Dads, Daughters, and the New Rules of Engagement

I remember my first trip home from college.   My hometown was at that time a small community; the college I attended was in one of the most populated cities in the country.   I quickly grew acclimated to the speed of my new life and loved the freedom of being able to come and go when I pleased.   Then I came home for the holidays–home to my mom and my very protective father.    My father had his own set of rules about when I should come and go, which basically meant that I had to be in the house before dark.  Do you know how early dark comes in winter?   Needless to say, I spent much of my time at home as mad as a wet hen (Southern expression) and figuring out how to cut my visits short.

Fast-forwarding almost 30 years, we now have a house in which one child recently became a young adult.   It is a season of our lives that is tricky to navigate because there are new rules–or are there?   Our first realization of this new season was when our daughter went out with a friend and didn’t text us with a periodic check-in (a household standard while she was in high school).    I reminded her that we still have a need to be sure that she is safe.   Too much happens to have no clue as to how we might find her in case of an emergency.   When she later asked about going out of town for the day with a friend via the Megabus, her father sounded much like my father.   I suppose men are men wherever you go.   Anyway, my husband and I had an extended conversation–if we can’t trust her out of town for a day, why send her hours away when we can’t see her at all?   And what punched my husband square in the face left me with only a mild slap: our little girl is no more.

At the end of the day, we didn’t let her go out of town; perhaps we lived in fear for a moment, but we chose not to run the many risks of events gone wrong three days before we leave to take her to college.    And yes, she does still check in with us while away.    What can I say?   You live in our home, you play by our rules.   But we know that the days of a simple “yes” and “no” as a determinant of where and how she spends her time are numbered.   So the best we can do is to remind her of some facts.

God has a plan for her life (Jeremiah 29:11), and she has a plan for her life (Proverbs 16).

She must remember who she is and whose she is (Deuteronomy 28, Psalms 139).

As recently as today we had another of those extended conversations about a number of young ladies around her who’ve had plans.   Maybe those plans got lost amidst the passions of the moment.   Maybe the young ladies didn’t set high enough expectations for themselves versus the world that surrounded them.   Maybe they put too much confidence in flesh.   My job is not to judge them.  I do know that in any case, their lives are now very different than they planned, and their plans going awry impacted the plans of everyone around them.

So that was our conversation, if only for my peace of mind and in the hope that her father’s and my plans aren’t modified because she forgot something.   We continue to pray, and I’d bet that when the holidays come, we’ll wait up and look to our phones for a periodic check-in.   In fact, we will probably do that all semester long.

But, I still say being in the house before dark in winter is too early.       🙂

Love you, Dad.   Rest in peace.


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