Fathers, Be Good To Your Daughters

“Fathers, be good to your daughters. Daughters will love like you do.”

– John Mayer

I think there is some powerful truth in that song. If you talk with a group of women about their fathers, tears will often flow. Some women remember their childhood with a much-loved and caring dad, but some grieve for the relationship they never had. Do men realize the huge impact they have in their daughter’s journey? A father’s influence in his daughter’s life shapes her self-esteem, confidence and opinions of men. Daughters will see what their dads believe about women by how they value and respect women, or how they fail to do so. If we want young girls to have a positive example of how to deal with the world, we need dads to live with integrity and honesty, to avoid hypocrisy, and to admit their own shortcomings.

On my Dad’s 25th birthday, I was born. I often heard him say during my growing-up years that I was the best birthday present he ever received. Even now, each year, when July 17th rolls around, we look forward to celebrating together. We often share a cake or some other delectable dessert. One year while growing up in Tulsa, my mom made us a cake in a 9x13 pan. There was a line drawn down the middle with frosting. On his side, it was sprinkled with pecans. On my side, it had pink flowers. That cake has often been a symbol for me of the day we share. My Dad didn’t need the attention or to be in the spotlight. He was content cheering on me, my sister and my mom from the sidelines. I count my relationship with my Dad as one of the greatest blessings in my life.

Some of my favorite qualities about my Dad include his gentle words, his strong presence, his quiet way of leading, his generous spirit, his optimistic outlook, and his humility while serving the unlovable in the world. A couple months ago, I had the privilege of traveling back to Russia with him. While spending time with staff, translators and orphans there, I was again reminded of these great strengths the Lord has given him.

Katya is an orphan my Dad has known for several years in Russia. In many ways he’s been the only father she’s ever known. Katya grew up in the Galich orphanage. She is now 28 years old and married. Katya is trying to create a new story in her life, a story of home and safety and knowing her place in the world. Katya and her husband have been trying to have a baby for a few years. The week that we arrived in Russia, she miscarried and had a surgery that will make it difficult for her to ever conceive again. Katya’s husband asked us if we would visit her in the hospital. I will never forget this old building called a ”hospital” in Russia. When we greeted Katya, she threw her arms around my Dad and sobbed. I sat there in uncomfortable silence for what felt like a very long time. Through the tears and the translator, Katya explained how she lost the baby she had hoped for. She sobbed again while telling us it was unlikely she would naturally conceive again.

What loss. This beautiful young woman, who had already lost her biological family, was now experiencing loss again. I had nothing to say. My biological family has been here for me each day of my life. I have four beautiful, healthy children waiting to run into my arms at home. What could I possibly offer? How could I encourage Katya to begin life again?  

It wasn’t until later, when questioning God, that I realized He was there for her. Her father had not been. That father had not been good to his daughter. But God was there. He saw Katya, He heard Katya, and He knew what Katya needed in that moment. She needed my Dad. She needed someone who was a father figure in her life to cry on, to hold her hand and to tell her it was going to be okay. I didn’t need my Dad in that moment, but Katya did. And sometimes the gift of another person is the best gift you can give, even when it comes with no words at all.

Genesis 16:13

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”