On Friday I discussed the sexual and spiritual wasteland where so many of our kids have ended up. And they don't even know how they got there or how to get out. Today I want to talk about how parents—and especially dads—can combat that culture.
The truth is, contrary to what the media tells you, dads do matter.
As Dr. Meg Meeker puts it in her new book, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, "Most of you out there are good men . . . but you are good men who have been derided by a culture that does not care for you, that . . . has ridiculed your authority, denied your importance, and tried to fill you with confusion about your role. But I can tell you that fathers change lives, as my father changed mine."
Well, Meeker is right.
Obviously dads are crucial to both their sons and their daughters, but Meeker focuses on daughters here. Like the journalist Laura Sessions Stepp, whom I mentioned on Friday, Meeker has seen a lot of girls stranded in the sexual wasteland. In her medical practice, Meeker has treated far too many of these young girls for sexually transmitted diseases, depression, eating disorders, and underage pregnancy.
And time and again, this doctor has found that the girls involved in damaging behaviors are the girls who don't feel loved and valued by their fathers.
Fathers can ensure that their daughters grow up with healthy ideas about sexuality, Meeker writes. "If you as a father saw what I see every week in my medical practice, you would know what to do and you would succeed."
You don't have to be an expert on STDs, or anything else, to guide your daughter away from this wasteland. You just have to do your job as a dad. Talk to her, even when she doesn't seem to be listening. Teach her about the God who loves her and made her. Set boundaries for her. Spend time with her. Listen to her. Maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal to us, but you wouldn't believe the difference it makes to them.
One 16-year-old girl told Meeker that, when on the verge of sleeping with her boyfriend, she saw a ring on her hand that her father had given her, and that alone caused her to stop.
And a father's influence has that kind of power, not just when it comes to sexual values, but in all areas of life. One young woman in the book started taking drugs and ran away at 16. It was only her father's patient, persistent reaching out to her that finally brought her back home and turned her life around.
Hang in there and keep doing your job, Meeker urges fathers, even when your lot seems thankless. And in this culture, where dads are ignored, mocked, and even told they're not needed, a dad's role is bound to seem thankless sometimes.
But for our families' sakes, we can't let that deter us. Plug your ears against the culture and remember this: You matter.
Your children may not tell you that now, but their lives will always be a reflection of your love and commitment. You can take that to the bank.
From BreakPoint®, June 18, 2007, Copyright 2007, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries