Positive Parenting

Prepping Our Daughters for Life’s “Black Widows”

By March 26, 20123 Comments


That was my instant reaction upon spotting in my garage the largest female black widow I’d ever seen, perhaps two inches long from tip to tip. At the time, my wife and I were loading up our girls into our Honda Civic, while the spider rested on a web that hung between the car bumper and some boxes along the wall.


The unmistakable red hourglass on her underbelly confirmed that, as a father, I now had a mission, should I choose to accept it – to protect my family from this poisonous critter and the hundreds of spiderlings she could produce. For a moment, though, I hesitated. Even though I’m the designated bugwhacker in our family, I still feel squeamish about squishing bugs. (I actually prefer catch-and-release, as in catch inside and release outside.) But the thought of one of my girls getting bitten by a black widow while retrieving a trike or ball greatly clarified my situation…


This is one of the things I signed up for when I became a dad – to ensure as much as possible my kids’ safety. In short order, armed with one of the aforementioned boxes, I completed my mission, evicting the spider from our home with deadly force.

This same protective instinct adds fuel to my drive to be as present for – and actively involved with – my girls as I can. There are many crappy things in the world that they’ll be exposed to as they grow up, including something we often discuss on this website, the cultural pressures to look or act a certain way. Let’s call these crappy things life’s metaphorical black widows. For my part, I’m determined to help my daughters develop, by God’s grace, a healthy emotional and spiritual core so they’ll be better equipped to deal with them.


Dads have a special opportunity to help their daughters deal with not just the icky-creepy bugs that drop in uninvited, but also with life’s black widows. It’s widely accepted in the professional community that dads play a unique, powerful role in developing a girl’s self-image as she grows up. His attentive care for her physical, emotional, and spiritual needs helps to prepare her for a lifetime of dealing with life’s crappy things in a wiser, healthier way. Conversely, his lack of nurture for her leaves her more vulnerable. My co-blogger here at Fb, Dr. Michelle Watson, beautifully articulates this when she talks about her work through The Abba Project:

“I want to assist dads to more effectively, intentionally, consistently, emotionally, and verbally connect with their daughters just like they connected with them on the day they were born! I believe this can be a solution that could decrease teen pregnancy … alcohol and drug use … eating disorders … all because girls are getting the need met deep inside herself that longs for unconditional love because she is being nurtured and validated by her dad.”

God gives us fathers a mission – to take advantage of the awesome opportunity we uniquely have as dads to prep our daughters for life’s black widows. Is it one that you accept?

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Ann says:

    I appreciate your insights, Eugene! My husband and I were able to help our two daughters–now young adults–successfully navigate the many “black widows” confronting them as they were growing up. But it wasn’t always easy. You (and Michelle) are SO right about the importance of the role of Dads. We are now finding there are also increasingly powerful cultural pressures on our teenage son to “look and act a certain way.” To help equip him, we are continually seeking God’s grace and guidance, as we did with our girls.

  • Travis says:

    Thanks for the call to arms Eugene. I feel like I’ve been facing some of these challenges in my parenting even this week. I’m learning how important relationship is to this task. If I’m not relating well to my daughter, not listening, not connecting then she may not have the ears to hear me what I take a protective stance. I’ve also seen that recently in some dads I work with – they want to guide and direct their daughters but because their daughters don’t feel heard or understood by them the simply come across as ‘strict’ or out of touch.

  • Michelle Watson says:

    Thanks Eugene for the shout out! I love that we both are passionate about equipping and inspiring dads to invest in their daughters like never before! Keep up the great role modeling :o)