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Dads Playbook Podcast with NFL quarterback, Mark Brunell. Week 3: Fathering Daughters

Welcome to the third installment of our 10-week podcast series, Dads Playbook featuring NFL quarterback, Mark Brunell.

This week, NFI president Roland C. Warren sits down with Mark to talk about raising daughters.

Since boys and girls are different, being a father to them presents different challenges and opportunities. Mark, a father of three boys and one girl, has some great advice for being a great dad to your daughter (next week, we’ll hear what he has to say about raising sons).

Click here to download the podcast on Mark’s game plan for being an All-Star Dad when it comes to raising daughters.

In my world, what it means to “Be A Dad”

Clearly, I’m not a dad, nor will I ever know what it’s like to be one. However, I do happen to know what it feels like when a dad takes time to “Be a Dad” to his daughter. Let me share what I mean.

My dad was always there for me, through good times and bad. And through all the trouble I got in, again and again during my teenage years, he was still there, being a dad.

While he bailed me out of my fare share of “pickles” he always made it a point to remind me of his expectations with love. So, at times, amidst what may have seemed like letting me get away with something, a lesson was learned. A challenge was always given for me to "show myself trustworthy," and I would be trusted. If I kept demonstrating the same poor behavior, trust could not be built. And it was through trust, that he would be willing to give me more responsibility in the future.

I believe it was these key learning moments as I was growing up that impacted me most. I’m older and married now, and my dad is still there for me, being a dad, helping and encouraging me when needed.

I can’t help but wonder if he and I could have rebuilt trust – and more importantly, if rebuilding trust would have been as important to me – had he not handled those teachable moments the way he did.

Thus, I encourage all dads to Be a Dad even through life’s ups and downs. But most importantly, Be a Dad who makes the downs count.

Are You Trying to Rob Your Kids?

This month’s focus at NFI is “Dad Cents,” and our plan is to give dads sound advice about ways that dads can improve their kids’ financial literacy.

Since I worked in banking, this area is near and dear to my heart. Indeed, I often use financial lingo when I am discussing fatherhood principles. For example, I talk about how important it is to “invest” in your child’s life and how critical it is for dads to make regular, substantial, and consistent “deposits” in their children’s relationship “bank accounts.” After all, chances are that one day – like when a daughter wants to date a junior member of the Hell’s Angels or a son wants to tattoo the name of his most recent girlfriend across his forehead – you may have to make a huge withdrawal. Frankly, if you have not made these deposits, the conversation could sound something like this…

(Scene—You rush into the lobby of the 'First National Bank of Your 15-year-old Daughter’s Heart' and quickly approach her window.)

Your Daughter: Good afternoon. How may I help you?
You: Hi. I need make a big withdrawal fast!
Your Daughter: Ok, sir. No problem. Could you please let me see some ID?
You: Sure.
(You hand her a copy of her birth certificate where you are listed as “Father.”)
Your Daughter: Everything looks in order, Dad. Please wait just a minute while I check your account.
(She turns away from you but then gets a strange look on her face.)
You: Is there a problem?
Your Daughter: Yes, sort of. I clearly see that you opened an account here a long time ago, but it doesn’t appear to have a sufficient balance for you to make a big withdrawal. When was the last time that you made a deposit?
You: Well, I don’t remember. I guess it’s been a while. You know, I have been very busy working and stuff like that. But, my wife has been making lots of deposits. Seems like every time I turn around she is heading here. Since we are married, can’t I just make a withdrawal from her account?
Your Daughter: Dad, no you can’t because we don’t offer joint accounts here.
You: Oh yeah…That’s right…I remember hearing that. What about a loan? Can I get one of those?
Your Daughter: I’m sorry…We don’t offer loans either. You can only withdraw what you have deposited.
(You start to get a bit upset…)
You: Well that just doesn’t seem fair! I clearly have an account. And, well, I need to make a withdrawal. Can’t you make an exception? After all, I am DAD.
Your Daughter: Dad. I am sorry. I just can’t help you...
(You are becoming more upset…)
You: Well, doggone it, I am not going to take no for answer.
(Your daughter gets a concerned and stern look on her face and you can see her reaching under the counter to push the button for security.)
Your Daughter: As I said, I can’t help you. You knew the rules when you opened the account. How can you expect to withdraw funds that you didn’t deposit? That’s just not the way it works here. All you had to do was make consistent deposits. Even small ones would have been fine because “interest”—your interest—would have compounded these deposits substantially over time. Taking deposits that don’t belong to you is, well, robbery. So, I need to ask you to leave now. Or, do I need to call security?

A Dad's Lesson: The Price of Fame

There is a verse from the Bible that says, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” I was reminded of the wisdom of these words recently after reading this Billy Ray Cyrus GQ interview where he shared his regret about how he has been raising Miley Cyrus.

Ironically, several weeks ago, I wrote “For Father's of Older Children—No Time for an Achy Breaky Heart” when the report came out about Miley doing bong hits of salvia at her 18th birthday party. Recently, I have found a few blog posts like this one from Jim Daly of Focus on the Family and this one by Melissa May for “Modestly Yours” to be quite compelling as well.

In any case, Billy Ray’s regret is a poignant reminder of how critical it is for all fathers to protect their children. Indeed, many will come along to sell our children the “whole world.” But, as Billy Ray unfortunately discovered too late, the price is just too high.

Your Princess and Kissing Those Darn Frogs

I just finished reading a book called “A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue” by Wendy Shalit. Although the book was written in 1999, its wisdom is timeless. Indeed, it is quite remarkable to watch Shalit skillfully illustrate the troubling cultural messages being communicated to girls and young women about their bodies, sexuality and femininity. This book is still a must-read.

In any case, the book has caused me to think quite a bit about the role that fathers should play in protecting the innocence of their daughters and in helping them develop a healthy, resilient and positive self-image--a tall order indeed in a culture that increasingly seeks to sexualize our little girls. (We now have retailers that are making thong underwear for 11 year-olds and skinny jeans for toddlers.) My view has always been that a father’s role is to help his princess find her “prince” (i.e. her self worth) without “kissing all the frogs.” For sure, today the frogs are more plentiful and aggressive in their call…And the stakes are higher than ever and the consequences of poor decisions can be long lasting and quite dire.

A case in point is the recent situation that actor Lawrence Fishburne (Mystic River, The Matrix) faced with his 19 year-old daughter, Montana. She agreed to star in a pornographic video to help her become famous. She stated, "I view making this movie as an important first step in my career. I've watched how successful Kim Kardashian became and I think a lot of it was due to the release of her sex tape. I'm hoping the same magic will work for me.”

Clearly, Fishburne was not happy with this situation but Montana wouldn’t listen to him. In fact, to block the release of the video, Fishburne’s friends even offered the film producer what he apparently considered too “modest a sum” -- $1M for all of the copies. The producer distributed the film and it reportedly sold so well that he offered Montana a multi-picture deal.

Granted, Fishburne’s situation is somewhat unique but you have to wonder why a daughter whose dad is an accomplished actor would choose this route to fame. But, the script of Montana’s life is a familiar screenplay with a predictable narrative. It’s worth noting that Fishburne and his daughter’s mother divorced when Montana was very young. You have to wonder if he was "on location" when Montana was a little girl making the critical decision whether to embrace or reject the immodest “Kardashian type” messages and values celebrated daily in our culture. All dads should be mindful that if you “exit stage right” from your daughter’s life, you are bound to miss important “cues.”

Ironically, frogs can be quite alluring and very deceptive. But, outside of fairy tales, there is no “magic” in them. And, that’s why our daughters need involved fathers who have built strong enough relationships with them so that they will listen when he says “be careful what you wish and what you kiss.”

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