St. Augustine Catholic
Catholic Faith in Action
Just Wait
Archival Treasures

editor's notes
saint of the month
bishop's message
from the archives
in the know with Fr. Joe
theology 101
your marriage matters
the parenting journey
spiritual fitness
parish profile
around the diocese
calendar of events
editor's notes
Fathers and Daughters

You can’t get a way from it. It’s everywhere. From mainstream television news programs, to Blogs on the Internet, talk radio, and magazines that you can’t help but notice at the checkout counter at the grocery store. Our society seems overly fascinated by the antics of young celebrities who are out of control. Newsweek, in their Feb. 12 cover story, calls it “The Girls Gone Bad Effect.” It’s enough to make parents cringe.

In Newsweek writers Kathleen Deveny and Raina Kelley asked some good questions. Does the rise of the bad girl signal something more profound, a coarsening of the culture and a devaluation of sex, love and lasting commitment? Should parents be concerned about the effect our racy popular culture may have on their kids and the women they would like their daughters to become? The answers are likely to lie in yet another question: where do our children learn values?

The good news, according to the article, is for the most part our children are learning values at home - from attentive parents, strong teachers, religious leaders and nice friends. And statistical evidence indicates that teen pregnancy, drinking and drug use are all down. But parents are still fighting an uphill battle when it comes to countering harmful media messages and the power of peer pressure. It’s a 24/7 job!

In March, Project SOS (Strengthening Our Students) hosted a Father Daughter Dinner Date called “Dancing with your Star.” They invited Erika Harold, Miss America 2003, and her father Bob to come to Jacksonville to share their own personal testimony.

The Father Daughter Dinner Date was a great success. According to Pam Mullarkey, Ph.D., founder of Project SOS, the program provided both daughters and their male role models, whether it be their father, uncle, stepfather or grandfather, the opportunity to hear how unhealthy choices can negatively impact their lives. It gave them the tools to begin fostering happy healthy relationships.

“This is a critical time in our country in the lives of our young women for fathers to show that they care for the welfare and well being of their daughters,” says Dr. Mullarkey.

And the more time dads and daughters spend together, the better. It turns out that fathers can have as much or more impact on their adolescent daughters’ lives as mothers, says Dr. Linda Nielsen in the March Better Homes and Gardens article, “Stand by Your Girl.” Dr. Nielsen is an adolescent psychologist and professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, who teaches a college course on father/daughter relationships.

“If dad is a supportive, trusting parent and counselor, his daughter is more likely to develop more confidence about her choices. She’ll also come to expect the same respect and decency from her male friends that she gets from her father in these exchanges.”

There are a number of resources that help parents parent. For dads visit The non-profit organization Dads and Daughters offers free e-newsletters full of suggestions for creating bonding time. The group also deals with broader issues, rallying against images of dangerously skinny or sexually explicit girls and gender stereotypes.

Project SOS is a local non-profit organization committed to assisting our youth to make “Best Choices” in choosing to refrain from pre-marital sex, drugs, alcohol, abusive relationships, violence and suicide. Project SOS also provides parents with educational materials and resources to help reduce high-risk behaviors. Visit or call (904) 354-6883.

- Kathleen Bagg-Morgan, editor