So maybe this should have been a two-part post, so feel free taking your time to read it. Hopefully it’s worth it. 🙂
I am currently fascinated with the relationship between fathers and daughters. Maybe it’s because I have an amazing relationship with my dad. Or maybe it’s because I’m brought to tears every time I think about how well Freeman loves Fairley. Or maybe it’s because I’ve had the privilege the past couple of years to be surrounded by men who love their families (and their daughters) well, and it’s so encouraging to see.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve also seen my fair share of father-daughter relationships gone wrong throughout my lifetime, and let me tell you – it’s heartbreaking. It was not the way God intended. Our relationship with our earthly fathers are meant to point us to our relationship with our Heavenly Father, so I just know it breaks his heart to see brokenness in families, especially between parents and children.
Two years from now, I’m sure I will be talking about how obsessed I am with the relationship between a son and a father, and I know Freeman will amaze me with the way he loves our son, J.D. So I figure the thoughts I’m processing right now pertain to fathers and both daughters and sons, but since I’m currently amazed by the specifics between father and daughter, I’ll stick to that for now.
Here are some things I am realizing about this type of relationship (based on its purest form). Let me make the disclaimer that I fully understand that every father-daughter relationship does not look the same and might not fulfill all of these characteristics (and that some of us have even gone through the devastating hurt of losing an earthly father), but it’s my hope and prayer that all father-daughter relationships would fulfill these characteristics because I think it’s the way God intended for these relationships to be (since it mirrors his love for us).
1) Fathers delight in their daughters. Let me tell you – my husband absolutely does this, and it’s just about the most beautiful thing to experience. He loves everything about her. He wants to spend time with her. He wants to get to know her. He wants to protect her. He wants the best for her. He absolutely delights in her.
I don’t think I fully realized the extent of this love until we were talking about the gender of our second child. We were told at the twelve week ultrasound that they thought our baby was a girl. Nothing for sure – just a guess. I know Freeman was excited either way, but I also know he wanted to experience parenting a boy. As we started talking through it, though, God brought something to my mind. I loved everything about watching Freeman parent Fairley. I know he will be an amazing father to a boy, but I also know from experience, that he is an amazing father to a girl, our girl.
I am thrilled to have a boy and experience that side of parenting, but I was also not worried one bit if we had all girls because I knew without a shadow of a doubt that they would, God willing, grow up with a Daddy who doted over them, who loved them, and who helped them feel 100% secure in the love of their father because that’s the kind of father he’s proving to be. Boy or girl, our kids will be loved, but Freeman has shown me that he loves his daughter extremely well.
I also experienced this type of being delighted in firsthand. I can definitely say that my dad did the same for me. He loved me and he showed it, and he still does! One time, recently, I had lost something little. It really wasn’t a big deal, but it was bothering me, and I couldn’t let it go. I wanted to tell someone who could care, and I couldn’t help but thinking my dad was that someone. And that’s because he always showed me, for the last twenty-eight years, that he cares about my life. He cares about the details. It was a beautiful reminder that my Heavenly Father feels the same way. He wants me to talk to him. He wants me to tell him about what’s bothering me. He cares because he delights in me.
2) Delighting in your daughter does not mean giving her everything she wants, but rather, an important aspect of true love is giving her what is BEST for her. So my two examples, both Freeman and my own dad, both did this well.
Last week, Freeman and I had the tough experience of weaning Fairley from her paci. With a new baby on the way, our doctor let us know that it was time. NOW. It wasn’t easy. Everything in me wanted to give that paci back to my daughter as she cried real tears before nap time. Instead, I just sat and held her and cried with her. It was one of the hardest parts of this whole parenting job so far – withholding something she wanted desperately because I knew there was a better plan for her than the one she had for herself. (Granted, I realize this seems like a small thing, but this is the stage we’re in people. Pacis are serious business to a nineteen-month old.) I mean, honestly, I wasn’t worried that she was going to be sixteen years old and still sucking a paci, but I did know that regression to lots of baby behavior would be in her future with a new baby brother on the way if she didn’t get rid of that habit now.
So, after a few sad moments of tears with our sweet girl, I reached out to my hubby for some moral support and for prayer. He gave me both. And in that tough moment, he reminded me that our job is not to give her everything she wants, but rather, to give her what we (with our limited knowledge and wisdom) know is best for her, just like God does for us (in his infinite knowledge and wisdom). Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone you love is to withhold something they want desperately, and I know there have been times in my life where both my earthly father and my God have done this for me, and in the end, I am so grateful for their loving protection over my life.
3) Being a great father to a daughter is an amazing gift because it can set girls up for a future of secure relationships with men. When a little girl grows up with a loving daddy or another positive male role model, she learns the way that women are intended to be treated, and she can look for that type of man in her future spouse. A loving daddy, who is also a loving husband, will show her a great example of a man who is worth giving her heart to. Little girls with loving daddies can grow up secure in their daddy’s love for them, and more importantly, secure in their Heavenly Father’s love for them. When we are secure in our Heavenly Father’s love for us, we don’t find our security or worth in other people, and this is a great foundation for a future marriage because as much as we love our spouses, they do not complete us. They do not provide us with purpose or identity. God does. When we are secure in knowing that, we are free to love other people without putting the weight of finding our approval or our purpose in them. ( I need to mention the disclaimer that our God can redeem lackluster father-daughter relationships and teach girls their worth in him without doing it through a father. He is a good and gracious God with many ways to achieve one purpose. This is just one great way that he can teach us about his unwavering love for us.)
4) The last thing I’m realizing from this relationship is that earthly fathers are still people so even the greatest father will disappoint, but our heavenly father will not. I do believe I have the best dad in the whole world. Hands down. I love him dearly. But there have been times in my life when, because he is a human being like the rest of us, I have been let down. I also know that even with all the best intentions in the world, my sweet hubby will have moments in which he lets our precious baby girl down, too. It’s inevitable. Our sinful nature is a result of the fall. We are sinful people. We are not perfect. But our God is. He is the only one who deserves all of our faith and trust and will not disappoint. In fact, he has already given us his very best (Jesus), so he’s never going to withhold anything good from us. He is good; it’s his character. So everything he does is good. He is worthy to be trusted. So the caution here is not to take something good (earthly fathers) and make them ultimate (because only our Heavenly Father is). God is the greatest good. Our earthly fathers can point us to God and can cause us to thank God for his provision in our life here on earth. They are one of the many blessings God can give, but they are not the ultimate blessing. God himself is.
With this, I also want to mention that some daughters don’t have a great example pointing them to God in their earthly father. Instead, they have the confusion of having to deal with an unloving earthly father who confuses their understanding of what their Heavenly Father truly is. Or maybe, sadly, they have lost their earthly father due to death or other circumstances. Again, a heartbreaking situation. But fortunately, our God is big enough to redeem even these types of hard situations. Since he himself is the ultimate good, he himself is enough to be the best loving father a girl could ever ask for. Granted, I know it’s got to be harder to understand that since the tangible example is lacking, but I know our God is big enough to help reshape the understanding of what a loving father truly is.
Recently, I heard this song by Shane and Shane, and I absolutely love it because it talks about this exact concept – earthly fathers who love their daughters well will want them to understand the great love that Jesus has for them, even more-so than the love they themselves have for their daughters. I know that’s Freeman’s prayer for Fairley, and I pray that becomes the prayers of fathers everywhere. Check out this song, but make sure to have tissues handy. 🙂