Monday, August 6, 2012

gladness immeasurable

I am standing with both of them, the one that looks like me on the left and the one that looks like her father on my right. They are tall, tall as me, and full of the willowy grace of hastily retreating girlhood.

He regards them. He smiles and says: “I’m glad I don’t have daughters.”  He means it as a compliment. A lighthearted joke. We smile back and laugh.

I smile, yes - but I am thinking it was funnier the first time someone said it. When they were perched in a shopping cart in tutus, all of two-and-a-half feet tall. How many fathers of sons have said this? How many times?  I’m glad I don’t have daughters. Glad. I’m glad about it.

Why, I want to ask? Why glad? Are sons so much easier to raise? There are two of those under my roof as well. What is it about daughters that their absence in your home is a relief to you? Is it their emotions? Sons have those, too.

But I can see the answer as you look at my girls: how can that sweetness be brought safely to adulthood? Men you understand – the paths of their thinking, the patterns of their acting. If your sons act rashly with women the consequences can be minimized. If my daughters act rashly with men the consequences can be massive.

You think I should be afraid. You ascribe truth to the common crass joke that with a son you only have to worry about one set of sex organs, but with a daughter…

I reject this analysis of the risk. I reject the fear-mongering apparitions of predatory sons and pregnant daughters as motivators for my parenting.  These are the substance of a philosophy that believes a pregnant daughter is the worst thing a parent has to fear. This is far from the truth. My greatest concern cannot be that they reach marriage unsullied and unharmed - it must be that they grow to love God above all else. If they make mistakes on the road to adulthood, even mistakes with permanent consequences, we must face them bravely and run to their Savior for forgiveness and help.

Do you think that your sons are at less risk to be harmed by wrong decisions? You take too much comfort in their lack of a uterus. You have calculated the risk only in physical terms. There are always consequences for sin - some of them just gestate longer. If you considered my daughters as valuable as if they were your own, you would raise different sons. In all likelihood, one day you will have daughters. Raise sons who choose them well.

I am glad I have daughters.  You must hear this: Glad. They are strong and smart and serene. They know what their bodies are capable of. They know what men’s bodies are capable of. They are not afraid of your sons. And neither am I. They will know if your sons are worthy of their attention because their father’s example has hard-wired them to recognize character. Instead of intimidating someone else’s sons at the front door, he has wooed the hearts of his daughters every day of their lives. I am glad I have daughters, and by God’s grace the father of their husbands will be glad I had them, too.

You do not mean to offend or challenge. I know this. My head measures your words and finds no fault, but my heart measures the culture that has taught you to repeat these lines. You catch me at a vulnerable moment.

They are running - running, I tell you – toward womanhood. No more tutus and sequined shoes. The heavy-lashed eyes of their dolls have long grown accustomed to the darkness on the highest shelf in the closet. On a day not far distant those two rumpled beds will remain neatly made side by side in the room they share. There will be no more jumbles of hangerless clothes, no twisted cords of curling irons, no fine dust of beauty products adhered to the sink top with a film of hairspray. They will be gone. Let it be known that there has been gladness in their growing and going. Let it be known that I have been glad beyond measure.

Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Psalm 33:20-21


  1. Well-said, as usual. :) And as usual, I absolutely LOVE it. Thank you for this encouragement and perspective.

  2. Jen, i loved loved loved this post!
    I grew up hearing people tell my parents this (They only had two kids- both girls), and Ive been told this and I appreciate your refreshing take.
    Daughters are just as scary as sons in that they will SURELY be sinful, but I love our high calling as moms and dads to raise them well to know character in the opposite sex. Especially love the rejection of fear mongering in our culture. Especially the picture of the protective dad at the door (as if thats the only way to protect your daughter!)

  3. You put into words what I think so often! Thank you for saying it for us moms of girls...I have three and I am GLAD!

  4. Love it! This resonated with me, as I am the oldest of three girls, but the mother of two sons. (I get similar comments about my boys at times, albeit for different reasons. "How do you do it? They're so active! But it'll be easier later..." Really??) And you're right about sin and men... they can be just as damaged by it. By God's grace alone, we will parent our boys to be godly men. And I pray for more parents who delight in their girls, and that teach them to be women who possess strength and dignity as their clothing.(Prov 31:25) Praying for those type of women for my two boys. But we will delight in whomever the Lord sends our way. :)

  5. So beautifully written. Brought me to tears of joy and thankfulness for my baby girl.

  6. Probably the most beautiful post I have ever read. Loved it. It was a breath of fresh air to my sou. A soul which it mother to two daughters and one son. Trying to teach them all the love Jesus with all of their being.

  7. I have always been glad I had two daughters and no sons. I continue to pray that a Godly set of parents are raising a son worthy of my daughters. Thank you for this thought provoking column.

  8. That was well said - thanks for identifying this problem. Yes I have a problem with it too. I have 3 daughters (11,14,16) who are in the middle of this journey. It is strange to hear the comments which really put down the experience of mothering daughters...even from Christians. We don't need to be so afraid of our daughters, or teenagers in general. Time to redeem teenagers from all the negatives our culture has developed and allowed! A great book that does this is "Age of Opportunity" by Paul David Tripp.

  9. Thank you soooooo much for saying this.
    It needed to be said.
    I love how you said that our goal as parents is not to just see them to marriage unsullied.
    I tell my kids that they can bring anything to me. Nothing is beyond redemption.
    And I try to parent withOUT my reputation in mind.
    It doesn't matter near as much as they do.
    Thank you!

  10. SUCH beautiful words and perspective you have!! I am a new follower thanks to a friend sharing your "Pain of Childbirth" post. Your words are so direct and strong in faith - they can't help but inspire other mama's. Thanks for writing - it is a gift to us!

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm a mother to a son and two daughters and two granddaughters. Raising any child is a blessing and a challenge and impossible without our faith. THis was a beautiful article:)

  12. Hey I just found your blog via one of your readers, but I just wanted to say that this is absolutely perfect. You put into words what I've often tried to.

  13. I have sent this to about 15 of my "daddies with daughters" friends, and we have all agreed that this entry was incredibly powerful. You wrote, "They will know if your sons are worthy of their attention because their father’s example has hard-wired them to recognize character." These words cut me to the heart and cause me to fall on my knees and pray that God would fill me with character that would instill in my girls the "worthiness" that is theirs - and out of this worth comes the ability to choose wisely their friends, dates, boyfriends, and husband. Thank you for both this encouragement and this admonishment! God bless you!

  14. cannot stop crying over this! i have 2 boys and just had our first daughter this summer, and this is the most beautifully articulated post! praying for my little one to grow into a woman who loves and fears the Lord and quickly sees her need for a Savior. thank you!