Rites of Passage for Your Daughter
The conversation with the group of young women that day had been one of excitement and laughter as they planned the upcoming special Night of Celebration. Each girl's family would join in a special rite-of-passage ceremony that would culminate with each princess's father reading a personalized blessing over his daughter. However, after the meeting, one princess was not as excited as the rest of the girls, so I [Doreen] initiated a conversation with her.
Darla shrugged her shoulders with frustration as I asked if she would please reconsider asking her father to impart her blessing at the ceremony before she asked her youth pastor. With exasperation she began to blurt out her reasons for not wanting to give her father this privilege: "He spends all his time on that dumb computer! I can tell my parents are not happy. I feel like they might be talking about divorce. I wish he'd spend time with me. I know he used to be a Christian because he used to go to church. I hate being at home. I look for something to do every day just to be away from there."
It was evident that the power of her parents' words — talk of divorce, as well as a lack of loving words — had begun to kill hope in Darla's heart.
My heart grieved for her, knowing also that at just 13 years of age she was already dealing with depression. However, I spoke quickly, reminding her that this might be an opportunity to hear her father publicly say things she never thought he knew or noticed about her. I told her that this would be a day she would remember for the rest of her life and, if possible, it would be best remembered with her father.
Lastly, I asked her if she would allow him this opportunity. She begrudgingly agreed and said she'd let me know of his decision within the next few days. The following day, she called.
"Mrs. Hanna, this is Darla." (Long pause.) "Well, he said yes."
Her tone of voice reflected an irritated disappointment that he had agreed to participate. However, she changed the subject and with excitement told me of the dress a girlfriend was going to let her borrow and how she was looking forward to celebrating with some of her friends.
After we hung up, I called and spoke with Darla's dad, Rick. I explained what he needed to do to prepare to impart her blessing. I sensed sincerity in Rick's voice and felt assured that God was at work.
The night of the ceremony I happened to be standing at the front of the church when Darla and Rick arrived early. As she stepped out of the car, she looked radiant in her beautiful navy blue formal. She ran to find the other girls who were applying their last touches of mascara, lip gloss or blush. All of them were complimenting and helping each other. In the meantime, Rick had searched and found a parking place, then rushed in asking where he was to sit. I saw that he had a yellow pad of paper in hand. The moment he sat down, it was evident he was still jotting down notes in preparation for Darla's blessing.
The evening moved along smoothly and I soon found myself introducing Darla and Rick. They stepped forward, taking their respective places at the podium. Then Darla folded her arms across her midriff and looked over the heads of the audience. It was so obvious that she was still not happy to be sharing her special moment with her father.
Rick began speaking his blessing with a tone in his voice that reflected tenderness. As Rick's endearing words poured out, Darla's arms soon dropped to her side and she looked directly into her father's eyes. His words were warm, loving and sincere, bringing life back into Darla's heart. It was evident he truly loved Darla and recognized the importance of this opportunity with his daughter. Darla's eyes filled with tears and a smile brightened her countenance. Rick, with great delight in his eyes, crowned her with her tiara. Then Darla hugged him warmly. You could hear the sniffles of joy in the audience!
As this celebration came to a close and we headed to the reception, I overheard someone affirming Rick, complimenting him for the powerful words he had spoken into Darla's life.
The Fruit Continues
Within a couple of weeks after the celebration, I was more than delighted to see Darla's parents in church together! Several more weeks passed and I saw Darla's family of five all sitting together on a Sunday morning. I found Darla after church and asked her what had transpired, as I had never seen her dad in church prior to these two occasions.
She excitedly began to share how life had been changing in their home since her celebration. Her dad was no longer spending hours on the computer. She could tell that he and her mother were actually being nicer to each other. And she was thrilled that now her family was going to church together.
I called Darla a year later and asked her to speak at an event to raise money, allowing more girls to experience the joy of being a Modern-Day Princess regardless of their economic background. The evening of the fund-raiser arrived and soon she was sharing about her Night of Celebration. She stated that she had heard things from her dad that she never thought he had even noticed or cared about. With tears of joy she shared of her parents' reconciliation. Home was a place where she used to find any excuse to leave. Within months after the ceremony, she was happy to come home and actually liked staying there — it had become a place of refuge (her exact words).
Her excitement shone as she shared that "Dad has taken me out for coffee several times just to talk — it's a miracle. He has even said that he will support me when I go on a mission trip!" she exclaimed.
What a blessing for me to have seen God work so mightily because of a young girl's act of obedience and a father's choice to verbally bless his daughter. Rick's willingness to accept God's call to be the priest of his household and to publicly speak words of blessing upon Darla brought him to a place of reconciliation with Darla, his wife, his two other daughters and — of greater importance — Jesus Christ.
As we have just seen how the power of Rick's words changed his daughter's heart, remember that the power of your words as a mother, daughter, mentor, father, friend or whatever your position in life, is influencing the lives of others. And while not every situation will mirror Darla's, we can count on God's words to be a "power of life" (Proverbs 18:21); and with our words we will affect the lives of those around us as we speak blessings, not curses, into their lives.
You may be thinking that you've already blown it with your daughter. You've said things you regret. Let me encourage you: Today is a new day. Start fresh and commit to speaking words of truth and blessing into your daughter's life. Your daughter may be hesitant to receive your words at first, but with consistency and perseverance, you can show her that she can trust you to be careful with your words. And by this, you become a model for your daughter to speak righteously to others.
Excerpted and adapted from Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna's book Raising a Modern-Day Princess, a Focus on the Family book. Copyright © 2009, Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.