Marriage enrichment: Dads: giving credit where credit is due

Fathers devoted to their families often are unsung heroes, and their impact on children can be immense

In today’s culture, fathers often are the unsung heroes of our families. We hear a lot about single mothers and their children but very little about the fathers who stay. We don’t read or hear breaking news stories about the guy who comes home from work every day to his family. That may not be news but it has a profound effect on the lives of children.

Since Father’s Day is celebrated in mid-June, I have been thinking a lot about the impact of fathers, particularly about the effect fathers have on their daughters’ lives.

My husband, Ralph, and I have three children—a son and two daughters. Our older daughter, Maddie, recently became engaged to be married. Maddie’s choice for her future spouse made me appreciate, yet again, the wonderful role model she has in her father.

Maddie has always been daddy’s girl. Sometimes I think it is because she resembles him and his side of the family, but then I remember how he bonded with her immediately when she was born.

She was delivered early in the morning and I was sleeping after a long night. My husband had Maddie all to himself for her first few hours in this world. They imprinted on each other. That bond has never broken. Maddie knew that no matter what life brought her way, from crashed cars to home runs, soccer goals or tough questions, her dad had her back.

She knew that her father stood between her and the world. Thanks to that unwavering support, Maddie has become a strong, confident young woman ready to begin her own family.

A daughter’s relationship with her father, good or bad, is far more important than we may realize. It turns out that Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician with more than 20 years of experience counseling girls, agrees. Dr. Meeker is the author of the book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know. In this book, Dr. Meeker shares the 10 secrets every father needs to know in order to strengthen or rebuild bonds with his daughter and shape her life—and his own—for the better.

A daughter needs her father’s attention, protection, courage, and wisdom and it is never too late to become that father.

Dr. Meeker states in her book that one of the best things fathers can do for their daughters is raise their expectations of what is right and just in life. Fathers can do this through modeling what is good and virtuous with everyone they meet. A daughter pays attention to all of her father’s relationships. She is watching how he interacts with his wife, co-workers and strangers alike.

Modeling what is good and virtuous provides a daughter with an image of the type of man she would someday want to marry. This can appear to be a daunting task but fathers don’t need to change their character. They need only to aspire to exhibit the best aspects of that character.

Dr. Meeker has written this guide to help fathers build a better relationship with their daughters. Her book and its companion, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: The 30-Day Challenge, would be wonderful Father’s Day gifts for any father with daughters. These books have the kind of advice that will help encourage a father to become an intentional father who models what is good and virtuous for his daughter.

Happy Father’s Day, Ralph, and to all the fathers in our diocese.

Mrs. Christiana is coordinator of the diocesan Marriage Preparation and Enrichment Office.