3 Ways to Prepare Your Daughter to Live a Rich and Beautiful Life

3 Ways to Prepare Your Daughter to Live a Rich and Beautiful Life

Oh, you must be soooo busy! 

That’s what people often say – with a slight groan – when they learn that I’m the mother of four amazingly active boys.

And it’s true. I am busy. Terribly busy at times.

But you know something?

It’s no less demanding being a mother of four lively girls. In some ways even more challenging than a pack of wiggly, grubby boys.

Oh, they are lovable dears, to be sure. Darling, giggly, charming, determined,  and, well, more complex.

Boys might bounce off the walls, bring home bugs and snakes, but girls . . .

Girls can be complicated.

But now my little girls aren’t so little anymore. Even though we still play and  laugh together, they are well on their way to womanhood and it’s a joy to watch.

So I’ve been thinking about what we’ve learned together over these years.

I’ve been considering what’s equipping them for their future.

And what’s helping prepare our daughters for the rich and beautiful  life God has for them.

Strength

One of our daughters was a screamer.

Whenever she got hurt – she screamed. When she was afraid, she screamed. When she was upset, excited, mad – you guessed it, she screamed. We honestly wondered if we’d find her screaming on her wedding day.

She’s also our intuitive and insightful one and we love that about her. But the girl needed to get a grip in order for anyone to be able to hear all that loveliness down inside her. Not that we wanted to make her tough; we just wanted to make her strong.

Now she often laughs where she used to scream – a much better approach to life, don’t you think? She also boldly shares her love for Christ wherever she goes.

It takes a lot of strength to be a woman.

Serving

If you’re raising a daughter to assume a princess-like attitude (“Like . . . it all revolves around me”), how is this possibly preparing her to be a wife and mother?

Not very helpful, I’m afraid.

I might be queen of my home, but this particular Queen finds she has to scour bathtubs, wipe bottoms, sort massive mounds of laundry, and basically take care of a whole bunch of people.

If you’re grooming your daughter for royalty, she’s likely going to be in for a significant adjustment. With her future in mind, one of the mottos we’re working toward around here is “Service with a smile”.

Being a godly woman involves cheerfully serving others.

Sweetness

Maybe your daughters are naturally sweet, but the girls in our home – including me! –  have had to learn to be nice.

A sharp, biting response. A cat with claws out – who wants to come home to that?

So we’re working on sweetening up and finding it takes practice – and lots of it. When something harsh or snitty slips out, we get to go back and try it again. Often the content isn’t even the problem, it’s the tone we need to change.

A pretty woman turns ugly real fast when she snaps and snarls.

And sweetness makes a woman beautiful.

Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come. ~ Prov. 31:25

So yes, we’re still laughing and having a lot of fun together. With these lively, complicated girls of mine.

And we’re looking forward to the rich life God has in store for them.

Starting right here and right now.

Just beautiful. 

Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women

Navigating the Rough Waters of Girlhood Friendship: Suggestions for Smooth Sailing

 navigating the rough waters of girlhood friendship

Navigating adult friendship is hard, but steering one’s way through the tumultuous times of girlhood friendship?  It can be harrowing!  Honestly, it’s a miracle that I’m still alive to tell about it!

It’s no secret that friendship – at any age – can be a spring of immense joy; but also, it can be a source of terrible pain.

And while, like us, our daughters must find their own way along the friendship journey, my prayer is that we will pass along every gem of wisdom we’ve gleaned as guidance to make the path a little less painful and a lot more joy-filled.

Here are a few of the discussions my daughter and I have shared over the last couple of years:

Feeling left out? Reach out.

First, it is normal to feel left out, so don’t think that you’re weird for feeling this way. Most of your friends have felt, are feeling, or will feel this way, too.

Second, making friends means putting yourself out there. Sometimes, you have to be the one to organize the sleepover or the trip to the park or the bike ride.

Your new friends will thank you for “breaking the ice” and reaching out; and if they don’t become new friends? That’s okay, too.  You are not going to connect with everyone.

Recognize {and replace} feelings of jealousy.

If you’re friends with more than one person (and hopefully you are), then there may be times when you’ll want to spend one-on-one time with a girlfriend.  Great!  In fact, that is awesome because you’ll probably get to know her on a deeper level by spending time alone.

However, keep in mind that your friends may do the same thing.  For example, two of your friends may get together without you

When this happens, you may feel a little jealous — even hurt — that you didn’t get invited.  Simply recognize the jealousy and choose to replace it with excitement for your friends.  Choose to be happy for them because they’re getting an opportunity to know each other better.  Choose to thank God for the friendship you have with each of them, and pray that He strengthens their bond, too.

Note that these won’t be easy choices, but they are choices you can and should make because good friends hope and pray only the best for one another.

Seek God in times of loneliness.

You may go through seasons of loneliness.  This is normal. For whatever reason (a move, a schedule change, a divorce, etc.) there may be a period of time when you are unable to connect with your friends.  Use the time to develop a deeper friendship with God, and talk to Him about your loneliness.

Avoid friendship labels.

Using terms such as “BFF” or “bestie” is trendy, but I contend that it can be inadvertently harmful to existing and/or potential friendships.  I suggest to my daughter that when referring to a friend she use phrases such as “close friend” or “one of my good friends.”

I’ve written about why I don’t think we should have “best” friends, and my daughter, age 12, recently expressed how this advice encouraged her to widen her circle of close friends as opposed to excluding everyone else and putting pressure on only one person to be her “best” friend.

Be friendly with everyone, but share your heart with few.

Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and love — even those people with whom we would never share our deepest secrets.

However, not everyone deserves to hear our most intimate thoughts.  We must be wise in choosing our closest friends, and not everyone can be trusted with our innermost feelings and ideas.

Don’t talk negatively about others.

Recently, my daughter received a text with the ever-ominous question: Do you like her? in reference to an acquaintance they both knew.  Even though the particular girl in question has posed a bit of a struggle for my daughter, she wisely responded: Yes, she is my friend.  This response shut the door to negative gossip that could have ensued.

We must encourage our daughters to avoid negative discussion about others, even if the discussion may seem warranted. And we should equip them with tools to end conversations that begin to go down a negative road.

These are just a few of the lessons I’ve passed along to my daughter.  What advice do you have to share with young girls today who are in the midst of navigating their way through girlhood friendship journeys?

Looking forward to hearing your counsel,

Rhonda

Kids and Technology (Finding the Balance)

Kids and Technology

Can I play Minecraft on the ipad?

Lydia wants to know if she can do Starfall on your computer?
Can we play Wii for 15 min.?
Can I text Anna back because she asked a question?
After dinner can we watch a show tonight?
David asked if I can follow him on Instagram?

My nightmare.
Well, one of them anyway.

There are times when I’d love to just get rid of it all.
There’s a reason I returned the iphone my husband bought me a couple of years ago.
I have a definite love-hate-relationship with technology and all things screen-ish.
And yes, I get the irony of sharing this in a post as I type away staring at a screen.
My tendency would be to bury my head in the sand and just wish it’d all go away.

But—there has to be a balance—right?
And that’s part of our job—
To help our children find the balance and to help them learn how to keep it,
To help them learn to use technology and all things media for the glory of God.

First We Must Look at Avoiding the Dangers and Negative Impacts of Technology:

1) Overuse:
There’s a definite tendency for overuse. And that’s a real possibility for all of us. Screen attachment can become a borderline addiction (or real for some) and we must set limits when it comes to using technology and screen time.  The balance will be different for every family and should be age appropriate.

Exceptions are made as needed, but in general, as a family, we have some guidelines that have eliminated the need for constant decision making about usage.  When it comes to television, we watch a weekly show together on Thursday nights and then after evening chores are complete, our crew is allowed to watch something for half an hour while we are waiting for dad to get home (for us that is 6 to 6:30). Unless it’s a special occasion– online games or Wii games are reserved for the weekends and this has eliminated the requests for permission that were driving me bonkers.  For now, we also have decided that devices will not travel with the kids to most social functions (church, Bible study, friends’ houses etc.).

I’m not at all suggesting this is what every family should do, but the point is to have an actual usage plan.

2) Safety:
Dangers lurk on every corner when it comes to technology and this is an important discussion to have with our children.  As parents we need to explain why it’s important to never share personal information or open emails/photos from strangers and why downloads need to have approval.

There is wisdom in keeping computers and devices centrally located and for putting safeguards in place to protect our children.  Pornography is just one unintentional click away.  We must make safety a priority.
This recent article has excellent suggestions specific to creating a porn-free family plan.

In our home, our kids’ profiles must be kept private and they are not allowed to accept friend requests from people they don’t know.  And until they are a bit older and wiser, we’ve asked them not to search and click on unknown sites without our permission.  A central family docking station, ensures that all devices are accounted for.  Open communication is huge when it comes to safety…our children need to feel comfortable coming to us if something negative happens online whether intentional or unintentional.

3) Costly Words:
Words have the ability to cause great damage and it’s so easy to quickly make a comment online without realizing the hurtful impact.  It is important to explain that a text, email, comment, or post is often irretrievable and that “when there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).  As a family, studying James is a great place to start when discussing how death and life are in the power of the tongue.

4) Missed Opportunities:
The choice to engage in screen time is also a choice to not do something else. Technology often replaces good conversation and face to face relationship building. It can isolate family members from one another and it can lead to a loss of other interests.  When we start noticing that our children are choosing screen time regularly over other activities, that’s usually when we implement a technology Sabbath.

5) Lack of Courtesy:
It’s also important to stress courtesy when it comes to all things screen.  And sometimes it’s as simple as the basics– when you are in the company of someone else, it’s unkind to be glued to your phone.  If there’s any opportunity for conversation, it’s rude to not make eye contact and engage.  These are words we must preach to ourselves as well.

docking station

Then We Must Encourage the Positive Aspects of Technology:

1) Building relationships and friendships:
Technology creates a wonderful opportunity for building connections and encouraging others.  If we can help our children view it in this light, technology can be a blessing in their lives and in the lives of others.  We want to help them consider:  Who can I encourage with my comments?  What friendships can I strengthen by online connections?  What family members or friends can I reach out to?

2) Developing Skills/Creativity:
Creativity is limitless when it comes to technology and it’s important to encourage our children to develop skills in this area.  Many excellent typing, programming, and coding programs are available.  Our boys enjoy stop motion and creating videos.  All of our children enjoy photography.  These are skills and interests that God can use in their lives and we want to encourage their curiosity and delight in these areas.

3) Sharing the Gospel:
Technology offers incredible opportunities for sharing about Jesus’ rescue mission to save us, bring us forgivingness and how He made a way for us to live in deep, real relationship with God.  We want our children to approach technology with a heart to “(make) the most of every opportunity” (Eph. 5:16).

4) Keeping us in the tension:
It might be easier to just do away with it all, but instead we have to listen for God’s whisper that we may be out-of-balance or over-balanced or missing– Balance.

It might be simpler if God just gave us Commandment #11– Do not use Facebook.
But instead, He gives us a relationship where we must come to Him regularly, willing to lay it all, all the techno-everything-options, at His disposalTechnology and all things “screen” create this opportunity for our children as well.

I am sure there are many other positives and negatives that I haven’t considered…
And I’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions below in the comments.

For now though, I’ll just admit that I did eventually get a smartphone.
Smile.
And truthfully, I use it, enjoy it, and find it very helpful.
But it’s a constant battle to keep the balance.

And it’s in that place of tension that I want our children to stay…
Where they are constantly asking–

How can I use this _________ (insert your device of choice) to bring glory to God?

Our God is a God who redeems.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” ~Psalm 24:1

With Love,
Kara @ The Chuppies

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

When Silence is Not Golden

Silence

I remember the first time I heard Mary’s story.
I had a knot in my stomach and angry, hot tears streamed down my face.
I couldn’t believe that someone could hurt a child like that.
And that others knew but did nothing to protect her.

I’d rather not talk about it–
sexual abuse.

I’d rather not know that according to CDC statistics:
–Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men report experiencing rape.
–A 2011 survey of high school students found that 11.8% of girls and 4.5% of boys reported being sexual abused.

Or that according to the National Center for Victims of Crimes:
–1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.
–Children are most vulnerable to sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13.

Sexual abuse is not something I have experienced first hand, but statistically many of you reading this have.
Many.
And many of you who have shared your story (or not) have been met with silence.
And silence has a way of speaking volumes.

As a former English teacher, I love words.
Words create and convey and communicate meaning beyond their literality.

For instance, when someone asks me where “Lydia’s real mom lives?”
The question has adoption-parent-child-relationship-implications, that communicate much more than just a simple question of location.
I am her real mom.

An empty, silent crib shouts painful echoes of heartache.
A frozen “I’m sorry” has the potential to thaw the marriage battle. Or not.

Word choice is important. But so are pauses. So is silence.

Because silence is not always golden.

“If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would’ve lived in the land of silence.” ~Psalm 94:17

And so we tell our children, over and over…
If you hear someone being hurtful to someone else, it is your responsibility to stick up for the wounded, to encourage, to come along side–

Because silence has the power to unintentionally condone cruelty.

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know…” ~William Wilberforce

I just recently finished reading Mary Demuth’s new book, Not Marked.
I read it because I care about Mary, because I want to understand as best I can how to support the friends I have who were sexually abused, and also because I want to prevent our children from experiencing that same kind of pain.

As a mama, I so appreciated Mary’s wisdom about ways to protect our children from sexual abuse because as she states, “every crime needs these two elements.  A perpetrator has to want to abuse, and there needs to be a victim in proximity” (Not Marked  pg. 223).

She goes on to share several suggestions that may help parents protect their children, “while still letting them be children” (pg. 226).

#1) Know Your Child–

“The best defense in protecting your kids is knowing them well.  Know their nuances; become a student of their behavior…If your child has a sudden shift in behavior, take it seriously” (pgs. 226-227).
Mary goes on to list many common symptoms of sexual abuse that a parent should take note of.

#2) Be Vigilant But Not Immobilized–

“Be cautious about adults seeking alone time with your child.  Watch your children and who they hang out with…Remember that abusers seldom look like criminals…(but) don’t become so immobilized that you never let your kids be kids.  You don’t want to raise fear-based kids (pgs. 227-228).

#3) Teach Your Kids About Sex–

” …you’ll need to talk about sex with your kids at an early age– in an age appropriate manner…The more comfortable you are talking about it, the more comfortable your kids will be in bringing you any concerns” (pgs. 228-229).

#4) Entrust Your Kids To Jesus–

“Although I have warned (my kids) about stranger danger and how to flee, and we’ve talked about inappropriate touch, I have also learned to entrust my kids to Jesus…We can lean toward controlling our kids, micromanaging their worlds.  While we should protect our kids, we’re also role models, demonstrating a life lived in adventure, not fear” (pgs. 229-230).

#5) Our Greatest Gift–

“The greatest gift we can give our kids is our relationship with Jesus, modeling to them what we do when we’re injured or hurt.  Our own willingness to run to Him with our pain will show our kids how to work through their own difficulties as they grow up.  Contagious family life is not about appearing perfect,…It’s about a bunch of messy people living together, broken, but running to Jesus to find help” (pg. 231).

As we read these words and consider this heartache…

Some of us are processing as parents wanting to protect children.
Or friends wanting to come alongside those we care about.
Or spouses who daily watch a loved one struggle through the aftermath of sexual abuse.
But many reading right now, have experienced these wounds personally.

If you are reading this today, a victim of sexual abuse, my heart breaks over your pain and heartache.
I am so sorry.

I’d like to share with you Mary’s Prayer for a Sexual Abuse Victim.
And if we can pray for you today, we’d like to do that.

We’d also like to share 3 copies of Not Marked with our readers.
We are praying this book can be a source of encouragement and hope.
In it, Mary doesn’t gloss over the pain and struggle, she doesn’t minimize the heartache, but she offers real suggestions (not platitudes) for healing and progress and she proclaims the freedom of living– not marked, but with true hope.

“For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” ~Eph. 2:10 NLT

With Love,
Kara @ The Chuppies

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