Lately, Iâ€™ve been reading the book Elysse Barrett assisted her father David in writing, Fathers & Daughters: raising polished cornerstones. I would suggest, besides being a beautiful portrait in which their own relationship is offered up as a model of what a biblical father-daughter relationship ought to look like, more than an excellent bible study examining the biblical models, and negative examples, of father-daughter relationships, more than a parenting book that even fathers of sons and future parents should consider, this is a model of how ordinary Christians can take back their culture by changing the way we parent.
My own background both makes clear why this book is needed. Indeed, at twenty-one and single, Elysseâ€™s relationship with her father has left her far better prepared to fulfill her biblical role as a wife someday, than I was, and indeed, reading her book, I still feel like Iâ€™m playing catch up to where she is on this issue yet.
On the other hand, my background also makes me fear, in the wrong hands, the model up held could be twisted into something ugly, something, since Iâ€™ve had the opportunity to work with and get to know Elysse, I know the Barretts never, ever intended. Iâ€™m thinking primarily of those who would attempt to use these teachings to excuse the inexcusable, and those who would use such people to slander the Barretts as well as all who attempt to raise up their children in a biblical pattern. As illustrated by this book quite nicely, though, sometimes, the difference between abuse and good parenting is a matter of degreesâ€”and love.
So let me just reassure anyone reading this book that comes from a dysfunctional, or ultra-feminist, background: they are not at all saying parents have the right to abuse their children. The model this book lays out for us to follow only works with a â€œgodly authority,â€ a term used in the book, and in context referenced the fact married women are under their husbandâ€™s headship and not their fatherâ€™s, an issue not dealt with specifically, as the book is aimed at Christian Fathers and the daughters still under their headship. Respect is a must with any parent, but this kind of narrowing and authority must, as Mr. Barrett stresses, be laid on a foundation of love.
Indeed, the first task of their model is a father winning his daughterâ€™s heart. A daughter must have the comfort of knowing her father does what he does out of love, with her own interests and protection in mind, not out of his selfish ambition or desires for control, something the Barretts come across as well aware of, itâ€™s simply not the focal point of the book. I especially liked, in acknowledging that not every daughter has been as blessed as she, Elysse offers the hope that God has been known to bring a godly father-figure into a girlâ€™s life where she canâ€™t have that with her own father, and if all else fails, God will gladly fill this role in her life. I can testify it is certainly true. I have many teachers, but only one spiritual fatherâ€”the Lord himself.
Still, for Christian parents that want their children to grow up with their values, who wish to protect their children from negative influences, but have been scared into exposing their children by accusations of abuse and warnings that being too strict will cause children to rebel (to which the senior Barretts offer up their children as living proof that strict rules combined with love actually reduces the tendency to rebel) and for even young Christian couples laying the foundation to build their family on, for all those who would like to play a part in restoring our nation to itâ€™s Christian foundation, the Barretts have much wisdom to offer–and far more meat than bones.
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