I wasn’t always such a nice guy. There was a season of my life where I would lie and manipulate to get what I wanted. I was calculating and exact; like a master of deception I knew what to do, what to say, and how to say it. I would promise to call – and wouldn’t. I said I really cared – but I didn’t. I’d act excited the next morning – but I wasn’t. Shamefully, women represented for me a means to an end and as soon as the mission was complete, the victory achieved, and the thrill gone – so where they.
I wish I could say that this behavior happened during a time when games and dishonor would be blamed on youthful self-centeredness – but that too would be a lie. The fact is this narcissism occurred no so long ago when I knew better and had a very important reason to act like I did – I had a daughter.
As I think back at my actions in those days I am appalled at the hypocrisy. Here I was, this father to a beautiful little girl, engaging in a lifestyle that I would have been mortified for her to discover. Wasn’t I was supposed to be living in a way that showed her what real manhood should be? Wouldn’t she be getting her queues on how boys should treat her from the way I treated women? If that was so, the rate I was going she’d be pregnant or on a stripper pole by her 19th birthday.
The first few years following my divorce I was easily able to separate fatherhood from singlehood. Because my children were far too young to ever grasp concepts like character and decency I could live one way while they were looking and live another when they weren’t. I hid my disgrace behind their naivety. But as they got older and our communication evolved from monologue to dialogue that little voice we each have started getting my attention. Now that we were having discussions around topics that would be the foundation for their eventual view on life, no longer would my conscience allow me get away with living a double standard.
If there is a litmus test, or barometer, for telling how well fathers are doing – as men- it’s summed up in the answer to this question:
“Would I let me date my daughter?”
How a man responds to that leaves no room for excuses and justifications. We can’t wiggle out of it, use the worn out excuse “you don’t understand”, or sweep it under the rug. All we have to do is replace ourselves, our behaviors, and how we see things with that boy who keeps texting and calling her. All the sudden those private corners of our life, the ones we don’t show anyone but continue telling ourselves is no big deal become a really big deal.
Would you let that boy treat her the way you treat your wife?
Would you let him date her if he was addicted to pornography?
Would you bless their relationship if he had a gambling habit? Stole from his company? Took drugs?
Would you let him hang around if he did what you do – when no one’s looking?
Far too many parents, moms included, view everything in life on a case-by-case basis? We allow way too much subjectivity and leave more room for interpretation than we should. It seems almost every wrong deed we perform can be explained away with circumstance. We have an explanation for that affair on our wives or why we belittle, demean, and abuse her. But when it comes to our children, especially a father and his daughter, we have no tolerance for circumstances, understanding, or forgiveness.
So we hide our disgrace behind our arrogance.
But as men and fathers we can’t live like that. We can’t disrespect and dishonor our wives but expect boys to treat our daughter like a princess. We have a responsibility, in fact a duty, to live in such a way that our daughters will know, from what they see in us, which boys to become involved with and which to stay away from. Through our actions, how we talk to her mother, how we treat her grandparents, what kind of father we are to her siblings, and how we treat the people around us she will learn to respect others, us, but most importantly herself. And in my own case, to live in a way that she will learn to distinguish a boy’s sincere interest and appreciation from someone who only sees her as a means.
The way I see it, if every daughter wants to marry someone like her daddy I hope to live the life of someone I’d want her to.