I had mixed opinions on Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. As a father with a daughter, and growing up without sister, this book had a vast amount of insightful information. I think all dads subconsciously know there’s a lot to protect your daughter from, and I’m pretty sure this book covered all of them.
Almost to a fault, author Meg Meeker overwhelmed the reader with a variety of risks facing girls today. So much so, that it become hard to understand what to focus on. In short, the book advocates to be that stereotypical dad who cleans his shotgun when boys come over, and gets all in his daughter’s business. The risks presented with regards to STD’s, eating disorders, depression and a slew of other issues offer a compelling case to be that dad.
At the same time, a good portion of this book was stories of parenting, and I got the feeling the author was cherry-picking the most egregious examples to drive home points.
I could also tell there was a not so-subtle Judeo-Christian agenda, which was confirmed in the later chapters when the author encourages everyone to practice some form or Christianity or Judaism. She justifies this with statistics illustrating church attending families raise less at-risk kids, but I might question the cause and effect nature of these statistics (i.e. does Church make daughter’s strong, or does the family that spends time together on Sundays seeking deep meaning in life make strong daughters?).
At one point I became pretty annoyed with this agenda during an example where the author details some high school girls going out partying in Mexico, and “shamefully”, one of the girls danced and drank with an older man who was married! Nevermind she didn’t know he was married, or why that’s objectionable behavior to dance with someone.
At the same time, there was a lot of good advice and it was refreshing hearing a book, performed well by Coleen Marlo, that idolized the role of a father. Here are a couple key points I logged:
- There are two types of girls: Princesses and Pioneers. We ultimately want our daughters to be pioneers so that when things get rough, they dig into their own soul to solve problems and don’t look for someone to save them. Sons too for that matter!
- We also don’t want their happiness attached to their appearance, which they’ll already be subconscious of. Thus comments that continually say, “you’re so pretty” may incorrectly give the message that our approval of them is stapled to their looks. I call my daughter “pretty girl” a lot, so I guess I need to cool off on that.
- Have firm rules on what’s okay and not okay. My Pretty Girl Pioneer is pretty strong willed so there will be battles to come. And…
- The fights will come! When they do, remember women like to test men’s resolve by throwing them off balance. Daughters will do the same. This was also discussed extensively in The Way of the Superior Man where women want to see if men really are committed to fulfilling their deepest purpose in life. So while she may slam the door at you grounding her, her respect for you holding to your guns improves.
- Don’t spoil your kids with two much stuff. I personally need to work on this. My son is all about toys and “stuff”.
- Have her back, and don’t throw the, “You should have known better” comment out when things go bad for her. You never want her to regret calling you in times of despair.
- Be present. This one was tough to read about since I’m on the road a lot, but spending time is key. It doesn’t always matter what you’re doing, or even if it’s that much fun. Just being around, talking and listening helps her.
Anyway, as I said, I felt the majority of this book was worthwhile, but definitely found myself at odds with about a third of it. It’s probably a book every father with daughters should read just to arm yourself with events to come.