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Protect Her, Defend Her

strong-fathers-strong-daughters-150The Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters Group Blogging Project continues.

Chapter 5 – Protect Her, Defend Her (and use a shotgun if necessary) – is brought to you by Tony Sheng. I’ve been tracking with Tony for years as he mobilizes the next generation in global missions. Tony is awesome.

“Why don’t we have a school dance in this middle school?”

“Because we did a few years ago and found 8th grade girls in the bathroom giving head to 8th grade boys.”

If you think this is vulgar, it’s okay to be offended and never read my blog again. On the other hand, if you think I made this up, I wish you were sadly mistaken. As part of a blog tour on the book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, I’m posting about Chapter 5 today. It’s probably the most sobering and the most frightening in the book because Dr. Meeker explains the very toxic culture that our daughters live in and then she outlines whose responsibility it is to protect them – you, their father. Here are some quotes that should awaken your masculine soul:

The most aggressive campaign against your daughter’s emotional and physical health is directed at her sexuality. She relies on your defense against that campaign.

10,000 kids a day get an STD.
Nearly one in four sexually active teens is living with an STD at this moment.
If present levels of sexual activity among kids continue, by the year 2025 (fewer than twenty years from now),39 percent of all men and 49 percent of all women will test positive for genital herpes.

Popular culture trains our daughters for a life of promiscuity.

Yikes. She goes on.

If you as a father saw what I see every week in my medical practice, you would know what to do. And you’d succeed.

And the best news is: you are far more effective protector of your daughter than any condom, any sex-ed teacher, any school nurse and any doctor. That’s what kids tell us every day. They want to hear from their parents. They want their parents to tell them what’s right, what’s wrong, and what they should do… You need to stay in the fight for her innocence and her mental and physical health. It’s a fight you can – and that you must – win.

I’m in this fight every day as the father of two girls 8 and 11. But it’s not a fight just about innocence – I believe that my kids can be islands of light in this toxic culture that so desperately works to undermine their purity. I believe that they can be relevant to the culture and, in fact, redeem parts of it so that others can see and ask about why they are different. Perhaps growing agents of redemption requires a fine balance between protecting them and unleashing them.

Here are a few things I’ve done. Granted, I don’t know if they are working.
:: I’ve said no to:
+ my wife and mother in law wanting to fly into Las Vegas for family vacation. [I’m still hearing about how ridiculous I am being – sorry, D.]
+ Em, 8, wanting to listen to Britney Spears latest song, “3,” since it’s a song they dance to in hip hop class. [And Britney, you have so much power and responsibility…]
+ Kt, 11, spending too much time with a friend who isn’t the best influence.
+ Movies – anything R. Although we’ve made some bad choices about PG-13 ones.
+ Music – and the challenge of helping them think through the words.

:: Trying to have normal conversations about middle school health class. “Have they talked about STDs? Condoms? Doing the deed?”

:: Trying to convey that we shouldn’t care that much about the approval of others.

:: Praying for, and with, my girls.

Here are Dr. Meeker’s suggestions too:
Teach self-respect early.
When she dates, sweep the garage – presence for when she comes home.
Plan with her – help her understand that sex is for later.
Say something – don’t be afraid to discuss sex with your daughters.

I’m convinced that the next generation of girls – aged 5-20 right now – are going to be the major players in the global world in the future – they are the ones that are going to solve the worlds greatest problems. But they will only do this if they are protected and unleashed. Fathers, stay in the fight. Humanity needs your daughters at their best.

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Deana November 25, 2009, 9:34 pm

    I know this is for fathers…but you all also know me…and I have to chime in! Growing up without a father that took much interest in his girls, I know all too well the feelings that go along with wanting a father figure in my life.

    My husband, also, did not have a father figure growing up, and didn't have any sort of role model on how to be a father to a daughter. With our 11 year old, I have been able to tell him what she wants from him…without her even knowing what she wants. Because I remember what I wanted from my dad.

    And yes Lon, it is a daily fight…at least a daily reminder. Girls are constantly looking for someone to tell them the things they want to hear from their moms and dads. (Of course they don't know they are looking to hear it from their parents.) There are some things girls don't want to talk about with their dads…about the girlie things. But there are also things that the dad's have to be the ones to say. They have to tell their girls daily that they are beautiful on the outside…and have beautiful minds…they have to have inside jokes…they have to have their own special memories. They have to be told that their dad's will do everything in their power to protect them.

    I remember when she was about 5 years old and I heard her telling a friend, she could do anything if her daddy was helping her. She knows there is nothing he wouldn't do to help her. But she also knows he will let her "fall". But, he's always the one right there to pick her up.

    It is just as important for mothers to allow those relationships to happen. Sometimes mothers can think they are the ones that are supposed to have the strongest relationships with their children. But I have found it is very important for me to tell our daughter how good of a man her daddy is. I need to tell her there was a reason I chose him to be in my life. She needs to know that, because it enforces the tie that she has with her dad, but also teaches her to make those choices…what to look for in a husband and father of her children.

    You really do have an incredible job, you guys.
    My recent post You know what I herd?

  • lon November 25, 2009, 9:08 pm

    Hey Tony, is it really a fight every day? if so that's scary… i imagined this as an every now and then issue. do your girls 'get' why you say no? Meeker makes it sound like deep down it's something they long for… do you find it ever takes away from their own capacity to learn from mistakes?

    love your last paragraph Tony – though my daughters aren't quite 5 yet… hope they can join be a force in the world as well!

  • lon November 26, 2009, 9:07 pm

    Hey Deana – thanks for the insights! I love what you shared, especially about our daughters knowing that they can do just about anything with our help… what an amazing to live life knowing! I love the idea of enforcing the ties as well – I think sometimes we can just assume that since we might be great parents individually our kids will just catch on – but I can see how affirming aloud to our kids really helps them get a deeper sense of trust and security

  • Emily November 27, 2009, 8:00 pm

    Hey Tony- and whoever else might be reading this-
    have to chime in, though I am hardly a father 🙂 (instead a 21 year old girl!)

    As Tony knows- I am currently doing a six month internship working in a home for teenage street girls in Bolivia, many of whom worked as prostitutes, engaged in VERY early promiscuity, and/or were physically and sexually abused for years. I am doing a psychological independent study looking into their perceptions of sexuality. One of the categories we interviewed them on was the communication they'd had with their parents…

    7/8 girls told me their parents had NEVER talked to them about sex or sexual health. Not once.

    And the biggest reason they gave for engaging in sexual relationships so early, was, very much to my surprise:
    Curiousity. Boredom. Wanting to experiment.

    At age TWELVE.

    So, in my admittedly out of context opinion- good job talking to them about it. making it a topic of conversation i think is one of the best things we can do.

  • tonytsheng November 27, 2009, 9:10 pm

    hey guys sorry i'm late to the party…
    i think it can be a daily thing-but more of a mindset than actual actions every day. i think as long as we know what our kids are up against, that awareness is a great starting place.
    love what deana wrote about encouraging those relationships as a mom and wife – we fathers definitely need that kind of help.
    it's for sure hard to bring those topics up in conversation. very awkward. but as a dad, i'm used to being seen as a bit awkward from my tween…. haha

  • @div_conspiracy December 2, 2009, 2:52 am

    I always pictured myself as the 'cool' dad, you know, the one that lets the kids do stuff. But of course that's not what our kids need. They don't need us to be their 'buddy', they need us to be their parent. I keep hearing "your daughter WANTS you to tell her what is right" and "your daughter NEEDS you to guide her" which can only be done as a parent, not just a 'buddy'.

    Maybe I need to redefine what a 'cool' dad is…

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