It is already in its third Italian edition the book entitled Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know (Regnery Publishing, 2007), also published in Spanish since 2011 .
The book has been conceived and written with a distinct sense of maternalism in it with the aim of helping fathers to create an awareness of the impact fathers have on their daughters lives. It has the making of becoming a real cultural bestseller that any man (or woman) can read and reflect on in years to come. It is a scientific book but also a genuine guide with a practical, analytical and inspiring approach that can offer the reader a chance to comprehend better what is happening in the lives of adolescents today.
The author of the book Meg Meeker , is an American, wife and mother of four children, a renowned pediatrician, lecturer and family consultant with over twenty years of experience. She is an active member of theAmerican Academy of Pediatrics and of the National Advisory Board of the Medical Institute.
Over the last ten years Dr. Meeker has published various titles regarding adolescent problems: Your Kids At Risk: How Teen Sex Threatens Our Sons and Daughters (Regnery Publishing, 2007) and The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose and Sanity (Ballantine Books, 2011), with a third intriguing publication entitled: Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets To Raising Healthy Sons (Ballantine Books, 2009). All her books demonstrate through scientific research and practical experience a way to build a new value system in the family and how to re-invent our lifestyles in order to place importance on raising sons and daughters in a strong and healthy way so that they can learn to love despite contradictory and hostile environments that oppose family values.
The book consists of 10 chapters, 20-30 pages long and each one addresses a different theme in a practical-scientific way to back up her main thesis that: the father figure has a power and an incommensurable importance in the lives of their daughters. Though the statement is peremptory, it is supported by medical data (somewhat startling) from prestigious scientific journals. Dr Meeker begins each chapter by giving a clinical explanation and supports her thesis with her own counselling practice and numerous interviews. The result is an elaborate but well-researched book which provides easy reading and clear comprehension.
The first chapter “You Are The Most Important Man In Her Life” startles the reader with the somewhat frightening empirical data. The research was conducted in the USA but one can also identify with similar customs and habits in Western culture. The statistics reveal that: in 2004 12% of women in Europe had been raped; 28% of High school pupils had consumed alcohol before the age of thirteen and 9% of High school pupils had taken cocaine in some form or other (Morbidity Mortality Weekly Review). In 2005 it was revealed that those who were sexually active before marriage were more likely to suffer from depression ( American Journal of Preventive Medicine). In 2006, 41% of girls between the ages of 14 and 17 had felt peer pressure to have sex for fear of being left by their boyfriends ( Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine).
Yet despite this gloomy depressing picture (of drug, alcohol, depression and sex) where negative or dangerous situations lie Meeker never ceases to repeat what Christian tradition has always defended: the father will be the most important man in the life of his daughter. In the father figure stems a daughter’s aspirations of being loved and of how to love others and of the way she perceives herself as being worthy. She needs a figure who protects and helps her to guard against dangerous influences. A loving and praiseworthy father therefore is needed but also one who is strong and firm, who can establish limits and boundaries even if at times it will result in long silences and tears on both parts. Only in this way, the daughter will seek a husband with similar likenesses to her father, (the very same which will help her to develop her potential as a mother) but she will also see in him the living image of God.
The author also attacks ideologies such as feminism which every parent should know about and address. For example, feminism, the emerging anti-culture of fashion or professional fanaticism. There is little mention of the image of the mother presented in most case histories as a skilful reconciler in family conflicts. Chastity- which in my opinion is an essential topic of discussion – is approached from a clinical perspective and does not make mention of the moral aspect. The book basically stresses (to fathers) the importance of fostering a strong father figure in the lives of their daughters. As a result, their daughters will be confident and well-adjusted throughout life and will be equipped to face all the difficulties and identity crises which emerge from today’s society. “Can a father make a bond with his daughter? Of course he can and more easily than he thinks - concludes Meeker. A bond which will be part of her life: helping her with homework, taking her to the theatre or travelling together. Whatever the case may be, or whatever he does, he will be focussed on her. He will tune into her, listen to her: and not allow that his job or preoccupations prevent him from having a dialogue with her. At the end of the day she will be more important than anyone else”
* Rafael Hurtado is an associate professor of the Humanities Department at the Panamericana University (Guadalajara Campus, Mexico)