Monday, June 7, 2010

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

I have not posted anything here for a long time, and I thought it would be good to get back into form with a book review.

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters
by Meg Meeker, M.D.

I am always looking for something to help me be a better father to my three kids. There are lots of good books out there, and lots that aren't so good. However, it seems as if I have found more books about raising sons than I have about raising daughters. Partly, I think this is because of a recognized need in our culture. Boys in our culture are caught in a trap. There has been little to help them understand what manhood is, and even less to help them attain that. So there have been some great books written to address that need. On the other hand, because I work in a men's ministry, I see the results of this lack of training, upbringing and focus for boys.

But I recently realized that my daughter was nearly grown, and while I have put a lot of effort into helping her grow, I needed to do more. So I began to search for information. Dr. Meeker's book came to the top of the stack, and I'm glad it did.

Dr. Meeker is a pediatrician, and has seen thousands of girls from birth to late teens in her practice. She has an extensive background of doctor-patient experience to draw upon, and she has a secret for you. You, Dad, are the most important person in your daughter's life.

Our daughters are literally assaulted by a society that tells them they can never be thin enough, popular enough, or well-dressed enough. From the time they can walk they are supposed to be sexy. From the time they start school, they are told they must please boys, must measure themselves against sex-pot actresses and singers, must live up to the world's standard of beauty or they aren't worth anything. They are assaulted daily, and their chief defense against that is how their fathers see them, speak to them, teach them, and treat them.

Dr. Meeker pulls no punches. She tells stories of girls whose fathers have crippled them emotionally, and who seek affirmation in hook-up sex, drugs, and alcohol. She also tells stories of girls whose fathers have armored them against such things by their own love. Some have gone to the wall for their daughters, and their daughters thrive because of it. She tells stories of fathers who didn't do everything right, but when the crisis came, they stood up for their daughters and drew them back from the brink of death. There are stories here to make you weep and stories to make you cheer. And they are all true.

In addition, Dr. Meeker sets forth statistics and studies that show how important fathers are to their daughters, and just the kind of stresses and pain our daughters face. There are many facts and stories here about eating disorders, which are literally causing our daughters to waste away before our eyes. Naturally, as a pediatrician, Meeker has seen many such cases. She also has treated many teen girls for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and she give absolutely frightening statistics about our daughters (and our sons, but the daughters are the focus here).

Depression ranks as one of the major health issues for teen girls, and Dr. Meeker has seen and treated much of it. She says that she has come to view depression in girls as another STD, because it is always linked to sexual activity.

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters is not just a listing of the woes and troubles that face our daughters, though. Meeker details positive, active ways you can strengthen your daughters, lift them up, and ensure that they succeed in life, in love, and in spirit. While Meeker is obviously Christian and writes from that viewpoint, this isn't a preachy book. She does stress the need for faith in your life and your daughter's, but she doesn’t specify any specific faith. She sees faith as one of the major factors in your daughter's health. As such, those who don't want to read a "Christian" book on raising their daughters will find this book eminently readable and applicable to their lives.

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. Get it, read it, use it. Your daughters will thank you.

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