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I see it almost every weekend as I travel to "Acquire the Fire" conventions across North America—young ladies busted, confused, hurt, and brokenhearted because of the shallowness or lack of relationship with their fathers.

I see them stream to the altar with makeup smeared all over their faces from the tears they have cried, asking God to be their Father, because their biological father is not there, physically or emotionally.

You don't have to see an altar call like that, though, to see the evidence of the lack of relationship between girls and their dads. You can see it in the eyes of girls wearing heavy makeup, short skirts, and flirting with the guys all the time.

You can see their insecurity manifested by how they look before they leave the house. They can't stand the thought of walking out of the house without bombarding themselves with every ounce of glamour that is sure to jerk the necks of every guy who walks by.

They are desperate for male attention. Any male will do. Any kind of attention will do. They want someone to tell them they are pretty. They want someone to tell them they are worthwhile.

In Parenting Isn't for Cowards, Dr. James Dobson writes:
Most psychologists believe, and I am one of them, that all future romantic relationships to occur in a girl's life will be influenced positively or negatively by the way she perceives and interacts with her dad. If he is an alcoholic and a bum, she will spend her life trying to replace him in her heart.

If he is warm and nurturing, she will look for a lover to equal him. If he thinks she is beautiful, worthy, and feminine, she will be inclined to see herself that way. But if he rejects her as unattractive and uninteresting, she is likely to carry self-esteem problems into her adult years.
The Bible says, "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Mal. 4:6).

Your daughter may or may not be struggling with low self-esteem, but fathers need to make sure they are doing the things that will endear their daughters to them. Here are several ways you can do that:

The first thing to do is pray for your daughter. Ask God to really turn your heart toward her, to help you really love her with a godly, fatherly love, and to help you see her as God sees her.

What you do to encourage a relationship should not be just a physical activity done out of obligation. Spending time together and doing things with her are great, but make sure it is a result of your heart genuinely being drawn towards her through prayer.

Continue to pray for her. Think about what she is going through at school and with friends, and pray for those specific areas. Listen to stories and things that are going on in her life, and pray for those things until your heart is overflowing with supernatural love from the Father.

It will take more than just one prayer time. It will take more than just a week or two. Take a couple of months to pray specifically for her and for your heart to be endeared toward her.

As a father and as the man of the house, God has called you to be the priest of your home. As a priest, you are to be the spiritual head. Think about it. What have you done to be the spiritual father to your daughter? How have you helped her grow in the Lord? Have you encouraged her in her walk with God?

As you pray for her and let God woo your heart towards her, ask the Lord what to say to her. "Lord, what would You want me to share with her? What scriptures would encourage her? How can she mature in her character and her walk with You?"

She needs to know that not only are you her biological father, but in a very real way you are helping her grow spiritually. She needs to know she can come to you for advice, counsel, and encouragement because she knows you hear the voice of God.

She knows you have wisdom because you have read the Scriptures and you understand the wise way of living. That means you need to be filling yourself up by reading the Bible, reading books about being a good father, listening to tapes, and writing down nuggets that you can share later.

Constantly pour into your daughter spiritually. She'll enjoy being around you because she'll feel like she is growing. You are blessing her, encouraging her, and helping her to take the next step in the Lord, rather than shoving God down her throat.

Is there anything you have said or done in the past that has hurt her in any way and marred her relationship with you? It's amazing how one comment from a father can totally destroy the relationship a daughter has with her dad and can send the relationship in a totally different direction.

Were you an absent father much of her childhood? Have you made comments about her looks or her weight? This is not to throw a guilt trip on you, but to help you realize the things that you need to deal with. Until these things are dealt with, they can keep a distance between you.

Your relationship with your daughter will directly mirror her perception of what the Father God is like. Daughters who have been abused, put down, discouraged, or disillusioned by their physical fathers often reflect that kind of perspective toward their spiritual Father. This is not just good advice to treat your daughters nicely. This could affect where she spends eternity!

If your daughter perceives her Father God as a mean, demanding, resentful, cold Father Who doesn't share His emotions or care enough to really listen to her and be a part of her life, she has no reason to want to be close to Him. Our responsibility is to represent the heart of Father God. If we are successful in representing the kind of Father He truly is, she will have the desire to know her Father in heaven.

Show your daughter the appropriate amount of male affection. Gordon McDonald writes:
Because a father is the first man to whom a daughter relates, that relationship is incredibly important—more so than most men realize. Daughters need to know that their fathers accept them as women and not just as little girls...Daughters also need physical affection from their fathers. Some fathers feel embarrassed about giving attention to their daughters. They may have to push themselves and deliberately demonstrate affection until it becomes natural.2
Most fathers operate on one extreme or the other in the affection department. Some will obviously err in being too affectionate and making their daughters feel uncomfortable. There are some fathers who have taken it to such an extreme that they have actually abused or violated their daughters.

Then there are fathers who go to the other extreme and have a strictly platonic, nuts-and-bolts type of relationship. They shake her hand and never physically get close.

There is a balance in the middle where your daughter needs to know the wholesome affection of her father. That is, kissing her on the cheek, hugging her tight around the neck, and putting your arm around her when you're watching a television program together. It should not be a foreign experience for your daughter to feel your arm around her.

James Dobson describes a daughter's need for appropriate affection:
With girls, physical contact (especially the affectionate type) increases in importance as she becomes older and reaches a zenith at around the age of 11. What a critical time...!

A child growing up in a home where parents use eye and physical contact will be comfortable with himself and other people. They will have an easy time communicating with others, and consequently be well-liked and have good self-esteem. Appropriate and frequent eye and physical contact are two of the most precious gifts we can give our children....

A father helps his daughter approve of herself by showing her that he approves of her. He does this by...unconditional love, eye contact, and physical contact, as well as focused attention. A daughter's need for her father to do this begins as early as two years of age. This need, although important at younger ages, becomes greater as the girl grows older and approaches that magic age of 13.

One problem in our society is that as a girl grows older, a father usually feels increasingly uncomfortable about giving his daughter the affection she needs. This is extremely unfortunate. Yes, fathers, we must ignore our discomfort and give our daughters what is vital to them for their entire lives.3
God made us with a mother and a father because He knows it takes affection and emotional contact from both. It is male and female affection, fatherly and motherly affection in our lives, that brings wholesomeness to children. When your daughter doesn't get wholesome affection from her father, she will look for affection somewhere else from another male. The tragedy is, they don't know what they're looking for. They just want someone to make them feel loved.

If they don't get that kind of affection or approval in a godly, fatherly way from their dads, they are going to look for it in the wrong way. Hence, so many young ladies become promiscuous and advertise their bodies to get attention from males.

Some, who feel that no matter what they do they can't get the right kind of affection, get themselves involved in sexual immorality—hoping that just for a moment, someone will give them the kind of affection that will fill their heart—only to find later they still feel empty.

What they are really looking for is wholesome male affection from their dad. If they get plenty of that, they won't need to look for affection from a guy, a date, or an unwholesome romantic relationship.

If some guy starts getting sweet on your daughter, giving her all kinds of compliments and accolades on how cute she is, the first thing that should pop in her mind is that her dad tells her that all the time.

Her heart should not be overwhelmed just because some guy spoke sweet words to her. She knows her father gives her wholesome affection and says those kinds of things to her and makes her feel valuable all the time. She won't be starstruck and fall into a trance when a guy pays attention to her because she is used to wholesome godly affection and attention.

In addition, she learns to recognize unwholesome, ungodly affection or attention, and it becomes a disdain, a disgrace, and a put-down to her—not something she longs for. When we treat our daughters with respect, valuing them as precious before God, unashamed to hug them and kiss them on the cheek, to tell them we love them, and to shower them with compliments, we are putting protective measures in their lives.

This keeps them from the wolves out there who are trying to give them unwholesome affection that can ultimately destroy their lives.

1James Dobson, Parenting Isn't for Cowards (Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1996) pp. 164-165.
2Jay Kesler with Ronald A. Beers, eds., Parents and Teenagers (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor Books, 1984)
p. 118.
3Mike Yorkey, ed., The Christian Family Answer Book (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Books, 1996) pp. 42-44.

Source: The Rescue Manual for Parents by Ron Luce
Excerpt permission granted by Albury Publishing

Author Biography

Ron Luce
Web site: Ron Luce
Ron Luce was the co-founder's and president of Teen Mania Ministries from 1986-2015. Ron and his wife Katie dreamed to raise up young people who would change the world.

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