Highlands Blog

How to Raise Girls Who Are Neither Feminists nor Doormats

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Posted in Highlands Blog under Family, Parenting, Women

Mother and girl together with glasses on.

A Girl’s Life

Your daughter is being poisoned by toxic messages concerning her womanhood, her value, and her place in the world. She didn’t ask to be born into a battleground, but she most certainly has been. She is consuming a contradictory hash of feminist propaganda and caricatured notions of biblical womanhood that is likely to produce either anger or emotional desperation that will leave her malnourished. As she grows, she will be confronted by questions and frustrations within her culture and the church which will require biblical rather than politically correct or cliché answers.

When it comes to the sexes, we as Christians have a tendency to either ape the world’s gender-confused ideas, or pine for the good old days when moms like June Cleaver lived on every block. Neither of these mindsets are going to help your daughter steel herself for the conflict she will surely find while living the life of a biblical woman or give her the courageous heart that she needs to live a God-honoring life.

Surprising Women

If we page through our Bibles seeking God-fearing women, we see some things that are jarring to our conservative sensibilities. Jael put a tent peg through a bad guy’s head to the glory of God. The Hebrew midwives refused to obey the ruling authority when told to kill male Hebrew babies, and proceeded to lie about it later. God rewarded their dissembling. When Israelite families were rebuilding the wall and gates around Jerusalem, Nehemiah names men who added their muscle to the effort, and then comes to, “Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters” (Nehemiah 3:12). There were nobles who “put not their necks to the work of their Lord,” but Shallum and his daughters rolled up their sleeves and got busy. In Acts we find that Priscilla not only partnered with her husband Aquila in his trade of tentmaking, she assisted in the ministry as well, displaying the extent of her understanding and her personal investment in their mutual work for the kingdom.

These women had something that kept their courage strong and their devotion true when they were called on to do the work the Lord gave them, no matter what it was. They were collaborators with their families and the people of God in the building of the kingdom. They invested their labor in things of eternal importance and earthly usefulness.

Though it is likely that these ladies spent many days managing things that would fit more comfortably in the category of housework, they didn’t resist “putting their necks to the work of their Lord” when called on at pivotal moments—not even when it seemed like a dirty “boy job.” They had skill and understanding and gumption. This is not feminism creeping in; this the faithfulness of women who know who their God is and are trusting Him instead of their circumstances. Instead of pursuing lives that were merely self-fulfilling, they threw their lot in with their families and God’s people to live kingdom-fulfilling lives.

Raising Girls for Real Life

Our circumstances are fickle. As we grow up we sustain disappointment: college wasn’t the sure thing to set us on track to a happy life that everyone claimed it would be; Prince Charming was poorer, or shorter, or later, than anticipated; that dream job didn’t just drop into our lap; and no matter how often we do the dishes, someone still comes around with a dirty spoon just after we drain the last of the suds from the sink.

We find that life is unpredictable and neither feminist narcissism nor nostalgic grasping will prepare girls for the reality of their world now or in the future. When girls are persistently told that the primary value of all their work lies in its ability to prepare them for marriage or the ability to give them independence and autonomy, they are taught that their purpose and value are circumstance dependent. People of faith do not garner strength from their circumstances, but from their trust in the God who is Lord over their circumstances.

Daughters with Vision

You can lift your daughter’s vision to a higher hope which gives her context for the whole of her life. A hope which reminds her that her labor matters because Christ has overcome the world and everything she does in obedience to Him is making His victorious kingdom visible on earth. Glory be to Him!

The work we have is hard, but it doesn’t have to be done alone. This is the beauty of family! Join your talents and personalities, your time and your labor, find things to work at together. Talk about your work, even the mundane activities, with language that speaks of your cooperation as a family and the eternal value of work done unto the Lord. Involve your daughters, for they have much to contribute.

My family is, I suppose, somewhat unusual. Our home has always been a place of industry. We have a family business which requires all of us pitching in at times. My father has also always had a vision for doing things of eternal importance in this world, and so we work at various ministry projects together. It was in assisting him with his first book that I found I had a talent for design, and pursued further education. This in turn has led me to many other opportunities for using those skills in work, family projects, and in service to the church. Over the years, as our skills have grown, we have found that there is no shortage of opportunities for “putting our necks to the work of the Lord.”

What’s the Solution?

The antivenom for the poison of feminist thinking is to be about the business of building the kingdom of Christ—you and your children. Involve them in the work, introduce them to the battlefields of our culture while they still have your protection, give them responsibilities that will require commitment.

The impact of the Christian family can and should be felt worldwide. This is a mammoth responsibility which leaves no room for an every-man-for-himself mentality. When we look at the members of our households, we should see co-laborers in the unified mission of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.

I can’t tell you exactly where to start—your family will have different personalities, talents, and opportunities than mine does. The point here isn’t for me to map out a specific plan for your family, but only to remind you that if you have a daughter who you want to be a woman with a strong heart and courageous soul like Jael, Priscilla, and the daughters of Shallum, she needs to be invested in things greater than waiting for a husband or grasping after autonomous self-fulfillment.

Each day is not preparation for a future we’ve selected for ourselves, but our daily contribution to the kingdom of God, and preparation for the days and events which come from the hand of the One who knows the future. The icing to living in this kingdom-minded manner is that if you raise your daughter to be a Priscilla, well then, her fulfillment will be in Christ rather than herself—blessed will be the man who binds his life to hers, and blessed will be your household as long as she calls it home.

Are you fostering a kingdom-mindset in your girls? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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