Today being Valentine’s Day, I’ll be picking up something for the woman and three little girls in my life. I’ve been thinking about my kids a lot lately, especially my oldest who, even though she is only 8, seems so much older to me already. The other day, I read this post over at the Gospel Coalition, and even though written by a mother, the author speaks truth that every father can agree with. It triggered some thoughts of my own.
Ever since it became clear that I am the father of girls (3 straight will give you that indication), people have asked me if I ever wished I had a son. I’ve always thought that a strange question because it seems to imply that I wish I didn’t have one of my girls. Would I trade one of them for son if I had the chance? Which one would I give up? What kind of choice is that?
These are the children with which we have been blessed. These three girls are strange creatures to me. They really are. Even though there are traits in each of them that remind me of myself, they are really not like me at all. They are girls, and theirs is a world I will never completely understand. I can live with it because I find that world so completely fascinating. Besides, some day I will be an old man, and there are far worse things than having four women taking care of you.
See, and I know this is completely selfish, but I am a bit like a super hero in my house. Those children think I can fix any broken toy. They think I know everything about birds and animals and camping and boats. They think I make great voices when I read stories to them. They’re pretty sure I’m not great at fishing, and that would be true.
You know what else? Having daughters makes me a better man. It does. I can’t be my normal bullish self. I have to listen. I have (hopefully) become more patient. Gentleness is a plus when raising girls. Learning to appreciate them as themselves, the way God made them, and not the way I want them to be is a really good thing.
I’ve learned the hard way that grabbing a little girl by her ankles and hanging her upside down is more likely to bring tears than laughs. Singing silly songs is a favorite pastime even if the oldest thinks I’m weird. I have learned to appreciate painted fingernails, though I can’t do the hair thing. Not at all. It ain’t pretty. I know more about American Girl dolls than I care to admit. Our Legos are mostly pink (this is kind of a bummer), and we’ve got more stuffed animals than Noah did real ones.
It humbles and even scares me more than a little that I am the primary example to them of what a Christ-like man looks like. I am supposed to show them what a Christian man is. If there is anything in which I fear failing it is this. Life is difficult enough without me adding to their baggage.
There is no need for them to apologize for being girls. I don’t wish they were something else. I want them to be the maximum of what God wants for them. I want them to grow up to be brave and strong and Christ-like women. I want them to be confident enough to make the tough calls and go it alone if that is what God wants for them. I want them to do what is right and good and kind.
I have concerns too. I look around the landscape and I see so few young men in whom I have confidence. Maybe it’s just my protective side, but I’m serious. Where have all the good men gone?
My girls are young, and they don’t have any interest in boys. That’s good. It gives me time to get to work on the problem. One reason I work in ministry to men in my church is because I know that the next generation of boys will be influenced by my generation of men. Whatever today’s little boys become is what my girls will have to live with.
From the article…
If you considered my daughters as valuable as if they were your own, you would raise different sons. In all likelihood, one day you will have daughters. Raise sons who choose them well.
So, here’s my challenge to myself: by the grace of God, we will raise daughters that are worth the effort, who won’t settle for second best, and who aren’t afraid to follow their Savior wherever He may lead.
My challenge to you: raise sons who deserve them.