Saturday, April 30, 2011

What I Want My Daughter to Know

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

I’ve been pondering something for a while now, and I’m pretty sure I will not be able to write all I want in a short post. Short posts do not seem to be a skill set I have developed yet. I know I haven’t adequately said all I want to here, but I’ve tried to get some of my thoughts organized.

I don’t know if it is that I am relatively new to parenting a girl, my two oldest being boys, or if it is something that truly is growing in our culture, but it seems that there is a whole culture of the ‘princess’ and extreme ‘girly-girlness’ that is not sitting well with me. I briefly mentioned it a while back in passing, but I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit.

First of all, I’m going to state up front that I am glad my girl enjoys dressing up and wearing dresses and pink, and I think it is healthy to engage in ‘dress up’ play and using her imagination, and I want her to embrace true femininity. I like that she is girly. So, this is not going to be some feministic rant about boys and girls being the same or any such nonsense. Boys and girls are different, by God’s design they are different, and I celebrate this. I want my girl to embrace and celebrate who God has designed her to be, and I am not trying to squash her creative playfulness while she is little.

What I am seeing, however, is an extreme version of ‘girliness,’ that too much emphasizes glitter and glam, and what it boils down to, in my opinion, is teaching our little girls that they are so special that the world revolves around them and that they should get whatever they want right when they want it. We are teaching our girls to be so self-centered and spoiled that it turns my stomach. Too much focus on being a princess can be a bad thing, I think. Maybe what I’m saying is I want my girl to be a little more balanced. Much more important than being a princess, I want her to learn to be a girl who honors God.

For instance, it’s okay that pink is her favorite color, and I don’t mind dressing her in pink often, but when she pitches a fit on a given morning because I insist she wear an outfit that is perfectly nice and pretty but doesn’t happen to be pink, then we have a problem. I have a daughter who was born with a sin nature. What she needs is for me to be teaching her that showing disrespect to her mother by throwing a tantrum over little things is not honoring to God. She does not need me excusing her behavior by simpering and saying, “Oh, she’s just such a princess, such a girly-girl,” and then bowing to her whim. She does not need to be appeased, she needs to be taught to obey.

Because she is so interested in princessy things, I recorded the royal wedding yesterday and we enjoyed watching some of the highlights together. It was an absolutely beautiful wedding. She ooh-ed and ahhh-ed over how beautiful everything was, and then I sat her down and we talked about how being a girl who honors God is much more important than being a princess. A woman can be exquisite and classy and beautiful and all that, but if her heart doesn’t belong to Jesus, all the rest is empty. She will be five in a couple of weeks. I am quite sure she doesn’t yet understand what I’m getting at, but I pray that with careful training, she will, one day, understand. And I am realizing that I have not been diligent enough to be driving home the point that how beautiful she is inside is much, much, much more important than how pretty her hair or clothes are.

I have a daughter who is very strong-willed. This is a gift from God, I am convinced of it. But it is a challenge as a mom, I won’t lie. I have noticed recently that her extreme interest in girly-girl pinky princess things is leading to some things that I am realizing I must constantly and immediately address. She is very easily frustrated - typical for her age, but not something to be excused. Lately, when she doesn’t get what she wants or can’t find something she’s ‘needing’ right now, she immediately ratchets up to a screaming fit. I have been taking her aside, every single time, and sitting her down and telling her that her job right now is to obey her mother and father and to learn to be respectful of us and others. This is God’s command for children, to honor their parents. She needs to learn that the world does not revolve around her and to treat others as more important than herself. She needs to learn to ask, gently, for help rather than immediately screech because her will is thwarted. She does not need me to simper and say, “She’s such a little princess,” and excuse away selfish behavior.

Anyway, I was shopping for new Bibles for my kids the other day, and I ran across some Bibles and devotional books that are marketed to girls as princess Bibles and princess devotionals. I will admit to you that I am not a fan of audience-specific Bibles, anyway - youth, boy, girl, women’s, men’s, etc. - and we can discuss that at length another time perhaps. But as to the princess Bibles, I really do not think this is wise. Search Amazon for ‘Princess Bible’ and you’ll see some of what I’m talking about. I don’t doubt that some of the topics covered are probably good - hiding God’s word in our hearts, manners, etc. are all things little girls need encouragement to practice, no argument from me. But I’m not so sure that as Christians we really want to cash in on the princess mentality. (And ‘cash in’ was an intentional word choice.) There is something that, for me, is inherent with the princess mindset that is very self-centered and shallow. I think Disney’s Little Mermaid, Ariel, sums up the knee-jerk reaction I have to the ‘princess’ mindset.....she is spoiled, self-centered, disobeys the direct word of a father who loves her and wants her best, and gets everything she wants at great expense to others who are hurt directly because of her actions - and this is the ‘happily ever after’ ending we are conditioned to want for her.

I want more for my daughter than for her to be a princess. I want more for her than a focus on shallow, worldly, outward things. I want her to know that a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. I want her to know that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. I want her to understand biblical modesty, and that her true adornment is a heart that is seeking truly, diligently after God. I want purity and true beauty to be her passion. I want her to learn to love others and be interested in their needs and in caring for them. I want love for Christ to motivate her. I pray for her that she will understand that being a girl who honors God is so much better than being a princess. And I pray for wisdom to train her well in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And I pray that God, in His mercy, please draw her to Himself and that she will find her fulfillment, satisfaction, and beauty in loving and obeying and enjoying Him forever.


Laura said...

I like your long posts and am always blessed when I read them!
Thank you for this timely reminder to harness those strong wills and girly tendencies and redirect them toward pleasing the Lord as a feminine, meek and inwardly beautiful lady. I was recently challenged in a Bible study to phrase my affirmations of my kids as direct praises of God for the character - physical or otherwise - that HE has wrought in them. Being deliberate in giving the honor to God instead of these precious gifts He created is one way to help counteract that "princess" mentality.

Rebekah said...

Laura, you're always so encouraging. Thank you! I love what you shared here. I'm going to try to start thinking how to do that here and practice it.