How Dads Can Protect Their Kids
Fine tuning fatherly instincts goes a long way.
When Ismael Duarte was in a Cypress, California, Target store recently, he saw a fellow named Jorge Ibarra trying to take photos up the skirt of Duarte’s 15-year-old daughter. He got between his girl and Ibarra. Ibarra moved on.
When he saw Ibarra trying to do the same thing to another girl, Duarte had had enough. He kicked Ibarra’s phone from his hand. He chased him out of Target. Duarte then ran after Ibarra and “tackled him [and] snapped photos as he fled in a vehicle, which later helped police identify him.”
The police got Ibarra and booked him.
Duarte’s actions were gutsy, and the police call him a hero. But he says he was “just doing his job.”
He showed the courage a father should show. He protected vulnerable girls by placing himself at risk. That’s fatherhood as it should be.
Protecting Your Children Comes Naturally
There is something very natural about fathers defending their children, especially their daughters. The quick decision to protect the girl God has entrusted to you, who is more precious to you than life, is not something a dad has to be taught.
Once when my sons were toddlers, they were almost hit by a car that tore into the lot of the convenience store where we were parked. As I walked — stormed — over to the car, I prayed that God would help me act with restraint.
The car was driven by a teenage boy who, with his girlfriend and a buddy, were unaware of what they had done. “Do you realize you almost hit my children?” I asked as I came up to the driver.
The kid said he hadn’t seen my boys and seemed unnerved, so I just told him to watch himself and let it go. But if he had given me lip, I’m not sure what I would have done.
I’m grateful God kept me from overreacting. But I’m not sorry for telling a maniac teenage driver what he nearly had done. If he put someone’s kids at risk, that could be dangerous — for him.
“Dadhood” At Its Best
Being ready to defend your children from a sexual predator, a dangerous situation, or a physical threat is one aspect of “dadhood.” But there’s another way fathers need to protect their children that we don’t talk about enough. First, some background:
The National Academy of Science lists a complex list of things that make a young person vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Family conflict, physical or sexual abuse in the home, being bullied — a young person who feels unloved and desperate is prey for those who would misuse them.
Young women without fathers tend to become vulnerable young women. These women “find it harder to build healthy personal and professional lives as they are building their lives, relationships, aspirations, and self-representation on the basis of this trauma, especially when it occurs during adolescence,” writes journalist and researcher Andrea Bomo.
These claims are documented in all kinds of academic literature. For example, University of British Columbia psychologist Dr. Eric Kruk notes that young people in homes of divorce who are raised without dads “are more likely to experience problems with sexual health, including a greater likelihood of having intercourse before the age of 16, foregoing contraception during first intercourse, becoming teenage parents, and contracting sexually transmitted infection.”
My friend the eminent sociologist Dr. Pat Fagan concludes that divorce “permanently weakens the family and the relationship between children and parents. It frequently leads to destructive conflict management methods, diminished social competence and for children, the early loss of virginity, as well as diminished sense of masculinity or femininity for young adults.”
So, here’s the thing that good dads protect their children from: Not being valued and cherished.
A good dad realizes buying “stuff” and creating special occasions are only a small part of successful fatherhood. He knows that there is no greater gift he can give to his kids than his time. Not just so-called “quality time,” but time doing things like taking them on errands. Mowing the grass. Reading stories and tickling and watching cartoons and going on outdoor adventures and doing things his child loves. And teaching them there’s a God Who loves them so very much.
A good dad knows that there is another gift he can give to his children that he alone can give: Loving their mother. Demonstrating that love in the time he spends with her. The respect he shows her. The sacrifices he makes in serving her. The spiritual leadership he provides her.
I admire Ismael Duarte. I also admire dads who know that the daily, sometimes boring, sometimes exhausting privileges and duties of being a dad will reap great fruit in the lives of those he loves the most. I haven’t been a perfect dad, that’s for sure, and my wife deserves great credit for our great kids.
But seeing the good fruit that’s growing in my children is more rewarding than words can express. Fathers, cultivate it at all costs.