“Sugar and spice and everything nice; that’s what girls are made of!” If you’ve ever heard this poem (song) spoken aloud, you should have a pretty good understanding of the fundamental difference between the nature of girls vs. the nature of boys. The other verse gets into some pretty harsh things about little boys that I won’t bother to drudge up for purposes of our discussion today.
The very existence of this song, and many others like it, serve as crystal clear reminders of the delicate nature of little girls. These lyrics are indicators of how society seeks to shelter and protect our girls until they are considered old enough to stand up for themselves. Today this attitude may be viewed as sexist or discriminatory or even offensive to some women.
But let’s be clear; we are not talking about WOMEN right now, we are talking about little girls – little girls who sometimes don’t understand that there are many, many people who have very ill intent and very bad thoughts. To be sure that we are all thinking on the same wavelength, the protection mentioned above is also the same protection and shelter parents apply to little boys to keep them safe from the cruelties of the world.
As our precious little princesses become young women and then on to ladies, it becomes more and more obvious how much is gained (or lost) by the presence of a healthy relationship; particularly how much influence “Dad” has on his baby girl. (Ladies - Mom/Grandma/Aunts please give me a little leeway here for a second). It is widely accepted that dad’s absence has an enormous effect on little boys and young men. Less spoken of or even less acknowledged is the manner in which women of all ages, spend years hoping to replace daddy’s lost love.
Much has been said about the “lost generation”, the number of boys who become men behind prison bars, the increasing number of teenage girls who become mothers and the sad number of teenage boys who walk away from newborn babies or pregnant girlfriends. Unfortunately, the source of most, if not all, of these current family failures can be traced to the fading away of the father and the faltering of the family.
For clarity’s sake, this is not about blame or pointing an accusing finger! This is an attempt to increase our awareness of the ripple effect created when dad is removed from the family picture.
When mom & dad are together in a HEALTHY relationship, dad’s presence is more than just a top-shelf retriever or “stuck lid” opener. Dad is more than the muscle, a wrestling partner, remote control hog or fix-it man. Dad’s role in a healthy relationship is to provide a living, breathing example of how a man should treat a woman. Dads who open doors, give compliments, give hugs and say “I Love You” provide a legacy of how men are supposed to act. (Dad you can do all of those things and still be the disciplinarian – just in case you didn’t realize that.)
Dads model the behavior that boys are expected to learn; and they do learn from dad. But more importantly, by virtue of the way dads treat moms, dads create a pattern of what little girls expect or what young ladies actually accept from young men. Fathers who aren’t afraid to show gentleness to their wives and daughters set the “relationship bar” really high. Dads who model the man’s role in a healthy relationship are less likely to have daughters who get involved with the neighborhood “bad boy”. Their daughters are far less likely to stay in an abusive relationship because they think that’s how you show love. Little girls who grow up in the household with a healthy “mom & dad” relationship less frequently become teenage mothers.
The endearing qualities of “good dads” become the qualities that young women seek in their partners. Remember that dad’s original role was that of protector and shelter. Those characteristics and things that dad’s do under the watchful supervision of the baby boy or baby girl, go a long way in shaping the child’s perception of what every man is supposed to be. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. The negative flaws also go a long way in shaping the child’s perception of what every man is supposed to be. Dad’s role will always be to protect his little princess, even when the “little princess” is old enough to drive the family car to her first part-time job. Dad will protect his little princess until she becomes someone else’s queen. And, even then, Dad’s shadow will be ever-present.
Young lady, don’t think too harshly of dear old dad. Yes, he is over-protective, smothering and sometimes he doesn’t hear the whole story – BUT, he see’s the big picture. Only, in his picture, you are still small enough for him to hold in one hand while he reaches up to the top shelf to get the sugar that mom can’t reach.
Be Young! Have Fun!
Columnist Chris Dinkins is an educator and native South Carolinian. His viewpoint is based on personal, classroom and volunteer experiences. Send questions and comments about youth related issues to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.