February 10, 2009

A Valentines Mission For Fathers

Dear Fathers,
As another Valentines Day looms closer we as fathers should be determined to show the other lady or ladies in our life that we love them. Traditionally we display affection for our wives, girlfriends, mothers, grandmother, etc but what of the other important ladies in our life, our daughters. Daughters, a reflection of us and their mothers, she is just as special as her mother in our life. Valentines Day is noteworthy to expressing love that words in card, candy, jewelry or flowers cannot truly express. We expect our daughters (natural born, step or adopted) to know that we love them, but just like adult women we have to “show” young ladies that we do love them along with telling them. If you truly love your daughters back up your words with action.
Foundations of Love
Girls love their daddies, the love that is shared is a foundation for future relationships that will either blossom into healthy and stable interaction between boys and girls or become unhealthy and chaotic. A father’s relationship with their daughter is built on trust and communication (verbal and nonverbal), a trust that daddy will be there to provide, to shelter, to comfort and be strong in sickness and health. Just as there are wedding vows there are vows for fathers and daughters unspoken, but emotionally far reaching. Fathers are not aware of the impact they have on their daughter’s future emotional, psychological and relational development. The foundations of their relationship can be developed from open and honest communication. No lies, no deceit, no cover-ups, just open and honest truth about your love and your expectations for what you should be doing to provide for your girl(s). History will judge you as a father by the behavior of your daughter and son and what their choices are in life. Most girls choose someone like their father for a potential mate, so what kind of father are you going to be? We are our daughters’ role model for life…Experts agree that a girl's future relationships with men are often shaped by both her relationship with her father and her father's relationships with the daughters mother. In simple, broad-brush terms, girls who are treated disrespectfully and/or see their mothers being treated disrespectfully sometimes come to tolerate that kind of treatment from future boyfriends, husbands, even male colleagues (Raise Your Daughter Right)
Trips of the Heart
Create an opportunity when father and daughter go out together even after Valentines Day. Go to the park, to get ice cream, go to the beach, go to church, just go for walks just to talk. Don’t expect your daughter to develop a relationship with you, as a father you have to develop what type of relationship you want established. This is not always natural and sometimes takes work, but it is well worth the effort. Go on a date with your daughter and show her how a “gentleman” treats a lady with patience, respect and kindness. There will be times when your daughter is older she will reflect and retake these “Trips of the Heart” that remind her of you. The Bible gives us the key to raising our children in Proverbs 22:6. "Train a child in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not turn from it." What way do you want your child to go and who do you want her to go with? Teach her now that she deserves respect, teach her now to be confident, teach her now to be independent and self reliant. Prepare her now for success in family and career decisions. Your daughter will take Trips of the Heart and remember what daddy taught her as to how she should be treated and loved.
Admit when you make a mistake
No one is perfect, so in your daughters eyes do not try to paint a picture of something that you are not. Your daughter will see right through deceptions and it may distort her image of you. Real men do admit when they make mistakes, but they also correct them. This proves that you are human with frailties and imperfections like other men. Trying to set yourself up as perfect a “superman” will cause you and other men in your daughters’ life to set themselves up for failure. Allow her to make this determination about her father. Do not be afraid to apologize to a child if you feel you were too hard on them or wrong in some way. This builds a respect that transcends years in a father and daughter relationship. Forget your pride--your child will respect and love you.
Individual responsibility
Fathers be responsible for your actions and take responsibility to help raise your daughter and son. If you are in the home or not you helped create that child, if you are a step parent you have an added responsibility to show that non-biological men can be good fathers with patience and prayer, it is not easy, but you fill a void, a need that transcends biology. Surrogate fathers and step fathers do serve a valuable role, you still are viewed as a “father figure” so that young lady may not say it, but she needs to know you are there today, tomorrow and the next day. There will come a time when she will need your help in her life and will call on the “father” that she knows.
Diversity Not Just Black and White
So many of our families have diverse backgrounds that it is not uncommon today to have Christian and Muslim families, Hispanic and Haitian, Mexican and Hispanic, Irish and Jamaican, Native American and Black, Jewish and non-Jewish, African American and other ethnic backgrounds either married or living in the same household. Each family growing as one and working to make a “blended family” united. Dads are like the threads to this multicultural tapestry. Keeping the family connected even with cultural or religious challenges. Respecting ones differences and loving their individuality. The 20th century has opened up the mixing of cultures, heritages and races. It has transcended to the 21st century and here to stay. Creating a true rainbow coalition of humanity under one family unit. Love transcends all, so the love in a family will guideand build the respect, patience and understanding that is needed to make a diverse family strong. The father is the corner stone, the foundation of this love, the rock that weathers the storms of life.
Educational Needs
Teach your daughter that they are smart, intelligent and creative. Just because they are female does not mean they cannot be successful. Success is not always making big sums of money, driving fancy cars or wearing expensive clothes. Success can also mean obtaining a good education to provide for self; not depending on a man to do for them, but being able to do for their own even in marriage. Education is the key to a woman’s continued self growth and reliability on their skills and not some “man” to take care of them. The Bible says in Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." Guard your daughters away from negativity and ignorance and guided them to knowledge and understanding. Malcolm X stated as it applies to the 21st century, “"Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today." Our daughters will not stay children forever so we must help prepare them for the boardrooms, courtrooms, classrooms, conference rooms, presidential rooms, mayoral rooms, senatorial rooms and surgical rooms. In these turbulent times as stated by Bob Wise, President of the Alliance for Excellent Education, “The best economic stimulus package is a diploma”.
Prepare for the teenage years now
Fathers if you have not done so, now prepare for the teen years. Be ready fathers to talk about drugs, sex, relationships, good touch and bad touch, kissing, holding hands, hugging and being respected. Teach your daughter about peer pressure with alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs. Building a strong foundation now will lessen the rebellion and strive many parents experience during these years. Empower yourself with knowledge so that you will not be reactive, but proactive. Model Biblical PrinciplesDon’t wait until you are sick or in challenging times to teach your daughter aboutthe power of prayer, praise, worship and attending church. There should be a foundation of spirituality that they have for worship and prayer. Modeling means attending church not just for the sake of show, but for the development of peace of mind and spirit. Whatever religion you practice, read biblical scripture to your daughters to show that men can and do believe in the importance of biblical order and procedure. Reading at an early age develops early communication skills, cognitive processing and creative thought. This applies to the boys in the family also teaching them early that it is ok to read scripture and engage in prayer. Not to allow others to determine their destinies.
There are many challenges and distractions in parental relationships. Fathers must be more diligent to keep the lines of communication open between themselves and their children. Daughters need, require and demand a close relationship with their fathers, but in some cases do not know how to ask for it. Culturally girls are vulnerable in many ways that boys are not, and are in need of more protection and guidance. They are inundated with television and magazine ads about “how” they are supposed to look, feel, act, interact with others, and seek to be older, but not emotionally ready to accept this behavior. Fathers your job is to show your child that she is great just the way she is. Our relationship with our daughters is to protect them emotionally, physically and psychologically. Make this and every other Valentines Day and all days to come a new day for a better relationship.

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