Wednesday, July 6, 2011
My youngest daughter is now 15 months old. Though it's been fun to share all her adorable moments with you guys via Facebook, my thoughts often turn to more serious pursuits. As the father of a 17-year-old daughter and now my youngest little girl, I try to exert as much influence as I can. Fathers are often the first real male influence girls recognize so it's important that I help them understand how a proper gentleman is supposed to treat a lady.
My oldest has begun dating and even claims to have a boyfriend. The idea makes me physically ill, but the Queen has convinced me to swallow that bitter pill. I'm not so much concerned with the obvious worries. Yes, we've had "the talk"—several times. I trust her. But I don't trust what has become an all too frequent occurrence in today's society: young ladies so concerned with keeping "him" that they accept unacceptable behavior, i.e., physical or mental abuse. And in the case of my oldest daughter dating a football player, my concerns are always magnified.
First loves are drama-filled times. I've already wiped tears, been a comforting shoulder and a stern parent. I can only hope that I've set enough of an example and made enough of an impact to let her know immediately that a man putting his hands on her is a "zero-tolerance" zone, aka grounds for immediate dismissal with a "no return" policy.
Hopefully, she has seen how I treat the Queen. Hopefully, she knows that women are to be worshipped and respected as equals. You know, chivalry: doors opened, seats pulled out and so forth. I've told her that if a guy doesn't do that, drop him.
In another decade or so, I'll need my oldest to be the role model for my little one. She'll be looking to her big sister for tips on make-up, hair and (ugh) boys.
I hope then that she will hear the do's and dont's. I hope she hears the telltale signs of physical and verbal abuse. Even after the most hands-on parenting, you can only pray that your kids put those teachings into practice. It's not an exact science. I've seen the strictest, most loving homes produce an abuse victim, or worse yet, an abuser. Love, or what one thinks is love, will make men and women do crazy things.
I grew up in a household where I saw a father who loved and respected my mother. He rarely raised his voice to her. I went from that to meeting the love of my life and finding out she was a victim, a victim who is just getting over those demons she carried with her for years.
Queen has come a long way. From that darkness, she has emerged as an inspiration to other women in similar situations. She has become the activist that her father was and the rock of our household. I've finally found someone even I have trouble keeping up with. What better vision of womanhood can my two girls learn from?
As I always do during Chick Ball time, I honor Funmi Franklin as a "Chick I Love." You should be held up by JFP and the city as a prominent survivor. I also honor my mother, Mary Franklin, and my two girls, Brandi and Bralynn.
Here's to you, ladies, for knowing how a woman should be treated. And here's to all of you for making me a better man.
And that's the truth ... sho-nuff.
How cathartic is this? :)