Last week, something happened that made my skin crawl. While sitting at home nursing a bad head cold, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and learned that Curt Schilling, former professional baseball player and Hall of Fame candidate, was absolutely barraged with the most heinous, vile tweets imaginable pertaining to his teenage daughter.
I don't know when or how this became socially acceptable, but I was raised with the belief that no girl should ever be talked to or treated in the disgusting way these boys were treating her. As a father to a little girl who will someday be a young woman, I felt the internal flame of protection that only a father knows flare up in my chest in complete outrage. Fathers, we have a tremendous battle on our hands. Here are five ways to help raise your daughter to deal with the ugliness of the world.
1. Show her how a real man behaves. I cannot stress this enough, but your daughter needs you to be the sterling example of how a man acts. Treat her mother with love, tenderness and respect, so your daughter will know what to look for in a man.
2. Teach your daughter to be strong. You better believe my daughter will be raised with a strong head, and yes, I'm fully aware there are going to be times when that will come back to bite me. But my daughter will know where she stands on things, and be unshakable in that stance. Teach your daughter not only what is right and wrong, but to fight for what is right and true.
3. "Date" your daughter. If you want to know your daughter, woo your daughter and simultaneously teach her how a lady should be treated by a man, take her on dates. Dress your best for her, bring her flowers, treat her like it is a first date every time you do it, and do it often. Being a constant presence and reminder of how a man behaves will keep it fresh in mind when she is bogged down by the slew of moronic young boys out there claiming to be "men."
4. Be on her side. Your daughter needs to know that you are there for her -- that you will protect her, do anything for her and will not judge her. Make sure you are cultivating a safe relationship with your daughter so that she knows she can come to you in times of trouble.
5. Develop her self-worth. As your daughter grows, there will be societal voices telling her that her worth comes from everything except for herself. She will hear that her worth comes from her appearance, her relationships, her job -- nothing will be telling her that her worth comes from her heart and her values, except for you and her mother. Encourage her and teach her that she is worth more than what is skin-deep.
Fathers, be present. Your daughter needs you more than you could ever imagine. Be there for her. Love her. Care for her. Protect her.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post incorrectly called Curt Schilling a Hall of Fame inductee.