In the spring of 2003 my wife, Tracy, told me she was pregnant with our first child. At the time we were living on a seminary campus in Kansas City, Missouri. We had been married for three years and had just recently returned from living as missionaries in West Africa. After the hectic pace of our first few years of marriage, it seemed like it was the perfect time to start our family.
When Tracy told me we were going to have a baby, I was ecstatic. I had wanted to be a dad for a while. The next day after she told me, I went to a store and bought the tiniest little denim dress. We still have that little dress. I bought it because I knew, with certainty, that our first child would be a girl. I don’t know how I knew; I just knew. And I loved it.
I loved when Sarah Grace was born, and I’ve loved watching her and her younger sister, Kessed Noel, grow up. They’re both teenagers now, and driving and boys are part of their equation, and as much as that terrifies me, I absolutely adore being their dad. They are beautiful. They are kind. They are intelligent. They love Jesus. And being a #girldad is one of the best things in the world to me.
Over the past week we collectively experienced the horrific death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people, in a terrible helicopter accident in Calabasas, California. Many people have written lengthy tributes to Kobe and his life, but of interest to me was an anecdote offered by Elle Duncan, a sportscaster with ESPN, in which she shared about an interaction with Kobe when she was pregnant with her daughter, and Kobe’s overwhelming encouragement.
— Michael Eaves (@michaeleaves) January 28, 2020
“I would have five more girls if I could. I am a girl dad.” That line got me. And I’m not alone. As of this writing, the clip had been retweeted almost 40,000 times and nearly 37 million people had watched it.
The hashtag #girldad became a trending topic on Twitter as dads of girls began sharing why they loved being a dad to girls. So why did this resonate so much? And, as a Christian, should it resonate just as clearly with me? I am confident that the answer to that is profoundly yes.
The Gift of Girls
Girls have amazing value, inherent dignity, and self-worth, and yet this has often—even among followers of Christ—been downplayed. In many countries around the world boys are so prized that parents will abort female children, or abandon female children, or even more quickly sell female children into slavery, because a male child is what matters most.
While we in America may not do exactly that, there is still incredible pressure to have a boy in our context. Someone to carry on the family name, someone to provide and protect, and so on; these personal values can cause us to feel bad for the person who doesn’t have a son.
This often unstated pressure is regularly evidenced in even Christian homes. Sadly, on occasion, we are even guilty of allowing theology to dictate to us the ideal that boys have greater value than girls. This is simply false. As followers of Christ, we recognize that girls are born with inherent value and dignity and, just like boys, their dignity is not tied to their performance (i.e. their ability to carry on the family name, or their ability to protect and provide, etc.). Every little girl, like every little boy, has dignity because they are created by God and in His image. They have value because they exist, not because they perform.
With that said, and as a dad of two very intelligent, capable, and strong girls, I love that my girls, and so many others, are constantly disproving the idea that girls are not able to perform in a way boys can. Watching my girls perform and work and produce is one of the great privileges of my life. I love that I have the opportunity to point them to Jesus, to help them love their family well, and to encourage them to work in whatever field they desire, to serve their community and contribute to human flourishing.
One of the most often quoted texts about the godly woman is Proverbs 31. It’s a beautiful text. It reminds us that the godly woman is able to care for her husband, children, and home, but it also points out that the godly woman is able to be industrious, working hard, earning income, and contributing to the flourishing of her community.
I am a girl dad. I love being a girl dad. There are not enough words in my vocabulary to sufficiently explain how amazed I am that God allows me to be a dad to Sarah Grace and Kessed Noel.
And I can’t help but be convinced that part of our collective embrace of Kobe’s proud, “I am a girl dad” moment is because God has set it in the heart of every person that girls are amazing. They are majestic creations, made in His image, designed for His purpose, and created for His glory and the good of those around them. To be a #girldad is a gift, because girls are a gift.