Developing a secure, confident identity is not easy for women today, and I suspect it never has been easy through the ages. The challenge for parents with their daughters is affirming God-created female traits apart from social norms or stereotypical roles. Our concept and understanding of God’s intentions is often clouded by our culture, our experiences, and by our selfishness.
Before the fall, in the Garden of Eden, both Adam and Eve were commanded to do three things: 1) subdue and rule the earth; 2) get married; and 3) reproduce godly offspring. God intended for both man and woman to cooperate in obeying all three of these commands. But clearly our biological differences from creation indicate differences in the application of His commands.
After the Garden of Eden, God gave clear instructions regarding men and women in marriage and in the church, wisdom for how to relate to one another as fellow believers.
With the age of marriage increasing every year, (the average age for women is now 27) our daughters must know how to live on their own if they don’t get married young or ever and relate with wisdom to men whether married or unmarried.
This is heady theological stuff, but I strongly believe all women, especially moms, need to be budding theologians because so much of what moms do daily is communicate God’s values and His truth to her children in everyday life. So how does this little look-see back at the Garden shape your daughter?
Here are three ways you can affirm your daughter’s femininity.
1. Affirm her female inspired instincts as she expresses herself and her interests in her growing up years. If she loves dolls and playing house, affirm that. If she’s more interested in playing fast pitch softball, affirm that. Her interests are early indicators of both what she loves and what strengths reside in her.
Remember, Eve was made to lead and rule cooperatively with Adam. That quality did not disappear after sin, but was changed by sin into something that has be misused and misunderstood. Girls can exercise rulership/leadership responsibilities in the spheres God gives them.
One of our granddaughters has been playing soccer for years and is very good at it. She also has an amazing love for children and has spent a week every summer with her twin cousins, who are almost six years younger and live in another state. Gabby plays with them, loves on them, does crafts with them, and they all three sleep together every night of the week. Her parents invest in helping her do what she does best, both loving others and competing in soccer. We all look forward to watching the plans God has for this wonderful going-on-fourteen-year-old.
2. Recognize that your daughters were “fashioned” by God, not made, which is a distinctive of women that was not accidental. Every word of God is inspired, which includes this word indicating God created a special beauty in women, the pinnacle of His creation, setting her apart from men.
Not all women love beauty, just as not all men love hunting. But there is a generally greater inclination toward this quality. So rather than fear your daughter will be too focused on her outward beauty, ask God to give you wisdom and balance as you help her appreciate how God made her and wired her. At the same time teach, guide, and nurture a heart of beauty, which will last after external beauty fades.
It’s okay to tell your daughter she is beautiful as long as that isn’t the only quality you compliment. It’s not just her looks that are beautiful but her acts of love, service, compassion, generosity, and more. Name deeds of kindness and love as a beautiful thing too. So don’t react or parent her out of fear, but get your signals and cues from God and His values.
3. Compliment and emphasize her creational gifting. Women were fashioned with the ability to create life, grow that life for nine months, nurse and feed that child, and continue to nurture life in that little person for years and years. While men can and do have a part in creating new life and in encouraging life in their spheres of influence at work, church, and home, their nurturing responsibility is much more supportive to the primary life giving work of women.
It is an amazing privilege and cooperative partnership with God Himself to create new little people who will fill the earth. Likely your daughter will display hints of this desire to create and nurture life as she grows up and these are to be complimented by moms and dads. She needs to hear her God-given instincts are good, valuable, and worth developing.
Your daughter is growing up in an age of unparalleled opportunities for females. She will have advantages even above some men in her lifetime. Keep her grounded in the qualities that God values.
And remember the differences God made in us as men and women were meant to function cooperatively, in harmony, not in isolation from one another as male and female. There is a responsiveness, men to women and women to men, that is important in becoming all He meant for us to be. God made us to need one another for thousands of reasons, many we will never know. Teach your daughters and sons to celebrate and enjoy both their equality in the image of God and their God-given differences as male and female.
And last, your marriage is always a model for your children. What they see over the years in your relationship is crucial and foundational for their future should God call them to marriage too.
So ask God for the wisdom only He can give to properly encourage your daughter’s ultimate development into the woman He desires her to be. Knowing God’s intentions, His design is the key to raising healthy, beautiful young women who can change the world in their generation.