Thursday, February 22, 2007

Who's your Daddy?

I've been trying to avoid all of the obscenely voyeuristic coverage of the Anna Nicole Smith story over the past few weeks, but for a cable news junkie like me, it's been rather hard to miss. I've found this story to be disgusting, heart-wrenching, tragic, comedic and enlightening, all at the same time. I'm particularly struck by the varied commentary from everyday people who don't seem to really understand what this story, and the coverage of this story, says not only about Anna Nicole Smith, but about our culture. With all that's going on in the world today, the facination with this story is truly sad.

That said, my heart goes out to the one true victim in this case - baby Danielle Lynn. No matter what you think of her mother, her grandmother, or any of the growing number of prospective fathers, that little girl did not ask for the lifetime of pain she is certain to endure in the midst of this mess. I find myself praying for her every time I hear her mother's name mentioned.

This story has me thinking about paternity... how ironic it is that at the same time men are coming out of the woodwork to claim this innocent baby girl, there are thousands of innocent babies born every day who's legitimate biological fathers go to great lengths to deny their paternal responsibilities. The skeptic in me suspects that there are nearly a half a billion reasons why so many people want to be this particular baby's father.

In keeping with the daddy theme, I've also been thinking about what all this fatherhood stuff is really about. I am definitely not a feminist who believes that children don't need fathers, but I'm also aware that many children suffer their greatest hurts at the hands of their fathers. I can't think of a single long-term survivor of sexual violence that I've met through the years that doesn't have a story to tell about a fractured relationship with her father. In some cases, her abuse was suffered at the hands of her father or stepfather, but in many cases, emotional and/or physical alienation from her father exacerbated either the circumstances surrounding her violation or severly impacted her ability to heal. I would argue that even women who have not been violated in the strictest sense of the word more often than not develop their sense of self-worth (or lack thereof) and develop models of how they will interact with the men in their lives (specifically in the areas of trust and emotional intimacy) based in large part on the relationships they had with their fathers or father-figures as they were growing up.

Not all of us were blessed with wonderful earthly fathers, and for those who were, it is truly a blessing. But our lives will change immeasurably for the better once we realize that while earthly fathers are important, it's our Heavenly Father who is the only one we can look to for everything we need. No matter who got your mother pregnant, raised you during your childhood, abandoned you, loved you, caused your tears or wiped them away, only one Father has always been there, and will always be there... even when you can't feel His presence. Once you know in your heart that there is only one true answer to the question "Who's your Daddy?" it becomes a little easier to put all of this earthly "stuff" into perspective. I pray that God will place someone in baby Danielle Lynn's life who will teach her this truth.

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