Tuesday, June 17

Daughters

I had always imagined myself as a mother of many boys. What a blessing and surprise it was when God sent to us beautiful Annaliese and sweet Eleanora. I don't know what I'd do without my girls! Having sons is one thing I've found, but having daughters is a whole different thing.

We were grocery shopping just last week, all the children and I, when an older man came over to our Annaliese in Walmart and crudely asked her to put up her arms again so he could tickle her. She had been laughing with her brother. She froze and looked at me and then at him again. I gave him my best dirty look, said, "Excuse me," and quickly walked away with the kids, talking gently again about how we NEVER let a stranger touch us. This man was definitely NOT a sweet grandfatherly type and even if he was, my response would have been the same. The entire twenty seconds that this took place I was amazed at the things I wanted to do to this stranger learing at our seven year old daughter!

So yes, having daughters opens my eyes up to new things all the time, causing us to seriously consider what their attire is at the beach, what friends they play with and spend time with, what books they read and movies they watch.
A few years ago I sat on a friends sofa, her house full of friends, and flipped through a fashion magazine on her coffee table while sipping my tea. A little eight year old girl came and sat beside me and began commenting on the photos in the magazine, which outfit she liked and which hairstyles were pretty in her opinion. She went on to tell me how she and two other friends liked to look through one of their moms Victoria Secret catalog and pick out what they wanted to look like and which outfits they liked. I remember sitting there in amazement, knowing two of the mentioned girls parents, and more saddened that the culture had already imposed on them what they needed to look like to consider themselves beautiful.




I want so much more for my daughters. I don't want them to be raised thinking that they are at a disadvantage because of their sex or that they have to masculate their attitudes or attire or conduct. I want to teach our daughters that showing cleavage doesn't make you beautiful, that it just reveals how little you value yourself and lessens the gift you give your husband. I want so much more for them than culture is offering. I want them to believe that most womens magazines aren't worth the paper they are printed on nor do they have the right or wisdom to define femininity or beauty. I want my girls to recognize deception for what it is.

People thinking I'm an oddball to not dress my daughters in ruffled bikinis or that I'm sheltering them by not having Nickelodeon or Disney as a backdrop for our day doesn't bother me. Recently I heard someone mention having cable television on all the time and how he hoped no one considered that to be a sin, I thought: wouldn't a better question would be, "Are you causing your little ones to sin?" Children, and girls in particular, pick up attitudes and learn behaviors very quickly. We aren't anti television but we are very careful of what we set before our children's eyes.

We don't live in a Bible belt or what I'd consider a conservative hot spot and because of that, sometimes I feel overwhelmed. It was so good to talk with Sean about raising girls the other night on the way home, with four of the five sound asleep in the back seats, and then again tonight on our date. We talked about current Christian culture, how so many behaviors and dress and attitudes of the world have filtered into Christianity as acceptable. I want so much more for our daughters.

Not about to dress them plainly or move to the middle of nowhere, my current thoughts have been on ways to expose them to true beauty and false beauty and let them see for themselves the difference. A while back we stood in line at the grocery store behind a gorgeous woman. Gorgeous. A nearly perfect human specimen wearing what would be considered fashionable clothing with her every hair in pristine place. While we waited, she opened her cell phone, dialed and then proceeded to rant and rave and curse at whoever was on the other end. While I wouldn't normally be happy to have our children see someone acting like that, I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and say "thank you." One lesson on beauty learned. The kids were talking about it all the way to the van.

Let me ask you, what do you do to teach your daughters about true beauty? What do you intentionally filter out of their lives or intentionally put in? Do you have any resources or wisdom to pass on to us?

18 comments:

Jessica said...

Oh how I agree with you! My girls are 3 and 1, so I don't have a lot of insight here. Just being aware of the insidious nature of sin and how it (our own and other's sins) affects us all is a really good place to be.

A blog I read regularly is http://virtuealert.blogspot.com/ It's more for moms of teens, but still gives me a lot of info about what my girls will be facing.

~~ said...

What a wonderful post... and so very true. I really needed to hear this today. You can feel alone in your goals. You made me realize I am not. I have to watch my oldest daughter who is easily drawn into the commercial beauty trappings.
Patricia

Jillian said...

Hannah,

It is very refreshing to hear your perspective on raising girls. I have no children of my own, but agree 100% wholeheartedly with this perspective.

I am a teacher (highschool) and my husband is an elementary school teacher. In working with the students at both levels I am always shocked at how parents encourage/let their children dress. We took our 4th graders to the pool at my highschool for a 3 week kayaking camp - we talked to the kids beforehand about modesty and that if the girls had two-piece bathing suits they needed to wear a t-shirt over them. They (thankfully) all followed our instructions - but I was absolutely floored at the suits some of these girls showed up with. I cannot even imagine allowing my daughter to be in public wearing something so skimpy! Its a real problem in this area! These girls will all likely have self-image/self-worth issues in the future. Its so sad.

Kim said...

Excellent post, I have some of the same feelings while out shopping with my daughters. I see the eyes of men looking at them and I want to cringe. These girls are dressed modestly, we must never give in to the idea that, " it's only what is in the heart that matters " What we wear, reveals what is in our heart. You are a wise mother to begin very early instilling these truths.

wholefoodsfamily.wordpress.com said...

Wonderful post.

I'm a mama to one boy, no girls, but have similar concerns nonetheless. Also, how will the girls of this culture influence my son? We must be prepared for that as well.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss has done some wonderful studies on modesty, and is a great resource to look into for those mamas wanting to delve more deeply into this.

Jaime

Pam said...

Raising Maidens of Virtue by Stacy MacDonald is one very good book to read together for early teens. We keep fashion type magazines out of our home, and I throw catalogs away (except for perhaps LL Bean LOL)! Our big *secret* is to keep our girls (and guys!) away from the culture as much as possible and to talk, talk, talk about what we see as compared to God's word. Your post is right on!!!

New Mom said...

Great post Hannah. I don't have a daughter, and to be honest, I'm kind of scared to try to raise one in this society. I am AMAZED at what people allow their sweet and innocent girls to wear. I know that it will be challenging teaching my daughter that being "in" doesn't necessarily equate to being the best {or most appropriately} dressed.

Oh I'd like to give that dirty old man a punch in the eye.

The Quiet Life said...

I have been thinking on this subject a lot lately. I have always dressed modestly, but still over the last couple of years, I have changed the way I dress just slightly. In the process, my two girls started wanting to dress more like me. They (7 &9) even have turned down inappropriate clothing from grandparents. I'm so proud of them! Even my son (5) began to tell them to cover up and scolds them when they say things not befitting a nice young lady. Even dressed modestly, our daughters and ourselves can be looked at with not the best intentions. It's very scary, stay safe.

Tiffany said...

Thank you! It is so refreshing to read that other families are also training their children (especially daughters) to recognize true beauty when they see it.

Tiffany

Hannah said...

Thank you, Jessica, for pointing me to the Virtue Alert blog. I enjoyed scrolling through it last night.
Patricia, our oldest daughter is the same way and I have to so careful not to just squash her opinions or tell her she's wrong to think such and such or like such and such. It doesn't come naturally to me to calmly say, "oh, really, why do you think that is pretty?" and take time to talk through things with her. I'm working on it.
Jillian, I've heard fourth graders talk about dieting, so I know what you mean.
Kim, you are so right. I truly believe that the way we dress and present ourselves reflects what is in our hearts.
Jaime,
I also feel concern for our boys, knowing the strggles boys and ,en have being visually oriented. We're trying to teach our boys, even at their young ages to bounce their eyes when they see something immodest or something that wouldn't please God.
Pam, I have heard of the McDonald book and plan on reading it!
New Mom, I understand how you feel. I don't want our daughters to feel like I am withholding good things from them by not letting them be the culturally trendiest.
Quiet life, you must feel so happy, as I do, when your daughters recognize immodest clothing!
Thanks, Tiffany. It is so nice to know that we are all not alone!

Laura said...

Great post! I totally agree!

Borbe Bunch said...

Thank you for what you wrote...I also have two daughters who are so very treasured...my husband and I talk and pray for wisdom in raising them to be pure and wise in their choices...always instructing them to go to God's Word for guidance...we have certain rules about their dress, but yes, still they are beautiful little girls and so precious to us...we pray for their safety and for our God given privilege in keeping them safe and focused on true beauty of a pure heart, inner beauty...
I enjoy your blog and consider it a blessing to have your wisdom and honest heart to read from time to time.
God bless and keep up the good work of training your sweet daughters...

Hailey's Beats and Bits said...

hi hannah. this is a very enlightening post. I mentioned it on my blog. i got three girls that why i have nothing to say but "amen" to this! how's chase?

Leah said...

We are currently expecting our fourth child. We have 3 precious sons so far and pray that the Lord may choose to bless us with a daughter(s) in the future. In fact, this baby blessing may be a little girl! :) We'll know for sure in about 4.5 months.

The best book I've read on raising godly and feminine daughters is "So Much More" by Elizabeth and Anna Sophia Botkin. I can't recommend this book highly enough! I've lent my copy to a friend and can hardly wait to get it back so I can read through it again myself.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 is one of my favorite passages. It reads, "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates." The Lord has blessed us with a simple, agrarian lifestyle out in the middle of nowhere. We have a small, organic dairy farm and grow large gardens. We don't have a TV but we love spending time together both indoors and out! I think one of the greatest blessings we can give our children is our time and attention. By keeping our children involved in everything that we do we give them a sense of purpose and have the opportunity to share with them all about God, His Word, His beautiful creation, etc. What better way to teach our children about our faith than when they are sitting down, walking along the way, lying down, and rising up.

Lynn said...

Hannah, I appreciated your insightful post. I am with you. I try very hard to model modesty and self-respect before my daughter, but I find the messages from news stands in local stores, from other girls her age, and from various media sources to be almost overwhelming!!

I think many mothers feel powerless at times and it's more just a matter of not knowing what to do than it is purposefully permitting a less-than-modest presentation of our children. Thank you for sharing your views on this and for encouraging others to take a stand in the area of modesty!

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Very well said. I'm so proud to hear such good sense. Thank you.

New Mom said...

Oh goodness, I hope I communicated my comment clearly. What I was trying to say is that I aim to teach my daughter that not everything that is "in" is appropriate or even beautiful. I'm not sure I made that clear :)

Elise said...

Well said!! I have a daughter that I want to instill a sense of God's worth to her and that she is beautiful no matter what she wears. We dress modestly and I am appalled at the things my sister-in-law wears and her mom thinks its ok. At Christmas, she had on a dress(if you want to call it that) that looked like a nighty and barely covered her bottom. I don't want my 3 year old looking at that and thinking its okay. It is so sad how little girls today wear. My husband was just discussing this with his men's group last night and about how hard it is in church to concentrate when all you see is thongs and cleavage.
I DO live in the Bible belt, but I don't think that matters much these days.
Your blog is so refreshing!!
Elise