Day 26 #30DaysChivalry Daughters, Development, Dating and Mr. Darcy (Part One Of A Three Part Series On How I Reluctantly Instructed My Daughters)
In the 21st century, it is really easy to lament the loss of chivalry and good manners and point fingers at disrespectful young men. I believe, however, that young women could stand a lesson or two also. I believe that young women today often are not taught well. They are taught that they are worthless, that they are objects, that they have only their bodies with which to gain attention, that being like a man is a good thing, that traditional roles have no value. I would much rather my daughters learn that they have dignity, that they are beautiful because of who they are not because of their appearance, and that they weren’t created to be like men at all. I also believe that if women fully understood this, then they would demand better behavior of the young men around them and we might see a revival in chivalrous ideals.
Perhaps I’m naive. Perhaps I’m overly simplistic. Perhaps I adhere too much to the adage if everyone swept their own doorstep, then the whole world would be clean. Nevertheless, I’ve decided the way to change the world for the better is to teach my own three daughters how to hold their heads up high. This is, however, far harder than it seems. Over the next three days, I will be posting about the strategy I took as I began instruction with my daughters about the way they see themselves. This is how I started a conversation that I hope continues until they either marry or move out. I don’t have a formal plan, I just grab teachable moments and do my best.
God knew what he was doing when he gave me three daughters. Quite frankly, I thought all along, back in those innocent pre-baby days, that I would be a much better mother to boys than girls. I didn’t have a lot of positive role models in this department. Boys, I reckoned, would be easier.
But that first ultrasound revealed to me we would be swathed in pink, instead of blue. I questioned God in this. Didn’t he know my weakness? He did, he assured me. God told me that he was planning on doing something amazing with me and my girls. Girls, he said. Plural.
And I have to tell you, after being a mom of daughters for nearly fifteen years, he is doing something amazing. I have a great relationship with all three of them, and it’s only going to get better.
When the subject of body development approached, I was hesitant again. Hesitant isn’t the right word. Freaking out is a better one. Boys, see, would be easier. They can talk to Daddy. But again, God had a plan. He wanted me to trust him. He gave me the ideas, the opportunity and the grace to teach my girls about what to expect as women.
This is what I did.
One weekend, when my girls were 8 and 9 (the youngest was still a baby, so I get to do this all over again when she gets old enough. Yay me.) the boys were at Grammy’s and my husband was out of town and I decided to have the talk. I was very nervous. All of the instruction I had received about sexual development and dating life were given to me by my misinformed, foolish peers. I don’t want my girls to get their information the same way.As a mother, I should be the primary instructor to my girls about this matter. I shouldn’t outsource it. I shouldn’t put my girls in a position where they want another teacher besides me. I have to do this even though it makes me squeamish. I have to trust God.
I decided over the course of the weekend, I would have four “sessions” in which we would sit at the table over candlelight and discuss one specific topic: God’s Plan for Marriage, Your Changing Body, How Babies Get Here and Wise Dating. Does this sound intimidating? It did to me too. It was all I could do to not cringe in the bathroom and remind God how I didn’t think I could do daughters in the first place. Then he reminded me that he was going to do something amazing. And to trust him.
So, I swallowed my fear. It sat like a lump in my stomach and I called my daughters to the table. I also lit a candle and told them that this was a very special talk. They were excited, not frightened. They wanted to hear what I had to say. They weren’t ashamed or squeamish or afraid. That alone was enough to make me brave.
The first concept that I wanted my daughters to understand was the big picture: Marriage. What does God think about all of this? I drew a picture of a house. Inside it I drew a stick man and a stick woman. They were holding hands and a heart was above them. Note: I drew stick people because it is an easy way for me to communicate. Moms, find out what works for you and do it. You don’t have to copy my methods.
There were some concepts that I wanted my girls to understand.
- God started with family. Families are his mini-kingdoms. In the best of circumstances, families have structures and order and exhibit the qualities of God. Adam and Eve could have been born babies, but they weren’t. They were born adults, ready to create a family.
- Marriage is important to God. He views marriage as sacred and when we have weddings, we’re doing something serious. A bride and a groom not only make promises to each other, but to God also, that they will take their roles seriously. A marriage is not something that can be torn apart easily, and when it is torn apart, or not respected as it should, it is painful, difficult and sorrowful.
- Children are a blessing within marriage. Children are a reward from God and the best situation is when children are brought into the world within the framework of a marriage. This structure is there for a reason. This provides the maximum security and happiness and health for a baby. If a man or a woman decides to bring a baby into the world and the structure of marriage is not there, it is not God’s best. It is not what God fully intends for his people. It is always wiser to do things God’s way.
- Your bodies are designed for marriage and family. Everything that makes you a girl is getting you ready to be a mother. You need to respect your body because you will need it. You will bear children. You will feed them with your body. You will nurture and love them. God wants you to do this well, and he’s equipping you to be a great mother. He has lots of blessings in store for you as you grow into this role.
- The more you choose to do things God’s way, the more blessed you will be. If are foolish and decide to have you babies first and then get married, it will cause you a lot of heartache. If you choose to abuse your body or act as if you are married and you are not, then you are asking for suffering and pain. The good news is that God loves us no matter what happens to us. But we should be wise and not foolish.
These were the basic truths I wanted my daughters to understand. They received them with enthusiasm and a lot of questions. I answered some of them then, but the rest would wait until the next session. This was enough for the first day. I was already exhausted.
But God was right. He did do something amazing. I felt like these truths brought an excitement for growing up to my kids. Unlike me, they were facing puberty and adolescence with hope and faith that God knows what he’s doing and they can trust him. Even at 8 and 9, they had a vision for family and motherhood. They already could see the wisdom in doing things God’s way. This was exactly what I was hoping for.
Tomorrow, I’ll share what I did in the next two sessions: Your Changing Body and How Babies Get Here. Are you nervous? Join the club!