her napkin on her lap. A lady always smells good and dresses well.” And not only did he teach me about being a lady, he taught me what a lady should expect from a gentleman. My daddy opened doors for me, brought me flowers, held out his arm for me, and did all those chivalrous things that a gentleman does. There would be far less open legged, thugged-out, poppin’ it for pimp little girls in this world if fathers would take time to date their daughters and teach them to be ladies.
I could go on and on about all the things your daughter needs from you. She needs your encouragement, your trust, your time. She needs you to teach her respect and show her respect so that she’ll always expect respect. She needs your affection because if you are loving on her, she’ll be far less apt to let any old knuckle head get in her pants. But above all, she needs your unconditional love. You are the first man in her life, the navigator that sets the course for all her future relationships. Ask yourself, “Am I the kind of man I would want my daughter to marry?” And if the answer if no, today is as good a day as any to begin again.—Sean Johnson