Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Smart dad, smart daughter

I recently did an essay over at Pyro on what many would call "modesty," and others "holy behavior" — but what I might call "dressing lovingly."

This sparked a number of reflections in others, maybe the most memorable being On Dressing Modestly. A (very!) young daughter asks her dad what he thinks of what she's wearing... and he tells her. Oh boy, does he.

Now, we can debate how heavily he comes across in talking to this very young girl.

But, first, I like that she asks her dad what he thinks, rather than just getting away with what she can, and who cares what he thinks? A girl who hardens her will against her father may feel that she is getting away with a lot; God—if Proverbs is to be taken seriously at all—thinks otherwise.

And second, I have to say, I think he got an important point across to her very memorably. What you wear says something. Is this what you're wanting to say?

And she responded wisely, rather than digging her heels in and proceeding with double-dose stubbornness to "show" her dad that he's not the boss of her.

His words may give second thoughts to some dads who have tried to make the same point gently, sensitively, respectfully — and seen it sail past like a bad pitch in the bottom of the ninth.

Maybe sometimes a bucket of icy water in the face, metaphorically speaking, is better fathering than a delicate little droplet in a dainty little glass, a droplet that may evaporate before it is consumed?

8 comments:

Connie said...

You're right, it just doesn't do to "sugar-coat" this message. Our culture certainly doesn't sugar-coat THEIR message--how can we?

DJP said...

Well, you're right, and that's the point, isn't it, Connie?

Though I've said what I thought were very pointed things to my daughter, I don't know if I've been THAT pointed. Against it: his daughter was very young, and this is pretty much of a verbal slap in the face. For it: she's not going to forget it, is she? And when she picks clothes, she's going to think of that, isn't she? There's no ambiguity to it, is there?

I don't know if I've got the (you pick the noun: gall? nerve? something else?) to talk that way. But maybe I should.

Now, it could be countered that this could really harden his daughter's heart and stiffen her resolve. But if a daughter's heart is in the wrong place to begin with, if she's disbelieves God and so is disrespectful, a scoffer, and a fool towards her father, nothing is going to "work." So at least he can get a point lodged into her brain.

One thing for sure about parenting: it ain't easy.

LeeC said...

"One thing for sure about parenting: it ain't easy."

Amen...

My daughters five now, and my wife and I are already agonizing over the best ways to teach modesty, and lady like behaviour. Not that we haven't yet, but now she is getting old enough that the tougher issues arise.

Gotta lean on the Lord because He sure knows we aren't up to it.

April said...

I think this comment and the appropriateness is entirely dependent upon the girl, the father, and their relationship. There are girls that would be crushed by such a statement from their daddy. There are girls who are very still much children at 10. But for some girls it might be necessary and effective. I do think dad's need to be aware that they can wound their daughter quicker than just about anybody on the planet.

DJP said...

April, I think you're exactly right. Some very sweet-spirited girls who love and respect their daddies just need a word; with more, they'd wilt.

With others, a sledge-hammer may begin to make a slight impression.

Connie said...

Most definitely agree that the words, relationship, maturity ALL come into play in this conversation. Our daughters were exposed to a lot of worldly thinking and viewing prior to being adopted, so we have found the "direct" method to be best for them. We talk frequently about modesty, purity, God's plan for intimacy, etc.

The heart issue is the foundation to this and we see it daily--one daughter has been redeemed, one daughter remains unregenerate. It is VERY hard to parent! But we've already seen God soften and mold one very cold and stony heart and pray that He'll do the same for our other daughter.

In the meantime, we hold God's standard before them both and guide them in how to best obey Him.

Libbie said...

My 5 year old picks me up on modesty. She would be utterly mortified to think she was being immodest in her dress or behaviour. My 3 year old will probably need a bit of a stronger word - we celebrate the days when she's still wearing clothes past 10am.

Either way, example from mama and daddy is vitally important, as well as wise words.

Jon Nunley said...

Great post and comments!!!