Raising daughters, part I: The nature of true beauty and how to avoid fear...
(Tim, w/thanks to the godly mothers of Church of the Good Shepherd) We offer several classes Lord's Day mornings in between two worship services. One on childrearing is taught by Pastor Stephen Baker.
Being the father of five sons, Stephen asked if I'd come into his class for a week and teach on raising daughters. In preparation, I asked Mary Lee to write down some of her thoughts. She, in turn, wrote a couple women of our church (including our daughters) asking for their thoughts...
Here's the first installment of the help I received with names changed to protect the guilty and innocent. Future installments will follow in coming days. If you, good reader, have something to contribute, please do send it to me at tbbayly at gmail dot com.
How blessed we are to have received such wise mothers and wives and daughters from our loving God!
RAISING DAUGHTERS, PART I
One of the first things that we strive to teach our girls is that their beauty is not to be merely external, but the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God's sight.
Little girls hear all the time about how pretty they are - from their parents, grandparents, passersby in the grocery store. These are good opportunities to teach them...
how to receive a compliment graciously and then to explain to them what it is that really makes them beautiful.
When they're really little, it's a game of sorts. "What makes you beautiful? Is it your sparkly blue eyes? - NO! Is it your curly golden hair? - NO! Is it your shining smile? - NO! Is it your pretty dress? - NO! Well then, what is it? - A gentle and quiet spirit!"
We introduce the idea and then have years of work to explain what that means. We want them to understand that a gentle and quiet spirit doesn't mean that they walk around whispering all the time. Instead, as the passage in 1 Peter goes on to explain, the holy women of old used to make themselves beautiful by being submissive to their husbands, just as Sarah obeyed her husband, calling him "Lord", and we are her daughters if we do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
I think that much of the work of raising daughters is to teach them that God is trustworthy. Women and girls are so often given to fear - the reason that this passage addresses it. And so, as our daughters grow and face frightening things we tell them over and over again about God's faithfulness throughout all of history. When they're little, they're afraid that they can't possibly survive without eating candy all day or having this particular toy at this particular time. These are good opportunities to tell them that God knows all of their needs far better than they do themselves, and so He has given them a mama and a papa to provide the things for them that they really do need.
Maybe we tell them here about God providing Manna in the wilderness or water from a rock. He really does see and care about the hunger and thirst of his children. As they get older, they face the fears of thunderstorms - good opportunities to remind them that the winds and the waves obey his commands, that the lightening goes where he sends it and reports back to him.
And then there are the fears surrounding difficult relationships in which we teach them that God sees them and their hearts and that they can do what is right whether the other person responds as they'd like or not.
We pray that as they get older and face the fear of seeing the depth of their sin, that they will find God to be trustworthy in that regard as well, so that rather than fall into despair, they will repent and cast themselves on his grace and there find the power and the courage to obey.
These are the kinds of things that will prepare them, we hope, to be godly wives and mothers. We cannot control their lives and protect them from frightening circumstances, but we can teach them that when they are confronted by those things, there is a safe place to go.