Dear parents of daughters,
Of all things, it happened again at church. There we were, talking about parenting in this tough and mixed-up world, and there it came.
I used to laugh along with everyone else when “it” came up. I don’t think it’s funny any more. The “it” to which I refer is the stereotype of the menacing father sitting on the front porch, shotgun across his lap, interrogating the fellow who’s come to call. On his daughter.
There is a part of me that, yes, loves this image. As a daughter, I love the picture of a father who’s protective. Watchful. Big. Strong. All of that appeals to me, and I understand why it appeals to you. You love that girl with every fiber you’ve got, and you want to protect her from all harm. You want to ensure a secure future. And you should! But, dear parents of daughters…
If you follow me here on the blog, you know that we have four sons. In God’s sovereignty, He entrusted us with four young men to love, guide, raise and train. He gave us no daughters. And in that, I have a great deal of peace and truly a whole lot of happiness, for I sure do love my life with boys that run, chase, pound, tumble, wrestle, burp, fart, sweat, jump from trees, and eat stuff. Like, lots of stuff. No, really. Like anything that’s not nailed down and can’t crawl away.
I love it.
In fact, I rather think that I love my life, love my boys every single bit as much as you love your girls and want what’s best for them.
Now, in that, I was thinkin’ on this whole thing, this picture that’s portrayed and seldom ever questioned of a stern daddy interrogatin’ the boy and puttin’ him on the rack, askin’ questions. And I landed here: just as it is a-okay and justified for you to question and inspect and check and double-check, or to vet my son (as it’s called in political circles), may I have that same right and privilege? May I inspect and check and vet your daughter? The one who wants to date my son?
What I’ve learned in 29 years of marriage is this: It. Takes. Two. People. To make a marriage work. Not one, but two, and if you love and follow Friend Jesus, you really know that it actually takes three. You, your spouse, and Him. Oh, my.
I sat down this morning, and I drew up a list of things that I am wantin’ my sons to be. For your daughters. And conversely, I drew a list right up in my head of what I’m wantin’ your daughters to be. For my sons.
I was thinkin’ on the shotgun in that picture, and I know (and hear me now) and understand part of what that gun is for. Parents are very concerned that a young man not take sexual advantage of their sweet girl’s body. And that is right and godly and appropriate.
What’s wrong with that picture, though, is the assumption, and yes, the church has done this, too, that all young men (really, all men of all ages) are after “one thing.” We always use those code words, when what we really mean is that they only want to have sex. With anything that moves and is a female.
What an insult. When my husband and I saw the folly of this thinking, we changed it up, and we quit puttin’ that on our sons. And I’ve had to quit puttin’ that wicked assumption (read, ‘judgment’) on my husband.
It is not inevitable that my sons will lust. No more than it is inevitable that your daughter will be promiscuous. Which is why we want our sons to have such a high estimation of all women (your girl included) that they see people and souls before bodies.
So, yes. You may ask that my son be pure and love your daughter’s heart and mind and soul plus her body. And I will ask that your daughter be pure. I will ask your daughter about her security and where her identity is based, for if it’s based on her outward appearance and the shape of her body, I can tell you it will bring hurt into their marriage.
I want my sons to be pure. I want your daughters to be secure. They should be able to meet my sons’ need for emotional connection through sex, and my sons should be utterly devoted to your daughters, willing, too, to meet their needs, cherishing them and loving.
You may check my sons on their leadership skills. You absolutely should expect that they are strong leaders, able to make wise and godly decisions. Great in wisdom, humble in spirit with teachable hearts, and servants above all of that. Yes, you may.
But I will check your daughter to see how she follows. For as a man can sin by being a dictator, a woman can sin the same way. By controlling. In God’s beautifully ordained structure for families, the man leads with tenderness, the woman follows, and that’s teamwork. There’s nothing oppressive, but, rather, freeing about this. If my son leads, will your daughter follow?
You will want to know if my sons can provide. That is a wonderful question! It’s so important. But I’d like to know if your daughters are self-controlled. If they’re irresponsible with money or medicate with spending, it will bring so much trouble into their marriage. It’s a fair question.
I want my sons to be strong in their faith. To respect your daughters as co-heirs and equals. But I want your daughters to be faith-full as well. To respect my sons, to encourage and not emasculate. To appreciate their God-given drives. Just as my sons treasure and guard your girls’ emotions and feelings.
We’re on the same team, you with daughters, us with sons. Our goals are not actually opposing. We’re doing our best to raise men to be great husbands, and I know you’re doing your best, too, with those daughters.
I bless you today, and I pray for your wisdom. For someday, we’ll meet at an altar. We’ll gather around two that God’s brought together, and we’ll release them to each other and to Him.
For Him, for His Kingdom, and for the next generation,