Our sons and our daughters both need us. But, I must confess that, right or wrong, usually our hearts are a little more tender when it comes to our daughters. Nevertheless, if our kids are given the opportunity, sometimes they will lose their minds.
Part of our coaching role is to bring them back to reality. Our daughters need us to guide them. And she also needs you to walk a very fine line sometimes. Your guidance should be more than simply setting a fine example, but it should not be an endless stream of lectures and diatribes. So what do we do? How do we guide?
We can guide through discernment.
Guiding means discerning what’s right in the midst of all the gray areas in our culture. And there is much that is gray today.
Young women are under a lot of pressure to look, act, and be a certain way—to maintain a certain image. They also face expectations with regard to their future aspirations. And many times those expectations may be at odds with what their hearts are telling them. It is hard to find a positive role model in the media or culture that exemplifies the best of motherhood. And as dads, we can bring an analytical approach to help clarify the picture and guide them along or give them the courage to follow their convictions.
Our daughters need the benefit of our experience and wisdom as they consider options and think through possible consequences of their choices. Discernment involves making wise decisions about life’s choices. It’s about sifting through pop culture, peer opinions, facts, and knowledge, and then judging and examining that information so you can form a coherent conclusion. As dads, it’s our job to model discernment and then equip our daughters to be discerning as they face tough choices and the pressure of our “you can have it all” culture.
We can also guide through correction.
Ultimately, correcting behavior is the goal of discipline. You want your daughter to shift her behavior from something inappropriate or detrimental to something positive and beneficial for her long-term good. Enforcing limits and consequences is important, but we must also communicate why a daughter’s behavior is being corrected. If you do not draw a line between actions and consequences then your child will not have an opportunity to learn to self-correct. I hope you will take a look at Billy Long’s article earlier in the week along this area of discipline and correction.
When you think about discipline issues and how you respond, don’t settle on snap judgments and quick answers. Come up with consequences and experiences that will help shape your child’s character and change her heart. Make those consequences and any punishment that accompanies the consequences to match the disobedient act. Those moments of foolishness and disobedience are really opportunities for your child to learn and grow. Make the most of them.
And remember that you do not have the right to belittle your daughter in the process. You must show her respect, even in her worst moments, and even when she may not exactly be showing you the respect that you deserve. One of you needs to be the adult. And that should be you, Dad!
Does that mean there will be no consequences for how she treats you? Of course it does not. But the battle is lost when you both sink to the lowest common denominator when it comes to emotional outbursts.
So, what can we do this week to practice the principles of discernment and correction?
- Monitor your daughter’s media habits. Be aware of what enters her eyes and ears. We normally think of this when we think of our sons. But watch what she watches on TV or online; check out the movies that she wants to see before she watches them; learn about music artists and their lyrics before she downloads songs or albums.
- Encourage your daughter to be in relationships with older girls and women who are a positive influence on her.
- Make sure you are on the same page as your daughter’s mom. Sit down with her at a time when things are calm, and come up with a plan for situations where your daughter needs some help. That way, you won’t be making things up on the fly the next time something happens in her life.
Closing Thoughts on this 10 Part Series of Things Our Sons and Daughters Need from Us
Some closing thoughts as we conclude this series. Let me speak directly to you who are fathers right now. “Dad, you are THE most influential man in your children’s entire life.” You are modeling for them what it is to be a man. You are demonstrating what it is to be a husband. You will have an impact on the ultimate happiness of your future daughter-in-law by how you have lived as a husband. You will set a benchmark that your daughter will set to reach as she chooses a mate. You are creating an environment that will affect the safety and comfort of your future grandchildren by how you are parenting. If you parent with anger and violence, they will pass that along to their children as well.
But all is not lost. I do not want to discourage you, dad. It is never too late for you to begin to shape a new reality and a new future for your children. In the end, I leave you with some of the best advice that I was given early in my life as a parent. Someone once told me that the best gift I can give to my children is to love their mother and honor her in all that I do. I don’t know about you, but I think that is a great place to start building a new reality for my children and a new future for those that come after me.