Greetings, Gentle Reader:

To fathers, wherever you may be: You are your daughters’ prototype of Heavenly Father and our Savior. They cannot see the Savior, but they can see you. They will judge Him by your actions, by your integrity, by your very character. If you fail them and Him, they will fail both you and Him. That is, admittedly, a heavy load, in fact, a heavy eternal assignment, but it is the assignment you shouldered the day you became the father of a brand new little girl. Your task? Don’t moan. Don’t cry or try to escape your responsibility. Just cowboy-up and be a real man. Get the job done! Be your little girls’ example of what they can expect from their loving Savior, Who actually will require much of them during their mortal life.

Did that all sound pretty cold? Sorry, but let me tell you why it’s true: Because of family circumstances, my father was in many ways my mother. By that I mean he "mothered" me each day, when he came home from work. So, perhaps, my understanding of the importance of the relationship between fathers and their little girls is more keen than would otherwise be the case. I judged Heavenly Father’s and my Savior’s love by my father’s love. Your girls will do likewise.

Dad, your little girls hero-worship you, and they will do so all your life, unless you behave in a manner that will destroy your stature in their eyes. They will eagerly trust you with their confidences, with their inadequacies, with their fears, even their very lives. They will run to you for protection, when they are in danger. You will be their pattern of manhood, when it comes time to choose a husband.

It has been said that boys marry their "mothers" and girls marry their "fathers." There is great truth to that statement. You are what men should be in your little girls’ eyes. If you are harsh in your fathering, and as a husband, they will very likely marry a harsh man, who may be brutally harsh as both a husband and father. If you are kind, but inconsequential, they stand a good chance of marrying a man too weak and too uninvolved to be a responsible husband and father. Either way, you will have established and validated their pattern of manhood, and you cannot escape that reality, nor that responsibility.

So, what is your duty? Simple. Be a man, a kind but responsible man. Be an example in your behavior, in your goals, in your dreams. You will either teach them to be strong and to have fortitude, or your will teach them to be weak and cowardly. You will either teach them to be responsible and determined in the face of adversity, or you will teach them to run from responsibility and to behave cravenly when life gets very tough, and life almost always gets very tough at one time or another.

In short, father, be the man your Heavenly Father and your Savior want you to be. If you do that to the very best of your ability, knowing that from time to time you will fall short, you will be worthy of your little girls’ hero-worship. That’s the best that can be expected of you.

One final admonition: Follow the Prophet, whichever Prophet that may be. In that you cannot fail. You will be teaching your children behavior from the finest patterns available to fallen, imperfect, humans on this fallen, imperfect Earth. If you do that, you will be able to stand before your Savior with confidence at the last day.

Surely, that is all that can be expected of any man.

Return to the Neighborhood.

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