A daughter sees her worth through her father’s eyes

She shared her life story in front of a small audience. Drama after drama, heartache after heartache, relationship after relationship. At the age of 17, she went through an abortion. It was not a simple procedure because she was already advanced in her pregnancy.

At one point, she related a story about her final week in Discipleship Training School with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) – an intensive five-month programme focused on Christian discipleship. She had just sat through a guest speaker’s teaching, and it was time for prayer. He started to pray for a classmate seated near her, but each word he uttered felt like it was meant for her. Soon, steeped in tears, she began to release all her years of pain in front of her classmates in the room.

The speaker sat her down in the middle of the room, placed a towel on his shoulder and laid her head on it for her to cry into. He began to speak into her life, words that affirm the Father’s love for her – gentle and loving words.

In other people’s eyes, she was always the strong one, the warrior, but that day, she was vulnerable, like a small and fearful child.

At this point, I started to cry. While my teenage years were not half as dramatic or traumatic as hers, the underlying thread was the same. I remembered growing up wondering why my dad had never expressd his love to me. My primary love language is words of encouragement, and as a young girl, I longed to hear him speak just one kind, affirming word to me, and it never quite came. That longing soon turned into anger when teenagehood arrived.

I spent those years looking for love in the wrong places, and now as a grown, married woman, I finally understand the reason. It was because I was unable to find an anchor in my father’s love.

I am not blaming my dad for the mistakes I’ve made. He’s not caused me harm or hurt in any intentional way. He showed love as best as he knew how, and faithfully provided for the family and served us with his hands and strength. Today, I know that he loves me and my mum, and I know he is proud of his grandkids. Even though he still doesn’t express his love verbally, I can see it in the small ways – how he laughs with the kids, and buys little gifts for them.

On hindsight, I can see his love for me in the small ways too…

A daughter sees her worth through her father’s eyes.

As I listened to Jennifer share her story in her steady, calm voice, I found it hard to imagine that she had to go through all those years of guilt, hurt, and shame. I could no longer see that fearful child in her. All I saw was a lady rescued by the grace and love of the Father.

I bought her book, Walking out of Secret Shame, and am almost halfway through it. Here is a short excerpt:

I’ve always wanted my Dad to be proud of me. He was a high achiever himself, intelligent and astute. I guess he wanted me to be like him. As the firstborn, my parents had high expectations of me and I managed to do pretty well in school. But words of affirmation and encouragement were seldom heard and I wondered if I was still missing the mark.

While I was growing up, my life was filled with classes of every sort – piano, ballet, art and swimming. I excelled in all of them as well as in my studies. I was extroverted and had a strong personality. As a result, I was often picked for various roles in school plays, or was made the class monitor or school prefect…I was innately driven by a need for recognition and applause and worked hard to see the proud looks on my parents’ faces, although those were few and far between.

When Dad left, all that seemed to fall apart. I lost my motivation to excel. I became angry, resentful and stressed by the expectations of both my Mum and myself. I hated that I was not doing as well as I had done when I was younger. Yet I did not know how to manage my growing anxiety and fear when demands were placed on me. It was as though my Dad’s leaving caused me to lose the motivation to excel…

This story could have been mine, or perhaps someone you know. As I’ve been touched by her story, I would like to give away two signed copies of her book to you. If you know someone who will be blessed by the book, feel free to leave a comment here saying you would like a copy, or you can also email me at mamawearpapashirt (AT) gmail.com.

The love of a father for his son

Some weeks back, my friend San asked me why despite having a category called “Bringing up girls“, I don’t have anything called “Bringing up boys”.

Good question.

I realised that I had been too busy straddling a job, marriage, two kids, and writing, that I really haven’t given it much thought. The fact that we have been given the great responsibility of bringing up a boy, a man-to-be, hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

So this post is somewhat a first attempt at thinking about this awesome responsibility.

I have high hopes for my boy. To be a God-fearing man, a man who values and respects women, a man who will lead by example, a man who will not buckle in the face of adversity because he knows and relies on the strength of our God.

A man who stays humble, and who never stops learning and re-learning.

I think his first glimpse of God will come largely through his experience with his earthy papa. So I’m ever glad for occasions like these…for the duo to spend some man-to-boy time, play a little rough, get dirty, and for him to soar on good ol’ dad’s shoulders first, before he learns to fly.

A boy learns about his own strength through his father. And whether to use it for love and building up, or for anger and strife.

If you’re also tasked with this amazing privilege of raising boys, here’s an article that you may like to bookmark somewhere for keeps: Raising Boys (A Dad’s Advice for Moms). (I particularly like his advice that we should think cavemen, watch his body, not his mouth, and hug whenever we’re in doubt.)

iDad – better than any mobile app

You, daddy, are daddy dearest — Vera’s favourite playmate, and JJ’s punching bag on bad days (when I’ve had enough and I pass him to you).

Whenever you’re home, you’re always up to something with the kids. The house lights up with laughter whenever you’re around, and you’re the perfect balance to mummy’s neurotic-ness.

Yet you are also disciplinarian. Because you hardly raise your voice, when you actually do, we all take notice and proceed with care. (Especially Vera.)

I really don’t need father’s day to come by so that I can say ‘thank you’ for being such a loving and strong father.

I can say that every day, and I probably should (although I do notice now that you’ve cut down a lot on diaper-changing duties).

But poo-related tasks aside, I want to acknowledge you for your love, your care, your efforts to discipline and teach, and your simply just being here.

Because you’re here, I can be confident of these things.

That our children will grow to know and love our God

That they will be confident and well-adjusted adults who will live out lives that are purpose-driven and pleasing to our Maker.

That is the extent, the magic, the power, of a father’s influence on a child.

You are Dad — one with a superhero ability to stay calm when everything around us is caving in.

And I love you.

You are far better than any app that tech geniuses can dream of.

You are iDad. OurDad. The I-can-beat-any-app-hands-down kinda dad.

The best thing a father can do

I came across this quote the other day by John Wooden, a renowned basketball coach.

best thing a father can do

“The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”

It struck a deep chord within me, as I reflected upon our marriage and parenting journey over the past few years. In our society and culture in Singapore, we often see a father as the provider, protector, and strength of the family. Granted, many mothers today also play these roles to varying extents.

And as I think about this simple quote, I realise that the roles and responsibilities that a father often shoulders are in actual fact so closely linked to, and can be boiled down to this one thing — LOVING HIS WIFE. He can’t fully provide if the marriage is in shambles, neither can he fully protect.

But when the love within the marriage is strong, even when trials and challenges present themselves, the family stands a good fighting chance of weathering them together.

So today, I just want to express my thankfulness and love for the man in my house — my God-fearing, loving and also laughter-inducing husband, who also helps out with the kids as much as he can.

Although we may be walking through some challenging circumstances right now, I know things will be alright. As long as we walk hand-in-hand, our hearts open to God in obedience, He will surely carry us through.

A loving marriage is the foundation of a strong, healthy family. Do you agree?

Read also: The power of a father

The power of a father

If you’ve been following my blog for a bit, you would have read a couple of posts involving Vera and her dear daddy. (Papa is so good, for example.)

You probably already know Daddy has a very special place in her heart. Almost like there’s a hole in there in his unique shape, that no one, NO ONE, but Daddy can fill.

I’m not one bit jealous. On the contrary, I can’t even begin to explain the joy that fills my heart when I see them together, and so in love.

I know that with her dad’s love, she will grow up secure and strong. I know that with her dad holding her hand when she’s venturing into a new area where she’s never been before, she will slowly gain in courage and confidence. I know that when her dad teaches and corrects her, she will learn to respect authority and understand that certain boundaries are drawn for her own sake.

I know. Perhaps because I sort of never had that kind of daddy.

I tend to sigh when I think back about my own childhood memories involving my father. I mean, he wasn’t all that bad. He was a quiet, traditional, and rather serious man. He never caned me; for some reason his wrath would be mostly re-directed to my brother. Still, I’ve never quite known how to approach this man, and I suspect he never quite knew how to approach this young woman too. Even now, when he comes over to visit the kids, the words we exchange would be few.

Yet despite all our communication gaps, I am thankful that he is still a good father. He has provided for us as a family, and I choose not to judge him for what he did or did not do. I understand that it’s hard for some traditional fathers to express their love in ways that we daughters would appreciate. But he is still my father, the man who made my life — and much of its joys and blessings possible.

So, I wish to acknowledge all fathers today.

You have a remarkable role to play in your children’s lives. Whether you choose to be active or passive, to play and cheer, or to watch from afar, you are leaving a deep imprint that can never be removed.

In Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know, Dr Meg Meeker shares a simple truth:

“Dads, you are far more powerful than you think you are.”

Especially to your daughter. She will look to you for all things — love, security, approval, affirmation, protection. She will always yearn for your attention and affection. You are the first man in her life. She will see her worth through your eyes.

Dr Meeker minces no words (nor statistic) in her writing.  In her more than 20 years’ experience as a psychologist, she has seen many girls depressed, engaging in sexual activity at a young age, with eating disorders, etc, and the common thread among these girls? The lack of an involved father.

While she speaks mainly from an American perspective, I don’t think what she’s describing is a localized phenomenon.

Citing research from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Dr Meeker writes:

“Daughters who perceive that their fathers care a lot about them, who feel connected to their fathers, have significantly fewer suicide attempts and fewer instances of body dissatisfaction, depression, low self-esteem, substance use, and unhealthy weight.” 

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How can you express your love and care to your daughter? The secrets that she shares in her book might be a good starting point:

1. You are the most important man in her life
2. She needs a hero
3. You are her first love
4. Teach her humility – so that she is grounded, and is able to develop strong relationships.
5. Protect her, defend her (and use a shotgun if necessary) – ‘nuff said.
6. Pragmatism and grit: your two greatest assets – teach her to deal with difficult situations.
7. Be the man you want her to marry
8. Teach her who God is
9. Teach her to fight – take a clear stance on morals.
10. Keep her connected

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But what about if for some reason, your child can’t have her father actively involved in her life? I think it can still make a difference if there is a close male figure who can be committed to being involved in your her life, so take heart and take action.

What has made the difference in my life and the way I view my dad? My relationship with my Father in heaven…and I believe He can do the same for you too.

If this post has touched you in some way, please do share it with your family and loved ones. 

Read also: The best thing a father can do

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