A Letter to My Daughters (Ages 7 and 3)

Many of you may not be aware of it, but there is a growing conversation on the internet right now regarding the treatment of women by the church and society at large. I think it’s a discussion that everyone needs to engage in because not only is it shaping who we are today, it’s also shaping the world in which the little girls around us will grow up.

Last night, I read this beautiful post by Sarah over at Emerging Mummy entitled “In Which I Thank My Brothers.” It reminded me of a guest post that I wrote for Rachel Held Evans nearly one year ago. You can view the original post and ensuing comments HERE. I’m posting it today on my blog because I’m sure many of you missed it the first time around.

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A picture of Lucy and Abra when they were much younger.

A letter to my daughters (ages 7 and 3):

Lucy and Abra,

I remember when you were born and the realization hit me: I have a daughter. A little girl. I remember how different that felt from when our son, Cade, was born – I felt so much more protective of each of you, as if you held a vulnerability not common to baby boys. This inexplicable difference seems to have carried on. When I want to show affection to Cade, I tackle him. But the two of you, I just want to hold, and hug, and protect.

Sometimes it seems unfair, this incongruity, and I know you often want to feel the wild side of your father, to be thrown in the air, to be curled up in a ball and squeezed, to run through the house as if you are being chased by a roaring lion. And so I throw you, I squeeze you, I chase you, but all along, I must admit, all that I want to do is rescue you.

I sometimes wonder if, as a man, I have anything to teach you about being a woman. What I know of womanhood is only secondhand information, things gleaned from my mother or my sisters or your mother. I don’t even know if I want to pass these imperfect little gems on to you. But I know some things that I do want.

I want you to be strong, in every way.I want you to live out a life that is reflective of your calling, whether that means finding a career and fighting your way to the top, or finding a husband and having seven children, or anything in between.

But mostly I want you to do what you want to do, because you want to do it. I don’t want you to avoid motherhood because the world makes it seem like the irresponsible choice. I don’t want you to avoid a successful career, just because the church tries to pin the Proverbs 31 tag on you.

If you are determined to play football, then I will teach you how to tackle. If you want to play baseball, I will teach you how to throw a curve.* If you want to play soccer with the boys, then I’ll show you how to leave them frozen in space. And if you are set on playing with your dolls, and want me to join in, then I will pretend to cry and let you put me to bed.

I want you to be. However that looks. Whatever that means.

You are my girls. Some day you will be women. That is a special, special thing.

Your Dad

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*Editor’s note – I was called out by Bryan Allain after the original posting and had to admit that my curve ball is actually just a fastball that spins a lot.

13 Replies to “A Letter to My Daughters (Ages 7 and 3)”

  1. I would love to have a daughter one day. And I echo your sentiments.

    And that editor’s note made me laugh out loud.

  2. Grateful for this re-posting since I didn’t see the original. As I dig in to read essay upon heartbreaking essay for WaWiW, this kind of message is exactly what I need to bolster me.

  3. Loved your post and Emerging Mummy! Hooray for men, women, boys and girls brave and strong enough to assert that each of us should go after the life God has placed in our hearts, go after it will all we have and never, ever let it go. It takes all of us making simple choices and raising voices each days to make this possible for everyone. Keep it up!

  4. Hey Shawn!

    LOVE this letter to your daughters. Thank you for writing it (and sharing it with us).

    I also submit to you that what your daughters learn about being a woman? And their identity? They will learn as a direct result of your relationship with them as their Father. They identify with their Mom as a girl but YOU give them definition and identity as their father and through your relationship with their Mother. They will learn through the way you treat and respect and protect them (and their Mom and other women) how valuable they are as women.

    Just thoughts. I have no doubt, Shawn, that you are raising incredible contributors to society and awesome givers to the world. Your girls (and boys), I’m sure, are and will be great men and women in God’s economy.


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