A few weeks ago, my family was out on that seasonal, torturous safari called “shopping for new clothes.” Having secured our quarry, the boys and I found spots to sit and wait while the ladies rummaged through the clearance rack wilderness looking for the elusive “cute” spring and summer clothes with enough material. The hunt was on.
Having bagged enough clothes to fill a few closets, the girls then proceeded to try on their spoils. And the fashion show began, complete with a glamour walk, as they exited the changing room. As they finished their spin on the “runway,” one of my little girls would look at me with her big, blue eyes and ask, “What do you think, Daddy?”
On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like a hard question. They just wanted my opinion about an item of clothing. But each time they asked me that question, there was so much going on in my mind; figuring out what to say felt like solving a complex quadratic equation.
What do you think, Daddy?
- That I want to be really careful how I answer this question. I’ve had so many conversations with girls who never felt loved by Dad. Some pursued that love in other men, others in success and being driven; still others hurt themselves. So, I understand the power of my answer to that question in the hearts of my little girls. What do I think? Oh, God, let me impart grace and love to my girls when I answer this question.
- That I love you more than I can explain. I desperately want my girls to know and feel that with every part of who they are. I don’t want them to be the girls who are not secure in their father’s love or their Father’s. What do I think? I think I love you, sweetie.
- That you are growing up way too quickly. Who said this could happen? No one asked me! I mean, you have opinions about clothes and goals for your life. Part of me wants that–and part of me wants Daddy’s Little Girl to stay that way. Why is this going so fast?
- That will not work. Sometimes that had to be my answer. “No, you may not wear that.” I’m the Dad, not the friend or personal shopper. Someone needs to tell the truth. What do I think? Next…
- That I think you are beautiful. Oh, sweet girls, you are so beautiful to me. I’ve worked with teenage girls, college students, and adults for over 20 years. I’ve never met a girl who thought she was pretty. I’ve met girls who were insecure and tried to cover it, but I’ve never met a girl who was just humbly happy with how God had made her. Oh, sweet girls, you are so beautiful to me.
- That I want to help you make wise choices about modesty. What you wear communicates something about you. I want to instill values in you now that will carry you into adulthood that honor Jesus and you. What do I think? I’m wondering if I’m doing this in a way that will be lasting or just getting you to comply with my wishes.
- That I want you to stop growing up so fast. I think I said that already.
- That I’m sorry we live in a world that objectifies women. Every woman that is oogled on a screen, plastered across a magazine or billboard, or photoshopped into something unrecognizable is someone’s little girl. I’m so sorry that is the world in which we live. It was not meant to be this way, but sin has wrecked it. Oh, but there’s coming a day when all that will be fixed by our King. What am I thinking? Come, Lord Jesus!
- That I never want you to struggle with body image issues. I don’t know how to protect you from this, but oh, how I want it to be so. I don’t want you to fall prey to this enslaving, ever-present evil. I want you to be healthy and make wise choices, but the images you could compare yourself to are illusions.
- That I’m sorry clothes are made by people who have different values. Companies exist to make money and it seems that the larger market share is found in families with values that are different from ours. So, we’ll need to keep looking to find shorts that are long enough to cover the pockets.
- That I want to protect you now and prepare you for later. There is coming a time when I won’t have any say in your choices about your clothes. You’ll have your own money and make your own choices. Oh, girls, I hope I’m preparing you for the future.
- That I never want to forget moments like this. The little babies I held are growing up far too quickly. These moments will be fleeting. Oh, God, let these sweet cute moments be forever imprinted on my brain and heart.
While my mind is still spinning about all the different permutations to an increasingly complex and important question, I hear a tender, yet insistent voice…
“Daddy, I asked you, ‘What do you think?’”
“Sweetie, I think you are my precious girl. I love you. It looks great.”
“Are we almost finished?”
“No, I just have a few more things…”
“I think we need to discuss your definition of the word ‘few’. I’ll be out here.”
Waiting on the next fashion show, I joined the boys in the waiting corner. They played Minecraft. I found something on the internet to pass the time. What am I really thinking? Where’s the coffee?