I saw this touching video being shared on facebook a few times recently:
In the video, a little girl’s father tells her to repeat affirming phrases to herself before her first day of school, like “I am strong; I am smart; I am beautiful; I am blessed,” along with “Thank you God for making me the greatest.”
I love seeing messages like these spread around. There is a lot of brokenness in our society when it comes to fatherhood, whether it’s fathers that are emotionally distant or just plain distant, and I can see the negative effects of this on both boys and girls in different ways.
When a girl is growing up, the first experience she has with relating to the opposite gender is via her dad. Her dad is the person that teachers her what it means to be respected and cherished, and I would even venture to say that the majority of a girl’s self-esteem comes from how much affirmation she has received from her father.
When girls grow up without a father, it can be detrimental to their future relationships with men. They miss out on that fundamental understanding of how they ought to be treated by a man. If their father was missing from their life, or present but disrespectful towards them, then a woman will have a hard time judging a good man from a bad one when she enters the world of dating. What’s worse, oftentimes a woman will pick a bad guy because their psychology will make them replay that same old script over and over again, whether it’s Dad leaving or keeping her at arm’s length.
Now, this isn’t to say that a woman who’s father was absent can never recover from that loss, but in most cases she begins her life at a significant disadvantage, and it can take a lot of time to heal from that. I have a friend who left her house for a few months during high school because her father’s disapproval was too suffocating for her. I have other friends who became rebellious to lash out against their strict fathers; another one tried to starve herself when her father criticized her for being fat, when in reality she was thin as a Pringle. My best childhood friend, whose father was always away on fancy business trips and never took an active role in her life dropped out of high school in our senior year and ran away with her boyfriend, got into some shady occult stuff and possibly prostitution. The absence of a father’s love can be absolutely detrimental.
I’m not personally a feminist per say, but I do not like it when I see degrading comments and jokes tossed around about them. Many of these women may have painful experiences that make them believe men are the enemy, and these experiences are important to talk about. The reason I say I am not a feminist is because I believe that men and women need to work together to affirm each other and build each other up. The two sexes both have their own unique perspectives that are vitally important to bring together, because that is when you truly begin to build a healthy society.
And honestly, as you can see in the video, it’s so simple. Fathers, please tell your daughter she is beautiful. Please tell her that she is not better than anybody else – but nobody is better than her. Acknowledge and celebrate her unique identity. Teach her kindness by being kind to her; teach her how to be moral and respectful by respecting her. Little by little, over time, you will her growing up into a strong, compassionate woman who doesn’t need society to tell her what she is because you already told her that.