Back when my daughters were in school, they had what Doug and I would have described as healthy relationships with all their male teachers. We were glad and grateful for these godly male teachers, and very appreciative of their expertise and teaching skills. We were delighted to have such a well qualified batch of men (and women, too) to instruct them in many subjects over the course of their Logos career.
But if we had heard that our daughters were taking their lunch in to their (male) teacher’s room to visit over the lunch hour, or seeking out the male teachers after school hours, or writing them notes expressing their great respect, or sending them chatty emails, we would have sounded the alarm. This would have been read by us as a father failure of the first order. As it was, I can very gratefully acknowledge the teachers’ work as first rate, and thank God that our daughters always maintained a friendly respectfulness to these teachers while keeping their distance. They did not hug them, share their troubles with them, ask their advice (except when it regarded an assignment), or leave notes in their boxes. That would be way too close for comfort. For this I thank God, and I am grateful to Doug for being the kind of dad who took care to cover all that fatherly territory with them so that they had no need to look elsewhere for it.
When I hear a young woman extol her male teacher, youth group leader, online teacher, or boss in an overly enthusiastic way, or if I see her following him around, or taking her lunch into his office to visit, or sending him texts, or spending too much time on his facebook, I assume that she is a needy young lady who has a father who is not paying attention to his duties. And I also assume that this man is being very foolish, whatever age he is. And if he is married, it is even worse.
Believe it or not, this is a common problem. A young unmarried woman is hungry for male leadership. If she has a boss or instructor who is providing instruction and leadership by teaching or leading, and a father who isn’t, then it is a perfect set-up for her to begin to render too much respect, and it can be a temptation for the teacher to enjoy it too much. He can be flattered at the attention and provide fatherly attention when he has no business or calling to do so. I have heard of such things happening, believe me. It is not healthy or wise, and it can lead to real troubles. I am not making this stuff up.
Wives whose husbands love to receive this kind of attention from their female students or youth group attendees or employees should make it clear that this is not acceptable. Of course it is possible that some wives are imagining this stuff. I’m speaking here of occasions when it is obvious. In such a case, a wife should be jealous of such attention and let her husband know that she does not think he should be so receptive to this kind of attention. He needs to be friendly and distant to his female students, employees, or youth-groupies.
Fathers who have daughters who are hanging abound or bragging about how “totally awesome” their male teachers, bosses, or youth pastors are should take it as a wake-up call. And unmarried daughters ought to be taught to save that kind of respect for their fathers and husbands. If a young lady does not have a father, she should be warned of the hazards of looking in the wrong places for fatherly attention. This world is full of snares and temptations of all kinds, and it is always an advantage to know where your vulnerabilities are.