In this episode, Dr. Gilbert continues to address how we address the issues of femininity and gender.
How would you define femininity and womanhood? Would your description include their bodies, personalities, actions, or character? Do you think of cooking and cleaning, pornography, empowerment, or something else? Your definition matters.
My goal is to expose some of your ways of thinking as a mom or dad about womanhood and femininity, so that you can lead with intentionality and forethought. Much of what occurs today in conversation about femininity is not well thought through and is reactionary. Some is abusive and offensive. I am saddened as a father and husband by the narrowing definition of identity centered on their body. The church’s definition has not been much better when it limits women with a strict definition linked solely to a woman’s role as wife, mother, and homemaker.
How do we counteract this as parents of daughters and sons who will be marrying one day?
Think about your own story and how the lies you were exposed to and believed impacted how you view God, yourself, sin, marriage, children, emotions, and your circumstances. We want out daughters’ foundational beliefs about themselves and their bodies to be based on TRUTH and not the lies she may be tempted to believe.
We should educate our daughters on the complexity of the endocrine system and that the food she eats, her exposure to toxins, and the fluctuating hormones in her body will affect her mood and outlook on life. She will battle addictions, anxiety, and the comparison trap.
Your daughter’s social connectedness is a powerful tool—and it can be both an asset and a liability. Each of our daughters were uniquely knit in their mother’s womb. Some are impulsive, and others are compulsive. Some lean toward sadness or anxiety. Preparing your daughter to know herself and providing her with the tools she will need is a critical part of raising a young woman into adulthood.
You have approximately ten years to speak into your daughter’s life as her primary influence.After that, life changes drastically. Our daughters are vulnerable and many of us are unwilling to engage in the hard conversations needed before they are twelve or fourteen. By the time they are in their pre-teen years, they are much more interested in what their peers and the media say than what you say.
It is never too late, but your tactics and approach MUST change after they reach the age of eleven, though this varies between children.
Over the years, what you have voiced as beautiful influences what she will see as beautiful. When you complain about your body, its shape, or that of your spouse, your daughter’s opinions are being formed.
This affects what they see as negative, unwanted, or unacceptable. The discussions you have driving around town influence them. Have you ever heard your child making a comment verbally that sounds offensive — even downright mean — yet you immediately realize that they are only repeating something they have heard you say? That’s painful. They are little sponges and mirrors. This is why the micro-conversations we have with them PRIOR to puberty matter more than almost any of the others we will have with them during their teenage years.
I tell my children, even before puberty, that they are their own person, make their own decisions, and, thus, are fully responsible for those decisions. This matters as we prepare them to bear the weight of more difficult decisions and their consequences.
If they forget to take something to school or camp, and you come bail them out, what are they learning? Are they learning responsibility, or that others will cover for them? Do we let small mistakes shape them, so they can avoid the larger ones down the road?
Prepare a list of the character qualities and skills you want to see in your sons and/or your daughters when they leave your home.
List ideas for how to prepare your child to meet these goals.
Have a conversation with your son or daughter about what qualities they (and you) believe are important in themselves, their friends, and the opposite sex. What boundaries in dating need to be established before their heart is involved?
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