A recent article in the Wall Street Journal served as a reminder of something Christians already know: daughters need their dads. The article, written by Melvin Konner, begins this way:
How much do fathers matter to the personal development of their daughters? Scientists studying families have long suspected that domestic instability and insufficient fathering predispose girls to risky sexual behavior, but there was no hard evidence for this view.
As you might have guessed, the article goes on to summarize a body of studies that now solidify the scientific basis for saying what we already know: fathers matter.
Fathers who offer stability in the household and are deeply invested in the lives of their daughters produce girls who are far less likely to demonstrate risky sexual behavior in adolescence and young adulthood.
Homeschool families are not immune to the plight of absentee or disengaged fathers. Though many homeschools give dad the title of “principal”, he is often so disconnected from the overall education and discipleship of his children that he has no idea what curriculum the children are using or how they are progressing. Sadly, I’ve seen too many dads turn over the entire homeschooling enterprise to mom, leaving her on her own to make decisions, face challenges, maintain her own commitment to the vision, and to find the strength to carry on. When children feel that their dad is unconcerned about their education, it gives them less reason to care as well.
Worse, because our homeschooling is deeply connected to our parenting, dads who disengage from the homeschool are often disengaged from parenting as well. Like it or not, dads are the captain of the ship called “home”, and his concern or lack of it will deeply affect each member of crew.
Daughters in particular need to receive from the fathers what we all need from our Heavenly Father: to be cherished, provided for, protected, and led. As this most recent article reminds us, daughters who don’t receive this from their fathers will seek to find it elsewhere, often in unwise relationships.
So dads of daughters, step up. Make sure your daughter knows how much you love her. Be her rock, her security, and her stability even as you point her to the Rock. Don’t disengage from her education, but take an interest – even a leadership role – in what she is learning. Even if you can’t be around during the school day, seize dinner time or bed time to have discussion about what she has been learning and the experiences of her day. Pray with her. Let her slip peacefully into sleep each night knowing that she is safe and secure in the love of her father. This will protect her from many pitfalls.
Dad, your daughter needs you. May God help you to love her well.