In this chapter we learn that fathers are supposed to be our best friend and confidant!
“Our fathers are supposed to be dear, trusted confidantes and friends….our knights in shining armor, our protectors, our guardians, and they are even supposed to represent God to us” (17).
I’m just not even sure how to start responding to this. Confidante and friend? Knight in Shining Armor? God to us? Where does it say that in the bible? Oh right:
The Extra, extra Apocrypha 3:1 Daughters make sure you tell you fathers everything, because they are your best friend and confident and your knight in shining armor. Tell them everything, because it’s dangerous for you to start coming to your own conclusions about things! Remember you can’t make decisions for yourself, and there is no such thing as privacy!
Just kidding, it doesn’t say that anywhere. So how are they getting to this conclusion? Why the emphasis on this relationship?
According to the Botkin sisters it’s because,
“In this generation, girls are facing a lot of problems. In fact, this year young women are facing a lot more problems than they did a century ago [such as…?]….We know more than we wish to know about the problems facing troubling young women…they are facing all kinds of complications, conundrums, cynicism, and confusion over where they’re headed in life. They struggle with a proper idea of femininity and masculinity, a healthy view of authority and submission, a sense of direction and priority, the concept of protection and security…” (15, emphasis added).
Once again, the Botkin sisters are sensing a problem and only seeing one cause and solution. Because you’re feeling confused about life and/or feeling a lack of meaning and purpose it’s because you rejected your sole purpose in life—you didn’t listen to your father and you don’t want to be a helpmeet and wife and mother.
Never mind that feeling that confused or depressed about life could mean anything from you have a food allergy, to you need to do a better job taking care of yourself, to you should reconsider your choice of career if it’s making you unhappy.
The Botkin sisters have probably never questioned their purpose in life (being a wife and mother). Because they have never been allowed to dream outside of the box, they can’t understand that feeling confused about life is NORMAL! Feeling angst about changing something in your life or pursuing a dream doesn’t mean it’s wrong—it’s the emotional inertia you feel when you’re changing from the status quo. And well, of course it’s a lot easier to just live at home with your parents, not have to worry about classes, grades, rent, bills, or “adult” things until you find a husband to do it for you! (Although, no guarantees that you won’t suffer from depression doing it that way).
They conclude, instead, that these “problems” stem from girls
“…missing a functional, confiding, loving relationship with their fathers. Oh sure, they have happy, casual buddy relationships with their dads, but this is not a substitute for a strong biblical relationship that edifies, inspires, and strengthens both the father and the daughter” (16).
Apparently, if the girls just had a good relationship with their father, everything in their life would be fine.
Look, I’m all for having a great relationship with your dad (and your mom too!). It’s nice when a Gilmore Girls scenario happens with a parent and a daughter, but it can’t be forced, and it’s certainly not required for a parent and a child to both value each other and lead happy, successful lives.
Furthermore, the father-daughter relationship seems to be taking the place of other relationships in their lives—such as the relationship between the husband and his wife and the daughter and her friends. If the father and daughter are “best friends” and confidents, then what is the mother? Isn’t she supposed to be the best friend and confidant of her husband? Is she just second fiddle now—only there to fulfill the sexual needs of the father? And where are the daughter’s friends? Is she not allowed to have other confidents and best friends, because that’s what her father is?
A relationship can become unhealthy very quickly when a parent is using a child to fulfill their need for friendship by not allowing their child to pursue their own friendships and relationships. It stunts the child’s ability to be an individual, experience life, and learn how to have healthy boundaries.
Then we get to the crux of their belief,
“…the forgotten principles of fatherly protection and daughterly honor are the missing dynamic girls need in leading fruitful, stable, happy lives which will give honor to God” (16).
According to the Botkins, the benefits of this relationship are not only that you’ll have a happy, fulfilling life, but that:
“Being protected by our fathers teaches us how to be protected, loved, and cherished, and teaches the responsibilities that go with this blessing—how to be faithful, how to be trusting, and how to have a yielded heart” (17).
Aren’t there other ways to learn to be faithful and trusting?
So what is the purpose of life for women?
Women were created FOR men.
“We would not exist but for men; man was our source. …man was formed from dust, but woman had her origin and being from man and for man.” (18).
“Women have really only two ways of relating to men: helping them lead poorly, for Satan’s glory, or helping them lead well, for God’s glory” (18, emphasis added).
Either you’re a good helpmeet or you’re not. That is all you exist for. You can’t have dreams of your own, because you have to help fulfill the dreams of the men in your life.
And, if you thought that was bad:
“Women do need men, wives do need husbands, daughters do need fathers, in the same way that the Church needs Christ. To deny this is to blaspheme” (19).
Wow, now they’re calling people who disagree with them blasphemous. I think they just crossed a line, drew another line, and crossed it again.
It seems to me that the Botkin sisters believe that you are essentially incomplete as a person without a man in your life. You cannot have self-worth and purpose without a man in your life, because the only reason you exist is for a man.
What kind of messed up message is it to send to girls that tells them the whole purpose of their life is to find a man to help serve?
Like seriously, did they just go there?
I think most Christians would agree that there’s not really anything in the Bible that supports the things they are saying without doing some serious exegetical gymnastics. While the Botkin sisters may be justifying it “biblically” by citing a few selective Bible verses, I believe it’s decidedly unchristian.
A lot has been written already about these verses in Genesis, and if you haven’t already, I’d recommend reading this post by Rachel Held Evans on patriarchy, her post on the interpretation of the verses in Genesis, and her post on an overview of women and women leaders in the Bible. I’d also recommend this article by N.T. Wright on women and leadership to get perspective on “women’s roles” written by a theologian, not teenagers.
The Botkins talk a lot about girls who looked to other men to find value because they didn’t have a good relationship with their father. The truth is, having a better relationship with their father isn’t going to solve the problem. They will still be looking to other people—even if it’s their father—to validate themselves.
It’s good to have people in your life who help you see the value in yourself, but eventually the goal is to get to the point that you have enough of that belief inside of you that you stop looking for that validation from other people. (And wait, isn’t your worth, value, and purpose supposed to come from God, not man?)
Suffice to say, how damaging is it to a young girl to make her believe that her only value comes from having a man in her life who tells her she is valuable (even if it’s her father telling her this)? And that her life only has meaning if she is serving helping a man. As if believing she is valuable without male affirmation isn’t an option—and the Botkins don’t believe it is!
In addition to the MAJOR problem in this chapter in relation to a girl’s self-worth, I found the lack of Biblical discussion in this chapter appalling. The Botkin sisters are making all kinds of serious claims about the “biblical” relationship between fathers and daughters and showing little to no “biblical” support for their ideas.