A Father's Day Q&A With Author and Dad, Michael Farris
- Thursday, June 10, 2004
Today's father may feel disconnected or helpless in his efforts to positively impact the life of his daughter when presented with the overwhelming amount of negative cultural influences geared towards his little girl. How can dads find clarity and strength in fulfilling their God-given role? In What A Daughter Needs from Her Dad, author Michael Farris offers Christian dads guidance on the "big issues" of fathering -- such as spiritual leadership -- as well as the everyday concerns unique to raising a daughter.
Not only does Farris have a distinguished career as a constitutional lawyer, the president of Patrick Henry College, and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, he and his wife Vickie are blessed with six daughters and four sons. Speaking from a wealth of personal and professional experience, Farris shares insights on fatherhood today with Crosswalk readers. Read on.
Crosswalk: What events or experiences inspired you to write What A Daughter Needs from Her Dad?
Farris: Of the eleven books I have written, this is the only one that I was asked to write. A friend of ours is a book editor. He was looking for a book on dads and daughters and our daughters babysat for his family. He thought we had done a good job with our girls and approached me with the idea for the book based on his knowledge of our older girls.
Crosswalk: It's easy for most of us to recognize the importance of the mother-daughter bond. What is so important and irreplaceable about the role of a father when it comes to raising daughters?
Farris: The most important issue is that our children get their first understanding of God our heavenly father from their relationship with their own earthly father. Being a good father helps our children understand the goodness of God.
Moreover, analysis of every social ill of our time demonstrates that anti-social behavior is the predictable outcome of children who lead fatherless lives. Children need fathers to develop a balance that is essential to stability and long-term emotional health.
Crosswalk: Could you briefly describe for us what a healthy father-daughter relationship might look like?
Farris: I think the most important aspect of any relationship is communication -- which just means talking and listening. Dads are good on talking and tend to be a bit more "listening-challenged". In the book, I describe the need for a dad to listen and keep listening before answering. Men have such a tendency to want to "get to the bottom line" that an opportunity to build your relationship is missed by hurried conversation. Our daughters need our ears more than they need our quick answers.
Crosswalk: In your experience of working with parents, what do you think are the top struggles today's fathers experience, especially when it comes to raising daughters?
Farris: The number one struggle is time. We have all heard of the "One Minute Manager" and many try to cram so much in their lives that they want to become the "one minute father." That simply will not work. Another myth is the idea of quality time being a substitute for quantity time. Our children do need quality time-lots of it.
Crosswalk: Where do you think these struggles come from, and how might they be overcome?
Farris: My answer to this struggle -- and it is a real struggle for me -- comes in my answer to your next question.
Crosswalk: You've had a distinguished career as president of Patrick Henry College, a constitutional lawyer, and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. How do you balance your career with being an involved dad of ten children ?
Farris: I have really struggled in this area. But I think that I have largely succeeded based on one very important rule-I keep my wife happy.
Vickie is very quick to notice when I am not spending enough time with the kids in general or with a particular child. She has no hesitation in telling me when she thinks I need to clear my schedule and spend some time with them. Everyone experiences a short period -- like a week or two -- when pressing duties at work simply preclude a lot of interaction. But if theses period are sustained or happen every other week, you have a problem and need to make changes.
Crosswalk: How does your faith play into your role as a father?
Farris: My faith in Jesus Christ is central to everything in my life including my role as a dad. I wouldn't have ten children but for my faith. My wife pointed out that Scripture teaches that children are a blessing from the Lord. Every reason I had to want to limit my family size boiled down to a conclusion that children are not a blessing from the Lord. I was simply not willing to call God a liar on the point, and He has blessed us with ten children as a result.
Second, my most important duty that I have toward my children is to transmit my faith to them. If they see that I truly believe in God in the way that I live, this will validate any teaching that I give them. It is impossible to fake Christianity to your children.
Crosswalk: In your book you discuss the feminist movement and the effect it's had on this generation of daughters. Could you briefly discuss ways a father can help his daughter fight some of the misconceptions spread by the feminist movement?
Farris: Feminism feeds on broken hearts and broken lives. The number one thing that a dad can do to keep his daughter from being successfully wooed by the feminist movement is to love his wife and to honor her role in a very visible way. If a girl sees her mother loved and valued, the feminist arguments that men are irrelevant and that women are no different from men falls on unreceptive soil.
Crosswalk: What advice would you give to new dads this Father's Day - especially dads with brand new daughters?
Farris: I know this sounds self-serving, but, read my book. Men have a bad reputation as readers. We will watch television for hours but will go for sustained periods without reading a book. It would be a good thing to have your children see you reading any book -- that will teach them that books are valuable. Moreover, if your daughter sees you reading a book to help you improve your relationship with her, you will tell her in a clear way that the relationship is valuable.
The other thing is that all the significant leaders I know are readers. You are called to lead your family. Read. It is a great way to be a good leader.
For more information on Michael Farris's What a Daughter Needs From Her Dad visit Bethany House Publishers.
Click here to read an excerpt of this book.
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