I noticed that most boys, including myself wanted to be some sort of hero figure while we were growing up. Our heroes fought crime, wore capes and had an awesome gear belt (Batman). Regardless of your actual chosen profession, it turns out that your daughter wants a hero and she has chosen you (Meeker 29). It is your mission if you choose to accept it – but, this is a limited time offer.
Society enjoys heroes – we celebrate them in movies, songs and literature. Entire wars have been fought over women. Many playground fights are fought over women. And women, as it turns out, want to be fought for.
Heroes protect people, they persevere in the face of great adversity, they are loving and faithful and they understand right from wrong, and most importantly act on it (Meeker 29). Your daughter cannot survive without a hero as she needs someone to help her navigate through this dangerous culture called the 21st-century. And if you will not be her hero she will find someone who will, regardless of their qualifications and then all bets are off.
Being a leader and a hero for your daughter might mean walking into embarrassing, uncomfortable or even life-threatening situations to rescue her (Meeker 30). She does not want you to see her as an equal she wants you to be her hero (Meeker 30). However, being her hero is not an easy job and of all the tests you will be required to endure some of your most difficult will be created by her. Many daughters will challenge their father, diving into power struggles, not to see how tough you are but to see how much you really care. She wants to know from you if she’s worth the fight.
I remember far back in the ninth grade a boyfriend and girlfriend who had been together for over a year. There was a conversation where the girlfriend was talking about how her dad was trying to exert some authority over her, and her ninth grade boyfriend threatened to kick her dad’s ass, and amazingly, the dad backed off. Really? A ninth grader threatened to kick an adults ass? How weak are you dude? (Actually how big is the 9th grader?) I’m not saying you go get into a fight with a 14-year-old but if you’re in that situation you likely failed to be her hero many times before and she’s already replaced you.
- Your daughter wants to know what’s right and wrong and how you feel about things (Meeker 34). She knows you’ve been there before and she trusts your opinion (Meeker 34).
- We inherently want authority – it makes us feel good (Meeker 38). While we instinctively fight Authority (and Authority always wins – with an nod to John Mellencamp) we also run to it when there are challenges or problems that we cannot get ourselves out of (Meeker 39). Dads, this is what your daughter wants from you.
- Daughters love to boast about how tough their dads are, not just physically but also how strict and demanding they are (Meeker 41). I think this also explains many girls I dated in college, who were quick to tell me about how strict their fathers were. Although it was an informal study often the ones with more strict fathers determined exactly which base I would get too that night. While sometimes the ones with the strict fathers were trying to break out a bit, the ones with the more liberal fathers. . . well, let me put it this way about how the rest of those nights would go- wheeeee! Now that I’m a dad, I don’t want some kid going “wheeeee,” because I wanted to be the hip, cool, laid back dad.
Another important relationship that your daughter will observe is that between you and your wife. Your daughter does not just want to see you being her hero she wants to see the faithfulness and courage of being your wife’s hero as well (Meeker 46).
One of the things I like to give my students are actions that they can perform consistently that will achieve good results; so here are four of them that you need to do for your daughter.
- Make a plan. Not necessarily a plan for what she will do with her life but expectations of behavior. Write it down, share it with her and enforce it (Meeker 47).
- Have courage under fire. You will be attacked by friends, family members, TV shows and celebrity know-it-alls. Keep your cool, but be firm and consistent, and remember that kindness, strength and perseverance go together (Meeker 47). Heck, you may even be attacked or threatened by a 9th grader – remember, courage is not the absence of fear, it’s doing what must be done despite the fear.
- Be the leader. You have far more life experience than your daughter. Demonstrate that by being firm in your expectations but loving in their application. I remember when we got a new puppy in 2004. The poor thing was just out-of-control and we had to call Bark Busters to help us train her. One thing I remember that the trainers said is that she (the puppy) does not want to be the Alpha, but if we do not assert ourselves as the Alpha she will assume the role and will not know how to handle it. It turns out this works with kids, not just daughters but also sons. If you’re not in charge, they will be.
- Don’t cave-in. Persevere. A hero sees a battle through until the end and they never run away. Stay in the fight and stay engaged. Spend as much time at home as you can and spend quality time with her (Meeker 48).
Remember that you are her first love. Every man that enters her life will be compared to you and every relationship she has with a man will be filtered through her relationship with you (Meeker 49). A good relationship with dad means she will choose boyfriends that treat her well (Meeker 49). If you have a stable marriage you will also do her an enormous favor (Meeker 50).
She wants a hero and you already have the job – will you keep it or let the 9th grader take over?
Meeker, Margaret J. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know. Washington, DC: Regnery Pub., 2006. Print.by