Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Raising a Daughter Now

I’m raising a daughter in a culture that barely knows which way is up.  Many of you are too.  Every single day, there seems to be new opportunity to throw up my hands in disbelief or exasperation--not at her, but at a world that inundates our girls with all things counter to purity, loveliness, modesty, lady likeness and the value of family.  Sometimes I feel like crying-- or screaming.  What I see and hear gives me a renewed passion to PRAY that my kids would have an insatiable HUNGER and THIRST for righteousness.  It’s the best defense... or offense depending on the way you look at it.  Of course, culture is after our boys too but one thing at a time here.  Remember, I don’t multi-task well.

I remember taking one of my first road trips with Jeff.  At the first pit stop, I purchased a couple of magazines.  At home, we subscribed to Better Homes and Gardens and, of course, Southern Living.  I always wanted something different for the road, something I would never subscribe to so out of the gas station I came with probably Glamour and Vanity Fair-- something like that.  I don’t know how far down I-20 we got before Jeff started asking me questions about the magazines, but it wasn’t long.  Finally, our conversation ended with his asking me to think about just not ever looking at those types of magazines again.  He did his best to explain his thoughts on beauty, expectations, expending time and energy on what is temporary etc.  In my early 20’s I don’t think I got it but his challenge resonated in me and so I just never bought those magazines again.  With a few {almost 21} years of hindsight, I have been so grateful.  At 42, I get it.  And with an 11 year old, formulating her ideas of beauty, noticing my every minute and watching every move I make in front of the mirror, I get it.

Over the years I have been very aware of the unattainable attractiveness portrayed, not just in magazines but now, ALL OVER THE PLACE.  Billboards, newspaper ads, catalogs that land in our mail box, commercials, side bars on the internet, shopping malls and even radio ads that advertise surgeries and procedures of all kinds to "improve" ourselves.  She sees them, hears them and she has valid, impressionable thoughts about each and every one.  And unfortunately, it’s not only about the clothes, the makeup, the skin, the physical features, but it’s just as much as what the models are communicating with the looks on their faces.  Beauty?  Hardly.  All of that doesn’t compute with her but it does make her feel strange and I know because she tells me.  These sultry looks~ and that is putting it mildly~ are hard to explain to young girls.  I am sure they wonder what it’s all about.  The best I’ve done is to try to explain that there is nothing wrong with those “looks” but that those attitudes are reserved for husband and wife and that it won’t be long before she understands that more fully.  Not long enough, I tell you.  I despise all of these distractions, potholes, TRAIN WRECKS that fill her vision as she is figuring it all out.  She’s asking, What will beauty mean to me?  Am I beautiful?  How much time will I spend on it?  Will I learn to be content in my own skin?  And a big one, how has my mom dealt with it all these years...... and how will she in the years to come?
{And Daddys out there, I just have to say, you have so much to do with how all of us girls answer these questions.  I beg you, BE a part of these conversations.}

I talked to a godly women in her late 70’s the other night who had lost both of her daughter-in-laws to divorce.  These women, each of whom had served faithfully in the church and were devoted mothers and wives, walked out on this lady’s sons.  The women left their husbands and children after at least 20 years of marriage.  Both women had rekindled high school sweethearts on Facebook and had allowed the hook of the world to penetrate deeply..... completely rearranging their priorities and devotion to their families.  Can Glamour magazine do that?  Or Facebook?  No, but I do believe those shifts in our heart’s devotions start somewhere eventually leading to a choice whether to cross the line or not.  If the shift can begin with a Vanity Fair magazine, I don’t want it anywhere near me.   Just think about it.  And proceed wisely.  And cautiously.

Charm is DECEPTIVE {delusive - deceitful - delusory - false - misleading} and beauty is FLEETING {transient - transitory - fugitive - ephemeral - passing}, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.  {express warm approval or admiration, respect and gratitude}

Can we cast a vision to our daughters of what it means to be praised by her family and close friends?  To let her in on how amazing warm approval or admiration from ONE man is?  Can we express how extremely satisfying it is to be respected and to receive thoughtful gratitude from those we know?  We all know this has nothing to do with the product with which we wash our hair, the color of our eye shadow or the purse on our hip.  I have to ask myself REGULARLY, what am I communicating on a daily basis?  What does she see that’s important to me?  My hair or my heart?  Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?   That’s because it is.

God wants to be our Teacher in this.  He knows our hearts.  He knows what our girls need.  I just need to spend more time asking him and listening.  When I start feeling like this, He reminds me of the verse, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. {2 Peter 1:3}  In 2013 and beyond, Julia has everything she needs in this life to live it out in a godly way.  I think, for some of that time, because I am her mother, I am big part of that.

And because of that, I need Him more than ever.

I am reading Vicki Courtney’s book, 5 Conversations You Must Have with your Daughter.  I have only read the first conversation which is “You are more than the sum of your parts.” which covers all aspects of physical appearance, the culture’s powerful influence and ways to keep the conversation open with your girls.  She’s candid, practical, and her research is impressive.  I highly recommend it.


Sarah said...

Ugh. It's such a messy world. Maybe it'll be easier to stand out Bc the lines are less fuzzy. But goodness, I'm thankful for these perspectives raising boys. Julia had a great example in you.

Elaine said...

Loved this post and would love to discuss this in person some time. I'm having all the same thoughts, although mine aren't as well thought out as yours.

Jenn @ A Simple Haven said...

Such good words for me to hear as a mom to a little girl (age 3, also named Julia :)). Thanks for sharing your heart here!
PS, noticed on your profile that you're a fan of The Shadowlands--love it! :)

andrea said...

I will mark this book down for years that are coming up soon. I am so glad you share your experiences and your help. The ladies in the bible study today are sharing their teenage children stories (anorexia and other terrible struggles) and boy I am nervous about those years.

Isabel watches me put on makeup. She really wants to put it on and a 4 year old with makeup looks silly so I say no. She asked 'why can't i put it on' and i told her little girls look lovely just the way they are and she didn't need any'
she then told me I was lovely so why was I putting it on?! made me think, how to explain it to her. I couldn't come up with a good reason so i kept quiet.

On a lighter side...I know I need to dress up more often. A couple of weeks ago I went to a going away party for a girlfriend and my 2 year old Oliver asked me, 'Mom are we going to church?' The only time they see me in a dress is on Sunday! made me laugh.

Krista Sanders said...

SW-- So glad to know you are raising your "house full of boys" as men of honor and respect!!
Elaine-- would LOVE to hear your thoughts
Jenn--Thanks for reading-- I look forward to spending some time on your blog
Andrea-I recommend you read the book now-- the conversation and the impressions have already begun! Yes-- get it! ; ) Love you far away friend!