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Father's Day and Beyond: Raising Brave Girls

Author: Andy Drozdziak

Picture: Colin Bowern, Flickr

Father's Day and Beyond: Raising Brave Girls

Andy Drozdziak highlights the call for Dads to encourage a sense of adventure in their children-especially girls.

I was recently challenged in my cautious parenting approach towards my daughters after hearing Caroline Paul's TED talk, entitled “To raise brave girls, encourage adventure."

The premise of Caroline's message, who describes herself as a “firefighter, paraglider and all-around adventurer”, is this: confident, brave women are formed when girls are encouraged to take productive risks.

They benefit from being affirmed by parents and carers when they climb trees, clamber around, fall down, scrape their knees and get right back up. You can hear her talk below: 

As a parent of two girls and a boy, I often encourage my 10 year old son, Ben, to push himself, to go beyond his comfort zone and take risks.

However, the same is not true of my two girls, especially 6 year old Frankie. Frankie is a real adventurer, who loves climbing, building and running around.

Caroline’s talk made me aware that my first response is to caution her and tell her to be careful.

A Cautious Approach

Even today, as Frankie got stuck in to a lively game of football with Ben, I heard myself calling out “Watch out!” and “Be careful!” to her-but not to Ben. My first response is cautioning my daughters much more than cautioning my son.

The harsh truth is this: my cautious approach is communicating to the girls that I do not believe they are capable of adventure. This can be tremendously discouraging.

In the Scriptures, God calls both women and men to heroic actions and trust in harrowing circumstances. He calls them to live “free from fear”, regardless of age or social status.

Mary was encouraged to “not be afraid” when she received the call to give birth to Jesus and change history-even though her risky “yes” meant public disgrace and the possibility of being stoned to death.

God-Given Potential

At a small aviary I recently visited, I noticed the birds’ flying was restricted and limited. A low roof prevented them from achieving any real height or distance, forcing them to to either slow down or stop altogether.

They were unable to realise their potential and do what they are born to do: fly. Was my over-cautious approach towards my daughters having the same effect and preventing them from “flying”, from fulfilling their God-given potential?

I have committed to being less cautious. When parking the car in our driveway, I have sometimes allowed Ben to drive with me. Tonight, I challenged myself and, for the first time, allowed Frankie to do this instead.

Frankie loved sitting up front with me and driving. I allowed her to do something a little risky-not much, I know, but a step in the right direction and a small way of encouraging a sense of adventure in her.

Take Risks!

I do not want my daughters to grow up scared.  

In the Scriptures, Jesus’ calls are often risky and challenge his listeners to great faith, great adventures and an abundant life: “Take nothing for your journey….Put out into the deep…Come and see…”.  

When we say “yes”, our loving Father blesses our step of faith and promises to be with us always.

He is the perfect Dad, the one who knows us, loves us and wants each one of us to reach our potential. He whispers to our hearts: "I have loved you with an everlasting love." (Jeremiah 31:3)

This Father’s Day, my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will inspire me to be a Dad who encourages my brilliant children-including the girls- to take risks, to experience the exhilaration of embracing fresh challenges and enjoy the fulness of life God offers. 

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