Teaching Our Girls How to Behave Around Boys
A few weeks ago I shared some heartfelt pleas to boy mommas about ways you can help me raise my girls right. I believe we’re all in this together—whether parenting boys or girls, we’re on the same team, and we share the same calling to usher up the next generation of Christians, teaching them to be faith-filled ambassadors, family advocates, and loving human beings. So from my perspective as the mom of two daughters, what you boy moms do matters tremendously. Your sons are our future heads of households. They will one day marry my girls and guide them for more years than I. From my heart, I’m begging you to prepare them to do that well.
However, I also take full responsibility for my position as a girl momma. Raising daughters carries a host of challenges that can impact young men, their masculinity, their purity, and their view of themselves. So for my part, I want to set the record straight that girls can be just as lovely and unlovely as boys. And we girl moms must teach our daughters how to behave around boys in a God-honoring way—which, not surprisingly, may fly in the face of the world’s current philosophies.
Here are some important factors to consider when raising girls to be godly women.
1. Boys deserve respect—because they belong to God. Kindness and dignity are due every person in the classroom, soccer team or youth group, regardless of gender. Let’s teach our girls not to belittle boys, not to gossip about them or squeal about their “cooties.” My guideline is, if you shouldn’t say it about a girl, then don’t say it about a boy, either. Instead, let’s encourage our girls to build others up, male and female alike.
2. Boys are not the enemy. Competition in one sense is healthy. There’s no reason girls and boys shouldn’t go head to head in science fairs or hockey teams or band auditions. By all means, let’s raise our daughters to employ their intelligence and abilities to become productive, successful members of society. But we must not cross the line to viewing boys as the enemy. All these “girl power” T-shirts and “girls rule, boys drool” posters just pit the genders against one another, when God’s design from the start has always been for us to work together, to complement one another. We are equal but different.
3. Let’s all protect everybody’s purity. Boys are often blamed for pressuring girls into physical relationships, but the sad truth is girls can be aggressive, too. In today’s world it’s not uncommon for girls to pursue boys, and the messages our girls hear is that this isn’t just okay, it’s encouraged. Be a strong woman! Take control of the relationship! Consider, though, God’s idea of a strong woman. She is a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4), clothed with modesty (1 Timothy 2:9) and humility (1 Peter 5:5). She brings her man “good, not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:12). I want to teach my girls to respect and encourage a boy’s purity as much as I hope he will protect hers.
4. Boys and girls can be friends—nothing more. Remember the days when toddlers played together in the ball pit, paying no mind to who was a boy or a girl? At some point those lines blur and kids start to recognize the difference between male and female, until friendships reach a point where somebody needs to establish we’re “just friends” or else things get really weird. I’m teaching my daughters that there’s nothing wrong with hanging out with boys and girls in group settings without pairing off. The focus should be on getting to know people and being kind and encouraging to everyone, rather than on sizing up who is boyfriend material. Middle school and high school have enough pressures to contend with. If we’re going to add boyfriends to the mix, we’d better be darn sure our girls are ready to handle the emotional baggage that comes with it.
5. Finally, Mom should model it, not just preach it. I’ll be the first to say I fail at this some days. I snap at my husband, undermine his opinions, and occasionally even tell my kids that “Dad is crabby, so let’s leave him alone.” Yet I know the best way to teach our girls how to behave around boys is to demonstrate by example. So let’s be kind to our husbands. Consider his needs. Save arguments for the closet, not the dinner table. Let’s respect the men in our households, and then hopefully, with God’s grace, our daughters will learn from our actions, not just our words.
To all of you sweet mommas, whether you have sons or daughters or a household full of both, I pray you will seek God’s wisdom for parenting in today’s uncertain world. We won’t get everything right, and neither will our kids. But even as social norms shift and pressures build, one thing remains the same. God’s love never fails.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
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