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FIRST-PERSON: A little girl stole my heart — again

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP) — Almost 30 years ago, a baby girl stole my heart. Not sure how it happened.

One minute, I was a strong-willed father of a rambunctious son, a father who thought he understood what it meant to love a child. The next moment, just after she smiled at me the first time, I was an emotional puddle of goo hopelessly in love with my daughter Melody. She has been the apple of my eye ever since (just ask her brothers).

Well, it’s happened again. My granddaughter, Savannah Grace, joined the family earlier this month. She smiled at me — and boom — it happened. Another little girl stole my heart! Amazingly, she worked her magic twice in the same hour — curling her little fist around her father’s pinkie and putting him under her spell just before she did her number on me.

Daughters and granddaughters are powerful little ladies. With a smile and a clasp, they reduce otherwise independent, strong-willed, driven men to baby-talking servants willing to do about anything to make them happy. But more than that — their love for us evokes a willingness in us to do everything we can to nurture them to womanhood.

These are challenging days for women in our culture. Gender mutilation, radical feminism, role confusion and mixed cultural messages demanding everything from corporate success to sexual prowess to motherly sacrifice make girlhood and womanhood difficult. Statistics about the number of girls who are abused are horrifying. Men who do such things are despicable. Girls are at risk in our culture, but even more so in cultures where religious and political forces conspire to oppress them.

God gives baby girls as special gifts. Christian fathers and grandfathers have a huge responsibility to love them, protect them and help them flourish into healthy women. While indulging them from time to time (come on, we’re dads) is part of showing extravagant love, sacrificing for them is the true measure of our love for the girls in our lives.

So, Savannah Grace, you’ve got us — both your dad and me. We’re all-in to loving you like silly men sometimes do, but also to sacrifice ourselves for your well-being. Welcome to the family!