Fathers and Daughters: Why Dads Need to be Heroes


Fathers and Daughters: Why Dads Need to be Heroes

Shakespeare’s King Lear is a proud, vain, and foolish old
man. His rash temper and vanity lead to catastrophe: the alienation and
ultimate death of his only truly loving daughter, Cordelia. Rejected by his
remaining two daughters, Lear rails in his madness, "I am a man more
sinned against than sinning." [1]

How many fathers today think the same? The dad whose
daughter gets caught up in drugs and runs away, or the daughter whose boyfriend
talks her into premarital sex and then dumps her. The daughter who goes to
college and loses her faith. How many fathers blame the lethal culture–or
simply blame their rebellious daughters?

Instead, should they blame themselves?

Many good men have been deceived by the culture that they
are ineffective, unnecessary, and even offensive to women if they act masculine
and authoritative. Today men are deemed radically unnecessary: women enjoy high
paying careers, a “Sex and the City” lifestyle, babies through sperm donors,
and spending time with their girlfriends–who are the only ones who really
understand the significance of a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes.  Men are viewed as idiots (Homer Simpson) or
eye candy (Dr. McDreamy).

But this is a lie. Our culture is facing a crisis of
masculinity. Husbands are abdicating their role as protector and provider;  dads are abdicating their role as fathers and
spiritual leaders of their family.

The importance of fathers

Teen pregnancy, depression, sexually transmitted diseases,
eating disorders, school failure, drug and alcohol abuse may all be preventable
with a strong father–daughter relationship. Dr. Meg Meeker, pediatrician and
author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters puts forth a compelling
argument for the need for fathers to step up. She writes: “After more than
twenty years of listening to daughters—and doling out antibiotics,
anti-depressants, and stimulants to girls who have gone without a father’s
love—I know just how important fathers are.” [2]

Research bears this out. Kids who feel connected to their
parents (and whose parents spend more time with them) fare better. In fact,
parent connectedness is the number one factor in preventing girls from engaging
in premarital sex and indulging in drugs and alcohol. Girls who feel connected
with their dads are more self-assured, do better in school, and are less likely
to suffer from low self-esteem, depression and eating disorders. They are also
less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and sexual

The dangers facing young girls today are far greater than
those faced by previous generations. We are experiencing an epidemic of
sexually transmitted diseases. Middle school girls engage in unwanted sex
because their boyfriends expect it. Teen pregnancy, depression, eating
disorders, drug and alcohol use…young girls today face serious?even
life-threatening?issues. [4]

Young girls’ fragile self-esteem

Today, young girls are pressured to engage in sexual
activities; they contend with overt sexuality in the media, increased academic
demands, media hyping thinness, rampant materialism, dual-career or single
parents. All of this adds up to an increase in depression, anxiety, low
self-esteem and other disorders. Low self-esteem is frequently correlated with
risk behaviors such as smoking, drinking, drug use, and sexual activity.

Fathers have a crucial role to play here, too. Dads can help
their daughters achieve a healthy sense of self-esteem. A dad who combines both
affection and clear guidance will be more successful in helping his daughter
become a mature, self-reliant individual who practices self-control and who
maintains her father’s values. Dictatorial dads who are all about rules and
maintaining control–but who do not provide warmth and connectedness–tend to
raise immature, anxious, and sometimes even rebellious daughters. The other
extreme, the dad who is a “best bud,” will not teach his daughter to have
self-control or perseverance, to protect herself, or how to remain true to her

The victim-princess

Meeker writes that there are two types of women: princesses
and pioneers. A princess believes that everyone else is there to serve her and
that she deserves better in life. Princesses expect everything and everyone to
be perfect. She tends to be unhappy, because nothing in life measures up.

Pioneers know that they have to work hard in order to take
charge of their own life and that this will bring them happiness. Pioneers are
pragmatic and strive to solve their own problems. They are humble and
courageous. They do not expect others to create or cause their own happiness.

Dads can help their daughters become self-reliant, confident
and capable of true happiness. Every doting father wants his daughter to be his
“little princess,” but Meeker advises dads to be careful not to over-indulge
her. Meeker writes, “Ask her this simple question: ‘So what can you do about it?’. . . Don’t let your
daughter grow up to be a victim of life.” [5]

Faith is critical

Studies also show many benefits from a young girl’s belief
in God. Religious adolescents are more likely to abstain from sex before
marriage and are less likely to engage in substance abuse. Both premarital sex
and drug use increase the likelihood of future depression—especially for
adolescent girls.[6]

Meeker lists even more benefits to religious participation:
it gives girls psychological maturity, helps them set boundaries and stay out
of trouble, helps them with self-esteem, increases the likelihood of good
grades and protects them from bad influences.[7]
Dads can show their daughters the importance of faith by being men of prayer and
integrity themselves.

“Be the man you want your daughter to marry,” says
Meeker.  Every man is compared to our
father: if we have a good relationship with our dad, we will choose boyfriends
who treat us well. If our dad was cold and unaffectionate, it will be difficult
to form healthy relationships. [8]

Girls need their fathers’ courage, self-confidence,
assertiveness, and empathy. Girls need dads to be heroes. But it is not that
hard, according to Meeker. It is not that hard to be a hero to a young girl,
because her world revolves around her dad and everything he does is amazing to
her. Just a hug, a supportive comment, a smile can do the trick.

A friend of ours is the father of two teenaged girls. He is
a muscular football coach. When young men attempt to call his daughters or to
take them out on dates, he demands that they speak first with him on the
telephone and then he meets every potential date in person. He makes sure they
know just how big and strong he is, and that he will personally break their
necks if they disrespect his daughter. His daughters may roll their eyes, but
you can see they are proud of their dad and even more proud of the fact that he
is willing to protect and defend them. Our friend is a hero to his daughters.

It is not really that hard to be a hero. A hero is warm and
affectionate. He teaches his daughter right and wrong and is a strong leader. A
hero believes in his daughter, supports her when she makes mistakes, loves her
unconditionally. A hero is a man of integrity, courage, and faith.

[1] The Tragedy of King Lear, Act III, scene ii, lines 56,57.
[2] Meg Meeker, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2006.
[3]  Ibid. pp. 23-24.
[4] Ibid. pp. 19-20.
[5] Ibid. pp 129-130.
[6] Denise D. Hallfors, Martha W. Waller, Daniel Bauer, Carol A. Ford, and Carolyn T. Halpern, “Which Comes First in Adolescence–Sex and Drugs or Depression?" by (October 2005 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (Am J Prev Med 2005;29(3):163-170).
[7] Meeker, op. cit., p. 179.
[8] Ibid. p. 49.



  1. Ada-202042 June 2, 2008 Reply

    This article is just what I was looking for. Thank you very much.

  2. Paula-352189 June 30, 2008 Reply

    THis is so true and I love this story. If I had a father that was there who knows the man I would have married. Now I have 2 grown boys and try to be that strong person who has tried to teach them to be respectful toward woman. There father died at 45 and not a role model for them. I pray I did a good job. They have wonderful strong woman in thier lives, one has a son and the child LOVES HIS DAD,when his dad is present he only sees his dad, My son is the Father he never had. Thank you for sharing

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