There is nothing I wouldn’t have done to protect my daughter when she was little. And, there isn’t much I wouldn’t do today to protect her if it were within my power. And don’t even think about hurting my granddaughter!
We usually think of the act of guarding or protection as defending our daughters’ physical safety. And that is extremely important. But there are also emotional, moral, and spiritual dangers out there that we as fathers need to protect our daughters from. The cool thing is that if we are doing our job right, our daughters will have a sense of security even when we aren’t physically there to protect them. Because the truth of the matter is, some day we won’t be there. She will be hundreds of miles away at college or maybe just down the street at a friends’ house.
So how do we accomplish that?
First, be aware and guard against the many forces of evil that can threaten or prey upon her. There are truly evil and depraved people out there who would try to lure our daughters into a physically hostile environment, a destructive lifestyle, or drive a wedge between her and the rest of her loving family through an appeal to her at a level that she may not be mature enough to understand.
The tragedy of life sometimes is that our daughters often bear the scars and lifelong burdens and consequences of bad decisions. It is our job to guide them in such a way that they recognize the dangers and avoid them, or, to protect them when they do not even see the danger.
This leads me to my second point. Prepare her to handle dangerous situations. It is not our job to scare them, but it is our job to prepare them. We will not always be there. So teaching our daughters certain life skills is another way of protecting them.
At whatever age you deem it to be appropriate, begin to talk through scenarios and help them think through some potentially appropriate responses. They need to know how to dial 9-1-1 and they need to know what to do if they are approached by someone that they think may be intent on doing them harm.
These are tough things to think about. I know that. Have some conversations that begin with, “What would you do if a boy tried to coax you into his car and go somewhere with him?” Or, some other open ended questions that will spark some dialog. The bottom line is that we need to help them develop a strong and forceful way to say “No!” and mean it when faced with a potentially life-altering situation.
So what can we do this week? What are some simple and yet concrete examples of what to do to demonstrate to our daughters that we are there to protect them?
Does your daughter trust you to protect her? In other words, have you demonstrated up to this point in her life that you really have her best interests at heart? If not, you can build that kind of trust relationship during everyday interactions.
- Hold her hand as she crosses the street.
- Make sure she buckles up when she gets in the car with you.
- Give her a curfew. (She may not like it. But, at a deeper level she will know that you love her enough to set boundaries)
- Warn her about drugs and alcohol.
- Talk to her about the dangers of sexual activity before she is physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually ready for it.
- Offer to let her take Tae Kwon Do as well as ballet or drill team. Better yet, introduce her to Krav Maga (go look it up!)
And when something little happens, hold her tight and whisper in her ear that you are there and that she is safe and OK now that she is in your arms.
Daughters are not just sons with bows in their hair. They are fundamentally different creatures than sons. They are not better or worse. They are not weaker or stronger. They are just different. I was blessed to have both a son and a daughter. And if you have been blessed with a daughter, I hope that as a father you will sense the importance of your role as her protector. Maybe not so much because she needs it as much as because you need to do it!