Dr. Dobson: Greetings, everyone, and welcome to Family Talk. I'm Dr. James Dobson, and you just heard our guest for today, Dr. David Jeremiah. Yesterday, Dr. Jeremiah shared great wisdom for all fathers raising daughters. There was something there for seasoned fathers and new dads, too. So I strongly encourage you to download the entire program, both halves of this presentation, at DrJamesDobson.org if you missed it. Now, we will start our program today with a bit of a rollback. And then Dr. Jeremiah will discuss the ways the father daughter relationship changes in the various stages of life. And if you're listening in to right now and are already thinking, "It's too late, my daughter is already a teenager," or even a young adult, don't despair. It's never too late to strengthen that crucial relationship. And Dr. Jeremiah will talk more about that, too.
Dr. David Jeremiah is a senior pastor at Shadow Mountain Community Church in California. He's also a creator and host of the Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries. He has written over 30 books and spoken at venues as varied as Cedarville College, the NFL and NBA Chapel Services, and the Billy Graham Training Center. But it's his role as father of two grown daughters that most prepared him for this message today. Here is Dr. David Jeremiah on today's edition of Family Talk.
Dr. Jeremiah: A father has a first responsibility to care for the needs of his family. Fathers are for financial support, but they have other roles as well. Fathers also provide a sense of comfort and security in the family. One woman told me that her first childhood memory was of her father holding her and walking the floor after she had had a bad fall. And she said, "I can still feel his big shoulder and smell the cigars on his clothes. To this day, every time I smell a cigar, I think of my father's comforting love." I hope you have a better way of remembering that then she did. But what she was saying was that her father was a comfort to her in a time of need.
Fathers are also for understanding. And that's a tough one because more often we dads say, especially with regard to our daughters, "I just don't understand her." Perhaps it's because we haven't tried to understand. I admit that a girl isn't easy to figure out. She's a miniature woman. And no man alive would ever dare say that he understood women. Fathers are for comfort, and for security, and for financial wherewithal. But you know something else? Fathers are for fun. And sometimes I think we've forgotten that dad's usually, if there's going to be entertainment and fun in the family, they have to take the responsibility for it. We have gotten so stodgy and stiff in our families that we've forgotten what it's like to have a good time. Having fun is part of dad's responsibility, to make sure that family life is not all just serious business.
Fathers should also be confidence builders. It's very important to understand that one of the things we provide for our families, whether it's to our daughters or to our sons, is the sense of wellbeing. One successful young business woman told me that after her father and mother divorced, she lived with her father from the time she was six until she was 15. And she said her father was so strict, and in his anxiety to be a good father, he tried to mold her into his concept of the perfect little lady. He consistently and constantly criticized her without ever offering any encouragement. And she said, "All I ever wanted to hear from him was, 'I'm really proud of you.'"
She added fuel to her father's disapproval by dating men who were much older than she was. When she was 16, she was going with a guy who was 28. And by the time she was 20, her steady boyfriend was a man of 38, only two years younger than her father. Guess what she was looking for? She was looking for someone to take her father's role of encouragement and love in her life. Not only are fathers confidence builders, but we have to understand too, men, that part of our job is to be role models. That's probably one of the hardest. There's something very conclusive about being a role model. You have to take the whole package as it is. I want you to know that as fathers, we're very important to our daughters. And I think when we see what a good father means to a girl, it will help us to be one, and give us the desire to work at that relationship even more.
I must confess to you, men and women, that I am deeply concerned over the role of the father in our American culture today. The attempts on the part of the media to downgrade his influence, along with the feminist attack on his importance and worth, are the ingredients which are contributing to the weakening of our country. Name one program that you can think of where a father is held in respect instead of ridicule, where he is lifted up in honor instead of put down as a joke. There's a consistent conspiracy throughout our culture to hold a father in disrespect, because those who would destroy what we have as Americans understand that he is the most important ingredient in holding the family structure together. And if he is gone, families dissipate quickly.
Yes, you are important, dads, not just to your sons. You touch the life of your daughter in many ways. And I'd like to suggest to you some of those ways that are very important. First of all, you as a father affect greatly the self-esteem of your daughter. I've had to learn that the hard way through mistakes that I have made. And I'd like to suggest to you that what a young lady thinks about herself is in a great respect a mirror of what she perceives her father to think of her. Men, our girls weigh our words way out of proportion to what they really are. And what we say to them makes the difference.
One of the challenges we face as men, if we're honest, and maybe I should just speak for myself, is that if you have sons, it's hard to keep it in balance. Let me just give you an illustration from my own family. I have two boys, and both of them are very caught up in athletics, and I'm very caught up in athletics. We're kind of sports nuts. And I have a little girl by the name of Jennifer who's a very good athlete, and she loves athletics. But then we have Jan. Jan is just a whole different personality. She is the melancholy in our family. She's an artist, she's a poet, she's a writer. She's creative, she's gifted, she's beautiful. But she's not into sports. Now, what am I supposed to do with that?
I mean, I'm not into poetry. I can't even draw flies. And you know something, men and women, I need to confess to you. For several years as a father, I blew it badly just because I didn't understand how important it was that I go the extra mile to reach into that young lady's life and get excited about what she was excited about. I remember when we went to the Dominican, and Jan was enrolled in school there for her senior year. I wasn't never going to let her go down to that foreign country by herself, so I took her, and it was awful. It was very difficult. And we had never been to the Dominican Republic before, never been in Santa Domingo before, were not prepared for what we were about to find. We landed in the ... at the airport and rented a car, hoping to find our way to Jarabacoa where the school was located, but we had no idea where it was. And we almost didn't get out of the city.
We got lost in the produce section of Santa Domingo where all the big trucks were, and we kept going around and around, and we couldn't get out. And there was a young lady who was also from this church who was already enrolled in that school. And Jan desperately wanted to see her. And there was only a short period of time when she could do that, and the time was getting away from us. And so she was in tears, and I was frustrated, and we couldn't ... we didn't know where we were going. We finally found our way out of the produce section, got on the right road to Jarabacoa, and just as we were making good time, one of the Dominican truck drivers decided that he would turn into our lane and occupy the place where we were. He wiped out our little rental car, just pushed it right off the road, put a huge dent in it.
I assumed the police would come, but the police don't attend accidents in the Dominican. There are too many of them. Every car in the Dominican Republic looks like it has had four or five accidents that very day. Most of them have no bumpers. They have dents in them. And here I was, I didn't know what to do. So the car would run, and we got in the car. She was now frustrated and in tears. Now I'm crying. I don't know what to do. And with tears coming down both of our faces, we drove all the way up into the mountains to that school. It was an intense time. And you know what, when we talk about it now, we crack up. But it wasn't a crack up experience then, let me tell you. It was intense.
When Jan came home from school, I flew to Miami to meet her. There was just something about ... just wanted to be there when she got back into this country. And I took her to school for her first time. I wish I could make up some of the time that I lost when I didn't understand how important the father's relationship is to his daughter. I'm doing better the second time around. But I'd like to share with you, fathers, as you look over your responsibility in your home, don't you buy the myth that dads are for sons, though they are, and moms are for daughters, yes they are. Dads are for daughters, too.
In fact, as you look through the life of a father and his daughter, you go through several stages. It begins with what we call the infancy stage. I saw Coach Wright the other day, and they just had their first child. And I have to tell you this. As soon as I saw him, I knew the baby was here. You know why? He had a little spot right here on his coat. Did you ever ... You notice that? I remember those days. I had almost forgotten that. I said, "Randy, I can tell you're a dad because you've got a little spot right there on your coat." All of our coats had ... you know, where you carry the child. And you know, those days when you have a little girl are special.
I remember taking Jan and Jennifer to the grocery store, and going through the checkout counter, and having this beautiful little girl. And they'd say, "Is that yours?" Like that, like they couldn't believe it, that that child belonged to you. Those are special days. When Jan was little, she had colic from 10 o'clock until two o'clock every night. We really got acquainted in those days. I would come home from work. And usually had a meeting. I'd get home and Donna would say, "Well, it's time for the night shift," and she'd give her to me. And then she'd go in the back room. You know? And so I walked the floor with Jan. We lived in a house in Fort Wayne, and it had kind of a route that went through the living room, into the dining room, into the kitchen, and back out, just kind of a circle. So I did laps at night from 10 until two. We just did laps. I counted the laps. How many laps will it take for her to quit crying tonight? Those are the infancy stages.
Then you go through the childhood stage. And in the childhood stage, what happens is your daughter will idolize you. That's a very important time in her life. In fact, I remember reading about Suzanne Fields who tells when she was five, how she married her dad in a mock ceremony wearing her best party dress and a pink corsage, attended by her mother as matron of honor, and her brother as the rabbi. Field said she started school and her world expanded beyond the house where daddy lived, and then when people would tell the story about how she married her daddy, she would be very embarrassed. But you see, for many little girls, life with father is a dress rehearsal for love and marriage. Feelings are so intense during childhood that most people can't vividly remember vignettes from their early years. But you see, your father is the one you idolize, and he is going to set the stage for the person you end up marrying.
Isn't it interesting, and probably you've observed this, that quite often when a young person is born into a home where perhaps there may be an alcoholic father, have you ever noticed that the daughter in that family will go out and marry a man who has the same tendencies, and before you know it, you're looking at the very same thing repeated over again. Why is that? That is a subtle way of reminding us all as fathers that we're setting the stage for the kind of person our daughter is going to marry. Isn't that an awesome responsibility? Doesn't that seem kind of unfair sometimes? But it's true.
The next stage in the father daughter relationship is what you might call the stage of conflict. Begins along the teenage years. And I'm not trying to grow it into a realization, it's just true. The first conflict at this stage usually starts with appearance. Father's idea of proper stylish attire may be a bit outmoded in his daughter's eyes. Daughter follows the crowd with whatever is in, and poor dad groans and make subtle remarks like, "You're going to school in that? You've got to be kidding?" And his former little girl who idolized him a few months ago now bristles like a porcupine. And authority meets stubbornness, and the winner loses the argument. And most fathers have said more than once, you can't win. From clothes to makeup, to curfew hours and boyfriends, the age of conflict begins with small skirmishes, and it can develop into a full scale war if it isn't halted. And those warm positive feelings of childhood began to slide as a girl discovers the growing world of temptation. So these are the stages you go through. And most of us understand that.
When we look at the influence we have on our daughters and the potential for that influence, it makes you wonder: how have we allowed this to slip by unnoticed? I believe it's been one of the strategies of the enemy of the family to blur the importance of a father's relationship with his daughter. So you say, "Pastor Jeremiah, who does make the best dad? How can you be a good father?" Let me just talk with you for a few moments as we close about who makes the best father. I think some of you girls probably think Daddy Warbucks would be a good example, or Daddy Deep Pockets, however you want to call him.
Daddy Warbucks gave little Annie everything her heart desired. But you know what? There have been some very interesting studies done recently to prove ... In fact, let me just cite one study done by the Ladies' Home Journal in cooperation with the Gallup people. They did a survey a few years ago, and the results showed that "college educated and economically better off fathers, although they could provide their daughters with material and intellectual advantages, spent the least amount of time with them, do the least things for them, and seem the least outwardly loving," end of quote. On the other hand, a woman who compared her husband to her father said, "My father never went to college, and he worked hard to earn a living, and he made time for me and my sister. My husband has it a lot easier, but he spends all his free time at sports. If he could just turn our daughter into an athlete, he'd be glad to spend time with her," end of quote.
Next, the survey showed that the father who was most satisfied with the job he did as a parent is likely to have a good marriage and vice versa. It's a fearsome thing to try to describe the good traits of a father. I stand before the four Jeremiah children in all of my vulnerability. I don't want my kids to think I could ever replace God in their lives. That's a terrible, terrible thing for them to think. And while fathers blunder, we understand that God the father stands firm. He never makes a mistake. He is infallible. He loves unconditionally.
I think sometimes like Thomas Howard - I just read this - Thomas Howard said, "I will write no books or articles on successful fatherhood. At least not until I'm 90 and both my children have turned out to be aging saints, and have raised their own crops and mature saints. Any time before that is too soon." I identify with that. I guess I need to say that in spite of the fact that I feel vulnerable and inadequate, and have admitted to you over and again that a lot of the things I've learned about the family have come through the mistakes I have made, I do pray that God will protect my children in spite of my mistakes, and give me the opportunity to make up for lost time. I want to be the kind of dad who not only provides the steadying hand, but also holds the lifesaving net and encourages my children to grow.
And you know, I'm very sensitive to the fact that as we talk about these very important subjects of the family, that some of you are here and you're thinking, "Pastor Jeremiah, my kids are grown. My daughter's already gone. She's married," or, "She's going to be a senior," or, "She's in college, and what am I to do now?" And I just want to tell you that there's always hope. There's never a time when you should give up hope and refuse to change the direction which has been a part of your life. I remember reading Charlie Shedd, who has a wonderful book on fatherhood, tell about a dad who knocked on his daughter's door one night soon after she'd gone to bed. And when she told him to come in, he sat down on her bed and he made a little speech that went something like this.
He said, "Vicky, I want to apologize. I want you to know, I'm sorry for a silly thing I've done. You're a senior in high school now, and all these years, I've been saying that someday I'd take time for us to get acquainted. So, here you are with nine months left at our house, then you'll be going away to college and getting married. And Lord only knows how far we'll be from each other. So I want to ask you to do me a favor. Once every week in this senior year, I'd like to take you alone for a meal so we can have time to talk together. I know you're busy evenings, and I can't get away for lunch, but maybe we can get up early and go out for breakfast, just the two of us. That's the invitation. Take some time to think it over and let me know how you feel," end of quote.
Well, I don't know what Vicky said, but I have a feeling she said yes. And when I read that for the first time, I did exactly that with my daughter. I started taking Jan out to breakfast, and that's a good thing to do. You can go to very, very exquisite places and it doesn't cost as much. I would recommend breakfast. I mean, you have a hard enough time affording taking your wife out very often. Now you've got two women to take care of. So, your daughter gets breakfast, your wife gets dinner. I think that's fair. Don't you? But we have been to almost every one of the major hotels down by the shore for breakfast. And we've shared some of the most wonderful times that I will remember the rest of my life.
You need to take time. Your daughter needs her dad. There's a song by Steve and Annie Chapman, and it goes like this. "Daddy, you're the man in your little girl's dreams. You are the one she longs to please. And there's a place in her heart that can only be filled by her daddy's love. But if you don't give her the love she desires, she'll try someone else, but they won't satisfy her. And if you're a little girl grows up without daddy's love, she may feel empty. And it's only because it's her daddy's love that she's looking for. Don't send her a way to another man's door. Nobody else can do what you do. She just needs her daddy's love."
Have you given your little girl her daddy's love? If you haven't, will you tell her that you love her? And that she's the most precious girl in the world to you. It's never too late to do that. The time now is to repair those weak threads in the father daughter relationship. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, he says, "If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done." And he was right. So, dad, make a date now with that very important woman in your life, your daughter. No, dads aren't just for sons. Dads are for daughters, too.
Dr. Dobson: I said at the top of the program today that ... Dr. David Jeremiah said it there at the end, but it bears repeating. Fathers, it's never too late to do something to heal a relationship between you and your daughter if it has been strained. Your love is one of the most powerful influences on her life. So let her know how amazing you think she is. If you're not sure where to start, we have some resources that could help. Our announcer Roger Marsh will tell you about those in a minute.
And to you fathers who've started well, I urge you not to quit. The teen years can be awkward and difficult. And in her young adult years, your daughter may appear not to need you at all. But stay plugged in. No matter what she may say, she needs you now more than ever. Never forget that you are shaping the next generation of women when you do what God has given you to do. It's a long road and an awesome responsibility, but the Lord gave it to you because you can handle it. And Family Talk is here to help. Here's Roger, to tell you more about the resources that we have available to you.
Roger Marsh: Well thanks, Doctor. We have a few helpful materials available for you that will complement today's broadcast. First and foremost, I encourage you to request a copy of Dr. Dobson's classic book called Bringing Up Girls. This is a great book for dads desiring to raise a strong, confident, and godly young woman. Also, if you've been encouraged by this two-part program, be sure to order the entire presentation on CD to enjoy later. Both of these resources and much more can be found on today's broadcast page at DrJamesDobson.org. That's D-R, James Dobson, dot O-R-G.
Be sure to join us again tomorrow as Family Talk revisits Dr. Dobson's heartwarming conversation with Dr. Tim Clinton. They will reflect on the influence of their own fathers, and they'll share how they have each strived to be godly dads themselves. That's all coming your way on the next edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. Have a blessed day, everyone.
Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.
Dr. Clinton: Hi, this is Dr. Tim Clinton for the James Dobson Family Institute. Are you leaving a lasting and godly legacy? When you think about your family after you're gone, are you worried about them, or are you confident they'll hold on to what you've taught them? At the Dobson Family Institute, we're committed to helping you understand the importance of passing on your faith, not only to your children, but to your children's children, too. Check out DrJamesDobson.org today for helpful hints, tips, and advice to help make this happen. Remember this: your legacy matters. Don't waste it.