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Teach her humility

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

Chapter 4 – Teach her humility – is brought to you by someone on the other side of the planet that I feel I have an awful lot in common with (including a twitter bio with plenty of bling) – Futurist, catalyst, change agent, writer, web designer, and human potential maven Sam Radford.





I was delighted when Lon gave me the chapter on humility to blog about as part of this Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters series. I thought to myself, he knows, he’s seen it, he’s noticed. I mean, who better than myself to talk about humility? And as for my daughter Eloise, she is so privileged to have such a master of humility teaching her as she grows up. This is something that just flows through my veins.

Or not.

Regardless, this IS a really important subject and whilst it isn’t probably what you’d expect to find in a book on raising daughters, I am convinced that in many ways this is one of – if not the – most important things we can try and encourage within our daughters.

The author, Meg Meeker, does a good job of quickly clarifying what humility is and isn’t, as so many of us don’t think of humility as a positive trait at all. I remember teaching on humility in South Africa with black teenagers only to discover at the end of the session that the only association they had with the word humility was humiliation. Knowing what true humility is actually all about is vital.

Here’s how Meeker defined it: “Humility means having a proper perspective on ourselves, of seeing ourselves as we really are. It also means knowing that every person has equal worth.”

Starting out with that explanation would have definitely saved me a wasted session out in South Africa.

The challenge as I see it when it comes to humility is in how we teach this to our daughters. Telling them what it is, what it means, and why it’s important isn’t going to cut it. How do we make sure that humility goes beyond being just a subject our daughters give mental assent to and becomes a truly embedded life value?

Meeker addresses this early on by simply stating that, “humility doesn’t make sense unless it is modelled”. So if we want our daughters to live with humility, with a proper perspective on themselves, we need to live a life of humility that neither over or understates who we are and that values every human being.

So, this isn’t a one off conversation with our daughters. This is about how we live as fathers every minute of every day. If we live self-centred and self-absorbed lives, then that’s what our daughters will soak up.

I loved the story Meeker told about a father taking his daughter away for a trip to serve in the Dominican Republic, not just because of the specific elements she described about their interactions on that trip, but because it raises the important subject of serving others. What better way to model a life that isn’t all about us than to practically serve others?

As a family we all went out to serve for three weeks in a township on the edge of Johannesburg this summer just gone. Pretty much everyone thought we were crazy to embark on a venture like that when our daughter, Eloise, was only 6 months old. But we want those kinds of adventures to be part of our family life.

Now, of course, I know Eloise won’t have any recollection of that trip, but it was important for us as parents to say right from the outset that we’re going to make our lives about more than just us as a family. We want our daughter to grow up being part of something bigger than just us.  And that, I think, is a big part of having a healthy perspective on life.

Humility is so important to successfully engaging with life at all its different stages. And, in particular, it is vital to forging healthy relationships. “Your daughter was created to live in an intricate web of relationships. Humility keeps her inside that web. Self-centredness and pride pluck her out of it.”

It is our job as fathers to help prepare our daughters to be ready for and engage with every different stage of life. And relationships are at the heart of every one of these stages. If we can successfully model and embed a true sense of humility in our daughters we are actually preparing our daughters for success and happiness.

So, here’s to living a life of humility – and hoping and praying that our daughters ‘catch’ that way of life.

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • lon November 23, 2009, 6:31 pm

    Great post Sam! Humility is a really weird one… while it's seen as an honorable trait, it's not openly encouraged. not being prideful possibly, but actually seeing value in humility is far off. it goes against our nature. plus you can't really just tell a child to be humble – but you hit it right on with service and being about 'others' as a very tangible expression we can inspire our kids on. way to go Sam!

  • tonytsheng November 23, 2009, 3:51 pm

    great post sam. your family is an inspiration!

  • lon November 23, 2009, 6:31 pm

    Great post Sam! Humility is a really weird one… while it's seen as an honorable trait, it's not openly encouraged. not being prideful possibly, but actually seeing value in humility is far off. it goes against our nature. plus you can't really just tell a child to be humble – but you hit it right on with service and being about 'others' as a very tangible expression we can inspire our kids on. way to go Sam!

  • Melissa Heerebout November 24, 2009, 12:29 pm

    Hi Sam – Great post – I've really enjoyed following along with this series and hearing these men pour out there hearts of love to raise these young women. As women and a mother it means so much to me to hear your passion to have a strong daughter.

  • lon November 25, 2009, 4:13 pm

    Thanks for the comment Melissa – nice to have a woman chiming into the discussion as well! I was thinking the other day, what a tremendous task men have… then I thought hey what do mothers contribute? And it hit me that while there are many things I hope to impart to my girls, I can't ultimately teach them to be woman. We really need mom's to do that… there's nothing on earth like passionate mothers and fathers raising strong children together!

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