I am the middle of three girls born into a football family. My dad has been a football coach for over 30 years and of course didn’t end up with a single son. Three girls. I remember asking him about that once because people always joke about it and he replied, I have plenty of boys at work – I love coming home to my girls.
Recently I was given the opportunity to read former Alabama defensive back John Croyle’s book Raising a P.R.I.N.C.E.S.S.: How to Raise Daughters of a King. It was sent to me to review and actually arrived while my own Dad was in town. I showed it too him and he was familiar with Croyle and the Big Oak Ranch, his safe-haven for children. The title of the book actually got us talking about raising godly daughters as well.
I will never forget going to hear my Dad speak shortly after his team won a Super Bowl. He held up his ring as he crowd took it in and he said, my greatest accomplishment isn’t in football – my greatest accomplishment has been raising three girls who love The Lord and are living for Him.
Immediately upon reading that John Croyle gave up the chance to play in the NFL to found the Big Oak Ranch for boys and later a place for girls as well, I was intrigued. Obviously having grown up around that league myself I know what an honor and an accomplishment it was to be wanted and what a sacrifice he made in turning that down because he felt a calling to something else.
Croyle’s book takes you through 8 essential virtues inspired by the woman spoken of in proverbs 31 to teach your daughter(s) including: praiseworthiness, righteousness, initiative, nurture, character, empowerment, servant-heartedness, and stability. Within each chapter he applies principles from proverbs 31 in a practical life applicable way. With praiseworthiness he also emphasizes the importance of showing your daughters unconditional love. When I worked as a relationship educator I was heartbroken by the girls I met who hadn’t experienced real love from their fathers and compromises they made in relationships because of that. I love that Croyle places high value in loving your daughters well and giving them praise so they won’t seek it elsewhere!
Character was perhaps my favorite chapter. This was a huge one for my Dad in raising Rachel, Ruth, and myself. He wanted to raise women of character and he pushed us in this area tirelessly. Croyle says, ‘character requires discipline and training’ – I can imagine my own Dad using those same words. With character this chapter offers a section on framework for decision making which again shows you how practical and applicable this book was. Each lesson places value on the essential but also guides you in implementing that essential in parenting as well.
Not being a parent myself I read this book and was grateful for how my own parents raised me but also I thought of how I can be an amazing aunt to my niece in these ways and help to grow her into a daughter of the King. This book is a great read for those parenting girls or walking along side those parenting girls. If we as a Christian culture can grow daughters of the King then what incredible wives, mothers, employees, leaders, and friends they will someday be.
I want to leave you with a story. In the book Croyle encourages fathers to help their daughters ‘survive their mistakes’. That really hit home for me. With Father’s Day recently passed I had been talking about my Dad with a few people and I was reminded of one of my favorite experiences with failure. I was 16 and newly driving. Tampa was a tough city to learn to drive in. A few months in I was involved in a fender bender. It wasn’t technically my fault but you couldn’t have told me that – I was mortified! I remembering being so nervous to call my Dad and tell him.
12 years later that call feels like yesterday. As soon as his voice came on the line I was choked up. He could hear the tears in my voice as I started with ‘I’m so sorry Dad, I’ve been in an accident’. And I waited for him to say any one of a million parental responses and you know what he said? He said, Bekes, I care about you. I care that your safe and you’re healthy. I care that you’re ok. I don’t care about that car. Cars can be fixed or replaced. You’re what matters to me’.
In that moment my Dad helped me through what felt like a huge failure. When I felt like I’d screwed up royally he walked me through that while giving me value, showing my love without condition, and nurturing me. I am thankful for him and I hope this book inspires many other men and women to raise princesses.