Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters – Chapter 1

My reading of Meg Meeker’s Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters is progressing (surprise!) slowly.
Chapter 1 – You are the most important man in her life.
Meg starts this chapter with her observations from 20 years of medical practice, watching daughters & what their relationship with heir fathers does, or doesn’t do, for them. She says “They might take their mothers for granted, but not you.” She talks about what girls will do to try to get their father’s attention (some scary stuff) and how they react to us.

When she’s in your company, your daughter tries harder to excel. When you teach her, she learns more rapidly. When you guide her, she gains confidence. If you fully understood just how profoundly you can influence your daughter’s life, you would be terrified, overwhelmed, or both.

p. 8

Lest you think this is a book of opinions of one woman doctor, Meg Meeker provides 59 footnotes from 30 some distinct sources in this chapter alone. Most of these are statistics about the world your daughter faces. Meg states more than once that the father’s role is to stand between your daughter and a “toxic culture”, a culture that is “yanking the best right out of them”. How toxic? Some statistics:

  • 40.9% of girls 14-17 years old experience unwanted sex, primarily because they fear that their boyfriends will get angry.
  • 35.5% of all high school girls have had sad, hopeless feelings for longer than two weeks. Many physicians call this clinical depression.
  • Within the last year, 74.9% of high school students (male and female) have had one or more drinks each day for several days in a row.
  • Within the last month, 44.6% of high school girls have had one or more drinks per day.
  • Kids spend, on average, 6.5 hours per day with media (TV, computers, DVD, video games, music)
  • 26% of the time, they are using more than one device. This means that 8.5 hours of media exposure per day is packed into 6.5 hours. (This is the equivalent of a full time job.)
pp. 19-22

But she goes on to say that Dads have the power to fight back. Don’t think that we can’t win over the culture. “[Its] influence doesn’t come close to the influence of a father.” Then she proves it with 2 1/2 pages of statistics from research on the effects of a loving, caring father:

  • Six-month-old babies score higher on tests of mental development if their Dads are involved in their lives. (emphasis mine)
  • Girls with good fathers are less likely to flaunt themselves to seek male attention.
  • 76% of teen girls said that fathers influenced their decisions on whether they should become sexually active.
  • Girls who lived with their mothers and fathers (as opposed to mothers only) have significantly fewer growth and developmental delays, and fewer learning disorders, emotional disabilities, and behavior problems.

pp. 23-25

These statistics, and more in the book, prove the title of the chapter. We are the most important man in their lives. It seems obvious on some level. After all, as they are growing, what other men are there? Grandpas, uncles and friends are around, sure, but none has the time with her that we do. Why shouldn’t we be the most important influence?
But the sheer impact created by me over my girls is astounding. I would have thought Mom had more pull. Not according to Meg. And even into the ‘scary years’ of middle and high school (my oldest turns 12 next month) when sex and drugs come crashing in, the culture doesn’t have a chance against a loving Dad.

When you are with her, whether you eat dinner and do homework together or even when you are present but don’t say much, the quality and stability of her life – and, you’ll find, your own – improves immeasurably. …
Your daughter will view this time spent with you vastly differently than you do. Over the years, in erratic burst and in simple ordinary life together, she will absorb your influence. …
Be it good or painful, the hours and years you spend with her – or don’t spend with her – change who she is.

pp. 25-26

Isn’t God great? I mean, even when the tide of society seems against us, if we just determine to be the Dad, to care, to pay attention, we can overcome. So many times I find this at work. Some news story about dangers lurking out there – unsafe cars, tornadoes, stats about teen sex, tragedies and disasters – will get me worked up. But I’m reminded that the reality of the world our God made for us is that its overwhelmingly safe. Everyday, millions of people don’t die in car crashes. Millions more aren’t hurt by a viscous storm. For most tragedies, they only effect a small minority of the population, the odds are in our favor.
So, even though the world is scary for our daughters, overwhelmingly so, because God is good, we can guide them through it becasue he’s made us stronger than the world.

5 thoughts on “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters – Chapter 1

  1. I gotta get that book! The very little I read and what you’ve shared convicts and encourages me to do better for my girls.

  2. Great thoughts. I’m looking forward to the remaining chapters!
    My daughters are grown now. One has graduated from college and is married. The other has one more semester at college. One of the great delights in my life has been time spent with my daughters. As they move on to their adult lives, I will miss them!

  3. Yes, BEG, get the book. there’s a lot more in there.
    Besides, I was feeling a little guilty about sharing chapter by chapter. I don’t want to keep people from buying it!

  4. My dad and a friend worked with Juvenile delinquents. It was difficult for the girls to see that men weren’t suppose to treat them badly and leave them. Daddies need to be around for their girls. Moms play a huge role in their lives but dads seem to set a life time path of how they will let men treat them. I’m thinking of getting the book for my husband. He’s a good daddy for her but knowing why he needs to be might make him even better.

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