Our firstborn - our daughter - was only a few days old when I first called her "Princess." She's been my princess ever since.
I cannot imagine the agony of having her snatched from her school and taken who knows where.
That's the ordeal hundreds of Nigerian parents are going through today. Some 300 of their daughters were kidnapped from their school by terrorists.
The kidnappers are threatening to sell those girls. For something like $12. Some daddy's princess...some mother's treasure - sold like cattle.
Demonstrations demanding action have spread far beyond Nigeria. One national newscast said, "This has touched a nerve in women around the world."
What a nightmare. Your daughter stolen and taken to a very bad place.
It's the kind of nightmare I've shared with too many families.
After years of working with young people, my wife and I have grieved over many stolen daughters. Not our own. But girls who - though they might still be there physically - had been taken away to a bad place. Morally. Emotionally. Spiritually.
We've been there when a girl not yet a woman finds out she's going to be a mother. When a parent weeps over their daughter's life-scarring choices. When a parent has no idea where their daughter disappeared to. When a mom or dad waits as doctors fight to save their girl who's overdosed.
Through it all, we've seen four ways we can lose our daughters.
1. Missing dads
Missing physically. Missing emotionally. Leaving a girl unsure of her father's love. With a gaping daddy deficit. Which she will try to fill - often by looking for love in all the wrong places. Often getting lost.
2. Misguided moms
Who let their little girls become "teenagers" long before they're ready. Break out the makeup, the clothes, the styles of high school when she hasn't even finished elementary school. Psychologist Neil Postman called it "the disappearance of chlldhood." So many years ahead to be grown-up. Can't we let them have those few short years of being a child?
If they act like they're 14 when they're ten, they'll be acting like they're 20 when they're 14. And often going to a very bad place.
3. Selfish boys
Who know the words "I love you," but who really mean, "I'll use you." Their hormones are in charge, and they're takers not givers. If we've let our daughters buy the lie that a guy gives them worth, they'll do almost anything to get and keep one. Giving what they cannot get back - only to end up used, not loved.
4. Unchallenged lies
Like, "it's all about how you look." And Hollywood tells her what that look is. Leaving most girls looking in the mirror and seeing someone they think is "fat" or "ugly." And not worth much. Desperate to please anyone who gives her a little attention. And easily lost.
I've always thought an inventor knows best about what he's made. And our Inventor says, "Don't be concerned about the outward beauty...you should clothe yourselves with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty..." (1 Peter 3:3-4 - The Bible).
No one on earth gives a girl her worth. And no one on earth can take it away. She is, in the Inventor's words, "God's workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10).
Every daughter is a princess. Making sure she knows that is the best way to keep her safe.