To my teenage princess,
As usual, I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. And so, here’s one of those “Dad” letters that I hope makes sense.
Life’s full of valuable lessons for teenagers, so here are a few reminders:
What makes you beautiful is your existence, not your perfection.
You’re probably beginning to feel a lot of pressure to look and act a certain way. Throughout the next few years you’re going to be bombarded with messages of what your face, your body, your clothes, and your hair should look like. Most of these messages are unrealistic. What you see in magazines isn’t real. And even if it was and everybody looked that way, it’s not the outside that makes a person beautiful. You possess immeasurable worth and value because of this one fact – you exist. You’re a person made in God’s image. And that fact, all by itself, qualifies you as beautiful.
As hard as sometimes this may be to believe, you don’t have to add something to yourself to reach acceptable. You’re already way beyond that mark.
The way I treat your mother is the way I want a guy to treat you.
I’m an imperfect dad. But you probably already know that. I’m also an imperfect husband to mom, but despite my occasional shortcomings, here are some things I want you to know.
When we go through tough times, I’m not bailing out on your mother. Ever. I want you to know this deep down. The ring I have on, stays on. Forever.
One of my goals is for you to date and marry someone like me. And it’s not because I’m the perfect guy, not by a long shot. But I am trying to model for you, in how I relate and interact with your mom, how a man should treat and respect a woman. All those things I said about your immeasurable worth? Before you arrived on the scene, they were, and still are, true about your mom. So part of my role as a husband is to treat your mom in such a way that reinforces all those things.
If there are times that I don’t treat your mom the way she should be treated, you can call my hand on it. It’s that important. You deserve to see a living example of what your future marriage should be like.
And whenever a guy starts to pay attention to you, I want you to compare him to me. If I’ve done my job well, that’ll happen naturally. And just so you know, I’ll be watching for how he treats you, too. I’m not going to be unfair, but I do hold veto rights. You’re worth too much for me not to be involved in the process.
Your sexuality is an amazing gift God’s given you. So save it.
Remember that 5th grade Parents’ Meeting your mom and I went to where we discovered and discussed with your teacher what you and your classmates would be learning about in school regarding sex? Yep, chalk that up as a punch-in-the-gut kinda day. My baby (you) were learning in school what we had already talked about at home. Time’s gone by way too quickly.
Here’s what I want you to know. I believe you’re going to make the right decisions when it comes to your sexuality. That’s because I trust you and I trust the lessons we’re teaching you. Your sexuality is one of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring gifts God has given you. It’s fantastic, exciting, and truly one of the most enjoyable aspects of life. And in his genius, God loves each of us so much he’s given us a plan that gives us the greatest enjoyment of this gift – it’s called marriage. With the foundation of your life commitment to one another, you and your husband will get to discover, understand and enjoy together this amazing part of life.
Sex is a big deal. And as with most big issues, you’re going to hear a lot about sex in the society and culture in which we live. And the fact is, honoring and guarding this area of your life is likely to be neither an expectation of many people, or reinforced as normal. Don’t let that bother you, though. Things valued and held dear are protected (kinda like how I view you). Popularity is a really bad trade for peace of mind. Trust me. Knowing you’re safe, emotionally intact, and sexually whole is a really good feeling.
We’re not going to blast anyone who thinks differently about this. We’re just not going to follow their lead. Being unique looks better on you.
Life’s not always fair and some questions aren’t going to have easy answers.
Here’s fair warning – sometimes things are going to happen in your life that are difficult to understand. And answers that you really want, are going to be hard to find. In fact, there are some things you may never figure out.
Believe me, I really wish I could leave this one off the list. Because when you hurt, I hurt. When you’re confused, I’m sad. Believe me, one day you’ll understand the whole “if-I-could-trade-places-with-you-I-would” deal. Until that time comes, don’t give up when the answers don’t come. Sometimes unanswered questions produce something in us that easy solutions can never bring.
Trust, resolve, patience, courage… those are pretty good trade-offs if some of your questions hang around.
I love you, no matter what.
There will never be any moment, of any minute, of any hour, of any day, of any part of your entire life where I will not love you with all my heart.
Nothing will ever change this. Period. No exceptions. Forever.
I love you, my teenage princess.