I’ve always felt under-equipped to be a parent, but never so much as when we were blessed with a daughter just over 10 years ago. And now that she’s growing up to be a beautiful women, my inadequacy is really showing. So I was very interested when Thomas Nelson offered a free copy of Elayne Bennett’s “Daughters in Dangers” in exchange for an objective review.
Unfortunately, the book didn’t quite provide what I had hoped.
My biggest concerns come from the pretty clear partisan overtone of most of the book. Of course, that shouldn’t be terribly surprising given the author (wife of conservative Bill Bennett). And the partisanship doesn’t, on its own, suggest that she doesn’t care about her subject. But couched as warning and advice for parents, I suppose I was expecting a bit more of an even hand. Further, much of the time, she seemed to be pitching her “Best Friends” organization–potentially a very helpful and useful group with some success in alleviating the problem, but when you’re looking for advice on “helping our girls thrive in today’s culture,” you want more than just a suggestion to have them join a club, no matter how successful.
All of that said, Ms. Bennett actually offers an important wake-up call to parents of daughters, regardless of political persuasion or proclivity for joining groups. The fact is that neither the liberals that Bennett is clearly fighting against nor the old line “conservatives” that they are reacting to have done much to help the plight of girls. In fact, what is often lost in this war of words and ideas is that our culture has an impact and negative impact on real women (and men) with real emotions, pains and perspectives. We have politicized and philosophized things to the point that in an effort to make a point, we really have put our daughters in danger.
What Bennett does very well is motivate action on behalf of parents, teachers and others. To her credit, she is personally vested in making a real difference. And she is nothing if not persuasive in encouraging us all to just get involved and quit squabbling over definitions, pawning off responsibility and riding on philosophical high horses and actually care about the young women in our lives enough to do something to help them.
So even if Bennett’s own politics and agenda get in the way a bit and even if the presentation is a bit scattered in places, her overarching message is one that needs to be heard, considered and engaged. She is merely echoing Paul’s words to Titus in chapter 1:10-16, where he warns about the worst of the culture “subverting whole houses.” Interestingly, her advice for combating the culture also reflects Paul’s advice in Titus 2, which revolves around being genuine, actually caring and teaching God’s truth.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the panacea I had hoped for, but the reality is that there is no such thing in the business of raising the sons and daughters that God has blessed us with. I’ll still take all of the advice books and “wake up calls” I can find. But I’ll still have to do the hard work of teaching my daughter what’s right, living that lesson in front of her everyday and loving the daylights out of her.