Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Let your girls be ladies.
So, this is a relatively easy one for me. I am the mother of a VERY feminine, VERY girly, VERY estrogen-driven female. (I am bracing myself for the testosterone that is coming in March.) Girliness comes easily to Abi. She is completely and totally afraid of all things reptilian or with antennae, never had to be told not to stick something in a light socket, and hasn't eaten a single stick or blade of grass in her entire life.
She's SUCH a girl.
And while it's easy to raise a girl like Abi in a million ways, I am also acutely aware that she is constantly watching me, patterning herself after me in ways that often frighten me. And this fact causes me to be more vigilant about training her to be a lady on purpose.
I love the picture above. For one thing, I am SO TIRED of one gender or the other being blamed for the downfall of our society's values and ethics. When God put man and woman in the Garden, He told THEM, as in male AND female, to be fruitful and multiply... told THEM to work together... told THEM to rule and have dominion in the earth. So, women-- to blame men for the world's problems is only 50% of the story. And men-- vice versa.
I am all about parenting on purpose. Yes, there are many moments just "caught" that our children get by the natural ebb and flow of a household living together. However, there is nothing worthy of "catching" if the parents' core values and beliefs aren't lining up with the Word of God... the ULTIMATE Old School. Here's the part where many of my more "new school" readers will tune me out, stomp their feet in protest, and think I came from the Dark Ages.
I'm okay with that. ;-)
Parents, if you're raising a daughter, please hear me out.
While I am all, and I mean ALL about raising my daughter to be equal to any man, I am VERY aware that she is not capable of doing the same things he can do. I am aware that even though she is strong, decisive, and brilliant, there are some things that God naturally designed her to default to a man for... to let him lead her in many ways. This is not about finding her a gender appropriate job-- if she for some bizarre reason wants to be a mechanic, more power to her. We'll send her to the best mechanic school on the planet. (However, I am totally convinced a woman shouldn't be President... so sue me.) This is about cultivating female qualities inside her. Making her into a true lady, whether she is a teacher, a race care driver (please, Lord, no), a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker.
So what qualities should we bring forth in our young ladies? What are the morals and cores that we hope she catches from us? What are we preparing her to be?
Humility. This is a virtue sadly misunderstood by the world as a whole. We take humility to mean being beaten down, oblivious to our strengths, and always taking the backseat to someone else's desires or wishes. Not the case at all. Humility is simply the art of knowing that even though you ARE all that and a bag of chips, you don't have to prove it to anyone. Your life itself will show how awesome you are. Humility is a mom choosing to stay home and rear her children, though she has a college degree on her wall. Humility is wiping up vomit from the bathroom floor and washing it from the hair of a sleepy two year old, even though Daddy slept right through it. Humility is a homecooked meal in the evening, even though both parents worked just as hard that day. Humility is a heart felt apology, even when she knows she's right. Humility is admitting you're not physically strong enough to move the entertainment center by yourself and asking your husband for help. It's knowing your strengths and being very familiar with your weaknesses. Humility is a crowning jewel of any confident woman.
Modesty. A friend of mine recently sent me a message on facebook, telling me she was buying underwear for her daughter... a little girl, size 5/6. She found underwear in that tiny little girl size that said, "Girls Rule, Boys Drool" on them. SERIOUSLY? Why in the HECK should a 5/6 year old's underwear say ANYTHING other than the days of the week? I'll tell you why. Society is programming our daughters to showcase their bodies instead of their beauty. They are teaching our girls from kindergarten that there's no harm in being "confident" (which isn't really confidence if you have to flaunt it, btw) in your sexuality... no repercussions for being precocious and mature beyond her years. I may be in the 1% of people who feel this way (and again, I'm okay with that), but I have a problem with sweatpants that have writing on the butt that girls wear in public! Why is it ok to dress my daughter, whether she's 5 or 17 in clothing that draw attention to her rear end or her breasts? Wise up, parents! It's the "little foxes" that spoil the vine. I'm not saying we dress our girls like they live on a cultish compound, nor am I saying we shouldn't teach them to be confident with their body image. What I AM saying is that a modest girl or woman doesn't need to advertise what's underneath those clothes! Leave something for boys to wonder about! If we can instill in our girls where true beauty comes from, she won't need to have the word PINK written on her butt when she goes to Wal-Mart. She'll turn heads by the way she treats the cashier or thanks the pharmacist. Which takes me to the next virtue...
Thankfulness. Kids complain-- ALL. THE. TIME. And about everything. This isn't fair, that's not fair, she got more than me, he's being rude to be, I hate my teacher, school is stupid, this is cheesy... I HATE COMPLAINING. And I do not tolerate it. When Abi tries to complain (which isn't often because we don't foster this environment in our home), we immediately thrust the responsibility on her to do two things. 1- Find something to be thankful about in that situation, and 2- Be a part of the solution. Fostering an atmosphere of negativity and complaint fosters entitlement mentalities, and takes the joy right out of life. Where do we get this idea that life can only be enjoyed if all the stars line up correctly? I love the verse found in Ecclesiastes that says, "If you wait for perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done." A heart of unthankfulness makes us think we can't enjoy life unless A+B =C. Sometimes A+B= X and we must find ways to be thankful in any equation. If thankfulness is missing from your daughter's life (or son's or YOURS), be thankful on PURPOSE. MAKE yourself notice the simple things that you tend to breeze by and then point them out to your children, outloud. Trees, flowers, cooler weather, a clean house, hot food on the table, and freedom to worship God as we choose. Talked about those things lately?
Manners. Okay, seriously. MANNERS, PEOPLE. First of all, you can't expect your daughter to have manners if you're calling her a stupid idiot, or telling her to shut up. Practice what you preach. I blog about this alot, I know. But I can tell you from both sides of the equation how much manners matter... both as an educator for ten years and as a parent. GREAT FAVOR is given to children who exemplify a heart of kindness and consideration toward others. "Yes, ma'am," "No, sir," and "Hi, Mr. Tommy" are ways that apparantly just cavemen spoke. Lately, two children have asked Abi why she says, "Yes, ma'am" while talking to me. That makes me sad. Our children are CERTAINLY equal to us as humans, and CERTAINLY in the eyes of God. Their value is equal to the oldest person alive. But they are NOT our peers, and we're not teaching them to "respect their elders..." Especially in the way they speak to us. End of story.
Diligence. Recently, I walked into Abi's room to find her clothes strewn out in about five different directions. I said to her, "I do not mind picking up your clothes for you. IF you're willing to pay me 50 cents for every piece I pick up." Needless to say, I didn't pick up any clothes. Oh, you know the moments. Your kid is in Publix with you. She gets a box of cereal and runs up to you with it... "Mom, can we get this cereal?" You say no. She sticks it on the nearest shelf. Not a big deal, or so it seems. However, diligence says we put it back where it belongs because someone will have to. Or, she gets home and kicks her shoes off in front of the TV, where they stay all evening. When it's time for the bedtime cleanup, you're tempted to pick her shoes up and put them near the door where they belong. Diligence says, "Please put your shoes by the door so you know where they are in the morning." Or, come homework time, and the complaining begins. A "typical" response is to let her grumble because, after all... what kid loves homework? Diligence says, "If you'd like to complain, that's fine. When you've finished this page, I'm going to toss it in the trash and let you try it all again. And we'll do this over and over until you can do it without complaining." Sounds tough, I know. But fact is, one day we won't be available to pick up shoes and monitor attitudes. We've got to get them trained both inside AND out by then.
The ability to love her man. This topic alone could go on all day. But I'll be succinct. Teaching her how to attract him into her life and let the bugs drop where they lay. Teaching her to rely on her man without being codependent on him. Teaching her to be weak so he can be strong. Teaching her WHEN to be strong. Teaching her to care for her home, his castle. Teaching her to build him up with her words. Teaching her how to cook so she'll knock him off his feet and win his heart in the process. Teaching her how to let him chase her... how to actually draw the chase OUT of him toward her. Teaching her how to put her foot down when she needs to. Teaching her how to partner with him and walk alongside him but at the right times letting him take the lead. Teaching her to love him- heart, soul, body, and with her very life.
Of course there's more. The scope of womanhood encompasses so many emotions and so many roles. But back to the original picture at the top of this post.
By training our ladies to be ladies... even if that means she climbs trees in her spare time, we are training her to naturally cause the men around her to step into their rightful roles as gentlemen. Her inward beauty will evoke the best from him. Oprah Winfrey once said, "We teach people how to treat us." Parents, here's our wake up call. Train your young ladies to live their lives so that the thugs and wanna-bes that will try to catch her heart will merely fall to the wayside as she moves forward in her womanhood. If we train her to BE the right person, she will DRAW the right person to her.
It's really that simple. Honest.