Daddies and Daughters are on my mind today. There’s a reason for that. It’s because this is Howie’s birthday, and Howie is the daddy of all of my granddaughters. Three granddaughters–Reese, 6; Avery, 4; and Olivia, 1–outnumbered in our family by their five boy cousins but adored by all of us. I’m thinking today of how important their daddy is to them now and how important he is in shaping their future. I know that mothers give so much to their children. I know how important a loving dad is to every boy, but today I’m thinking about daddies and daughters.
Howie is like most dads you know. He would do anything for his girls. He would risk anything, drop everything, climb the highest mountain, cross the widest sea. But who needs that? What is it our girls really need from their daddy? What should daddies be sure they give their daughters?
I’ve known lots of good dads. I had a good dad. Our son Phil is an amazing boy dad. My husband Larry has been a wonderful dad to Phil and his sisters. I’ve watched these good dads, because I believe dads make such a difference in the lives of their children. There are a few things I see that girls in particular really need from their fathers.
Daughters need love. Moms know. Our babies don’t survive without the love of a mom. In most cases, little ones are physically connected and dependent on their mothers in a way that can make a dad feel left out. But the steadfast love of a dad fills a need in a little girl. Recently our first-grade Reese showed me a paper she wrote about her family. She named every member of the family, including Moose, the blind dachshund who the girls consider their actual “brother”. Then she wrote, “It makes me sad when my daddy goes on a trip.” My heart sank. Her daddy does travel for business. Quite a bit. We don’t want her to be sad. But no worries! Her next sentence was, “But I know my daddy will always, always come back because he loves me very, very, very much.” That’s the love little girls need. Unquestionable, unconditional love. That’s the love that opens a girl’s heart to the love of her Heavenly Father. She doesn’t have to see him to know she is loved by him.
Daughters need security. My dad, Buck, was a small man. He was not an educated man or a wealthy man, but he was a great man. A member of the Greatest Generation, a WWII POW, a faithful husband and father, a follower of Jesus. A great man. As a small child, I thought my dad could do anything. There was no problem he couldn’t fix. There was no danger he couldn’t conquer. He would keep me safe, no matter what. I didn’t know he was small or uneducated or not rich. He was my daddy. I was safe with him. What a gift for a little girl! The feeling that there is always, always a safe, secure place to hide. I grew up. My dad grew smaller. The time came when it was my turn to take care of him. When my dad was 90, in the last year of his life, he lived in a facility where I would visit, sometimes at night. If I were driving after dark, of course he had to walk me to my car. He had to keep me safe. My dad was frail, smaller than me by this time, and the truth was there was nothing he could do to protect me. The truth was I had to drive to a corner of the parking lot and secretly watch to be sure he made it back inside. But the truth also was that I did feel safer with that little old man by my side. My dad taught me to trust. Through him, I learned that the name of my Heavenly Father is “like a strong tower”. I can run into it and be safe.
Daughters need strength. When our daughter Allyson was 37, we realized that the ovarian cancer she had battled would soon take her life. Her dad and I were devastated that we would be left behind and one of our children would go to Heaven before us. There were frightening circumstances, but we did not have time for fear. One day, while we visited in Allyson’s home, I heard Larry talking with Allyson in the next room. The two of them sat at her kitchen table and he told her what he believed Heaven would be like for her. He didn’t seem like the heartbroken Larry I knew he was. He seemed like he was a dad getting his girl ready for a trip. It was as if he were saying to her, “You’ve got this! You are ready! And Mom and I will be there in just a little bit.” Before long I heard their laughter coming from the kitchen. Of course, she was ready! Her dad was showing her the way. Months later, when Larry and I held her as she went to her true home, Allyson was stronger than she had ever been. Today, her headstone declares the truth from her life verse, Psalm 73:26, The Lord, her Heavenly Father, is the strength of her heart. Just as her daddy modeled for her.
Daughters need to be delighted in. Our three granddaughters can be reserved, somewhat timid little girls. Like many children, they may not be so timid with people they know well. But I can tell you who they are never, ever reserved with. Their daddy. Howie delights in those girls. They are wild with him. He is wild about them. They dance and jump and use silly voices. It doesn’t matter how they sound. It doesn’t matter how they look. No matter how crazy their hair, how scraggly their snaggled teeth, how bruised their toddler faces, they are beautiful to him and they know it. There may come a time when the world will tell them they are not pretty enough or fun enough or smart enough. That will sting, but there will be something deep within those three girls that reminds them they are delightful. They will know that their daddy loves them, enjoys them, and in fact he delights in them. Knowing that their daddy delights in them will open their hearts to know this about their Heavenly Father. “The Lord your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will be quiet in his love. He will delight in you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17, CSB)
Daddies, God has entrusted you with the amazing privilege and responsibility of showing your girls what it means to be loved by their Heavenly Father. I’m thankful for every dad who is faithfully fulfilling that responsibility. Today, I’m especially thankful for Howie Rogers. And, yes, that’s him with little Livi in the picture above. Isn’t she delightful?