I am a Father. I have six children who call me Daddy. It is one of the greatest joys of my life. Some days I’m good at it. Other days…not so good. I continue the daily journey, bumbling toward becoming a better man, father and husband.
Last year I saw a documentary called Very Young Girls, made by GEMS, one of my favorite organizations working to end the exploitation and trafficking of girls.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the film was seeing pimps recruiting and coercing young girls by pretending to initially take on the role of a boyfriend or worse…a father.
So many children have never known the love of a good father. Some have been hurt, abused, or abandoned by a father, while others continue to live with a father who is not really there.
Capitalizing on vulnerability, pimps and traffickers move right into that vacant place, even insisting at times, to be called “Daddy.” Luring girls with promises of “I’ll protect you.” “I’ll provide for you.”etc. And saying things that a real father was supposed to say but never did, like; “You’re special.” “You’re beautiful…”
While watching the documentary, I began to seethe inside. Through clenched teeth, I was saying under my breath; ”You are not a Daddy!” “You are a lot of things…but one thing you are definitely not…is a Daddy.” The idea that a pimp would claim and taint a word like “Daddy” honestly pisses me off. It is a word that I treasure because my children call me by that name. And when they do, it melts my heart, humbles me, and scares me with the responsibility that it carries.
During the documentary, I found myself asking questions. “Where are the fathers who will stand up to protect and defend the vulnerable?” Where are the fathers who by example, will raise sons who respect girls instead of abuse and objectify them? Where are the fathers who will cherish their daughters and empower them? When I see the daily devastation that men (and I use the term “men” very loosely here) have unleashed on children, I am undone.
The reality is, there are good fathers out there. I meet them everywhere I go. They come up to me with tears coming down their faces after I speak at an event. They approach me with angry voices, wanting to break down brothel doors…because they have daughters of their own. They give of their time, energy and finances to protect, defend, restore and empower. Some have even chosen a vocation that directly intervenes on behalf of vulnerable children.
So yes, they are out there. We just need more. We need to be brave enough, deliberate enough, loving enough…to take the name, “Daddy” back.
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