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Who will my daughter marry? (A letter to dads with daughters)

You and I both wonder, Who will my daughter marry?

No matter who it is, the young punk (er, I mean, young man) will most certainly not be worthy of her!

I think of that Dierks Bentley song, What Was I Thinkin’:

She snuck out one night and met me by the front gate
Her daddy came out wavin’ that twelve gauge
We tore out the drive, he peppered my tailgate
What was I thinkin’?

At one point, maybe I could identify with the young guy sneaking away in the truck. Now that I have two daughters of my own I identify more with the gun-waving dad!

But seriously, if your daughter chooses to get married, there is something significant for dads to keep in mind that we easily overlook.

In What a Difference a Daddy Makes, Kevin Leman says this:

“A woman’s relationship with her father, more than any other relationship, is going to affect her relationship with all other males in her life—her bosses, coworkers, subordinates, sons, husbands, brothers, pastors, college professors, and even Hollywood stars… There’s not a single relationship that isn’t indelibly stamped—for good or for ill—but the man known as Daddy.”

who will my daughter marry-

Have you ever heard someone say that a girl “married her father”? They don’t mean she actually married her father. They say she “married her father” because she married someone like him. Perhaps his personality contained something she knew on a deep, instinctual level… something familiar.

Sometimes this carries forward problems from the past—maybe prejudices or passive aggression or alcoholism.

But the reverse is also true:

A pattern of positive relationships in the present impacts a pattern of positive relationships in the future.

Having said that, the biggest thing you can probably do to ensure your daughter marries a man of integrity is to be a man of integrity.

A little while ago I picked up a book called 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates. In it, Rob Teigen writes:

“The boy that comes along who is interested in my little girl had better be a respectful, trustworthy, kind, and godly man if he even thinks he’s going to have a shot at dating her. That’s how I feel, but I had better parent my daughters in a way that models how they deserve to be loved.”

I talk with parents at different stages. One of the things I hear from parents of older kids is that, as time goes on, you feel like you have less and less control over what’s happening in your child’s life—whether it has to do with hobbies, friends, life choices, or partners.

In those situations, and especially with respect to forming relationships, kids may not always do exactly what you want, but they will most likely draw deeply and instinctively from what they’ve been taught about how to be treated and how rich relationships can be.

The biggest thing you can probably do to ensure your daughter marries a man of integrity is to be a man of integrity.

So. What do you do?

First, prioritize God. Make Jesus and his church a real priority. If it’s not clear that he’s making a significant and positive difference in who you are, that he’s your real Boss, and that prayer, the Bible, Sunday worship, and service are shaping your existence, I think it’s less likely your daughter will seek God’s hand in a husband.

Second, prioritize your own marriage. When your daughter sees you providing for your happy young family have fun on beachwife, listening to her, deeply respecting her, honoring her work, and loving her more than you love yourself (see Ephesians 5:25-28) she is learning what to look for in a husband.

Third, prioritize service. I believe that when you serve–whether as a coach, on school council, at church, as a cub scout leader, or elsewhere–you are teaching your daughter that men of integrity build up their communities for the good of their communities. In an age of me-first and anything-goes, the community-builders among us are the real giants.

And lastly, prioritize her. Put the phone down, play games, have conversations, and don’t rush. Life is full, so you can’t do it all the time, but you can do it some of the time. The respect, fairness and non-judgment you surround her with, are a fortress that will last long after she is no longer in your arms; they will let her know that a relationship is a place of safety. This is especially important in a cheap and demoralizing culture that continually tells your daughter she isn’t thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or good enough.

So fellow-dads, let me say it again: A pattern of positive relationships in the present impacts a pattern of positive relationships in the future.

The biggest thing you can probably do to ensure your daughter marries a man of integrity is to be a man of integrity.

One day, your daughter will be gone from your house. Maybe you’ll have walked her down the aisle.

If and when that moment comes, you’ll no longer be the first man in her life.

But that’s okay.

Because you’ll have done your best to show her how rich a relationship can be.

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