A few months ago I heard the most amazing counsel. It comes at a very critical time in the history of humanity. The counsel was given specifically to husbands and fathers regarding their relationships with their their daughter(s). In a general conference address for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in October 2011, Elaine S. Dalton’s thoughts titled “Love Her Mother” considers the difficulties of raising a daughter in today’s ‘toxic’ world.
Dalton believes that the best way to raise a “happy, well-adjusted daughter,” is by following a very simple formula embodied in a quote by Theodore Hesburgh, in “Quotable Quotes,” (Reader’s Digest, Jan. 1963) – “The most important thing a father can do for his [daughter] is to love [her] mother.”
In her address, Dalton expounds on Hesburgh’s thoughts.
“By the way you love her mother, you will teach your daughter about tenderness, loyalty, respect, compassion, and devotion. She will learn from your example what to expect from young men and what qualities to seek in a future spouse. You can show your daughter by the way you love and honor your wife that she should never settle for less. Your example will teach your daughter to value womanhood. You are showing her that she is a daughter of our Heavenly Father, who loves her.”
Recently my friend Cynthia S. informed me that her greatest life’s lessons were learned from her father who has passed on. She misses him dearly every day, but his memory and legacy was planted in her heart from birth and lives on in the way that she lives her life today. I’m not sure what the relationship was like between her parents, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Cynthia’s father showed her how much he loved her and her siblings, by first showing his love for their mother and then by extending that love to include their children.
I’m old. I openly admit that as I consider the differences in the world that I grew up in versus the contrasts I see in today’s world with all of its marvelous ingenuity and advances. We speak of it often as parents – things just aren’t the way they used to be. Some things are good; some things are just plain abhorring.
The ‘abhorring’ part is where I begin to show my age. Young girls have always been interested in their appearance regardless of what Age of Man you were born and raised in. But it seems, to me at least, that young women are taking more drastic measures, wearing more revealing clothing and speaking in more provocative tones than ever. There have always been a few risqué groups through time but I believe with the profusion of information and how that information is exchanged through a variety of mediums including online social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, it seems more and more probable that our young people, young women in particular are more emboldened even brazen with their dress, speech, sexuality and more.
I consider the fact that I don’t have a daughter a blessing and a curse. A blessing because as I’ve stated often before, I would have been in prison by the time any daughter of mine reached puberty because of the drastic measures I would have taken to protect her from the world. A curse because I always dreamed of having a daughter that I could spoil and treat like a little princess. But is my role and responsibility as a leader in my community minimized because I don’t have a daughter? Absolutely not!
You might ask yourself, ‘Well what business does a guy who does not have a daughter have to talk about this stuff?’ Simple answer – I have sons so my responsibility is to make sure that when they are interacting with your daughters, they do so with respect, honor, kindness and a reverence that is accorded a daughter of God. The fact that I don’t have a daughter gives me a larger sense of responsibility to love my wife more because my sons will eventually model the same behavior when they ask you for your daughters’ hand in marriage.
Some people might say, ‘That’s just old-fashioned and your thought process is archaic.’ To those people who might find it peculiar and perhaps even offensive I express my sincere apologies. But this is what I know and believe – that our young people have a right to learn of and about love from the people they trust the most and as a parent I pray that my sons trust me enough to know that young women are precious. Men have an obligation to love, honor and cherish women and by honoring that obligation, women will reciprocate that love.
So if you are a father to a daughter, love their mother and show your daughter what it means to be loved. If you’re a father to a son, do the same and let them learn from you how a man should treat all women.
Yes, I’m old fashioned – but it seems to work for me.