(See also 12 Tips for Raising Masculine Sons)
Secular feminism is an ideology of false promises that leaves broken women in its wake. Nevertheless, it continues to pervade our culture, and many around us has adopted a view of “the successful woman” that twists God’s design for true womanhood.
Our young girls are being taught that true womanhood means doing everything a man can do. If you are dependent on a man in any way, you are not considered a “strong woman.” This ideology says that real womanly satisfaction comes in being a career woman, a woman with a cause. It especially wars against women being trapped in the bondage of that antiquated institution called the family. Way back in 1963, Betty Friedan called being a housewife the equivalent of a “comfortable concentration camp”, and since then truly progressive women are said to be those of independence. They do not live to serve others and they do not depend on others – their strength is their independence. In the media our girls are taught that happy women can sleep in the beds of many different men, bouncing from relationship to relationship. Strong women in media tend to be portrayed as snarky women, sarcastic women, thick-skinned and often crude. In recent days, even the very concept of gender is being re-imagined, so that women can no longer firmly identify as “women”, but must find themselves on the so-called gender spectrum.
The result of all this is that there are women all around us in our community who are hurting and weary, having been tossed to and fro by these confused ideas of womanliness. In the midst of their pain and in the midst of all the fog of our culture’s distorted messages, the healing light of the Bible’s teaching needs to shine through. Like feminism, the Bible also calls for women to be tough – they need to have backbones of steel! But being strong isn’t about independence. In the Bible, the successful woman is the one who finds her joy in being a nurturer, an encourager, a caretaker. She does not try and do all that a man does, but instead embraces that there are certain aspects of life that she is far better suited for than men. She embraces her femininity in its truest sense.
Absolutely, men and women are equal in value, for all of us are created in the image of God and bear His likeness. But there is a reason God created two sexes. Men and women are to be different, with different pursuits and qualities, and the blurring of these lines has led to much anguish in our day.
The biblical woman is a gentle woman, a woman of tender-conscience, a woman of kindness. Her desire is not to live for herself, but rather to imitate her Savior in serving others. Wives are called to be helpmates to their husbands, not just partners who happen to live in the same house. The marriage is called to be the deepest kind of partnership, a uniting of souls, as husband and wife live together in mutual God-centered happiness. The husband leads, provides for, and protects his wife, loving her as Christ loves the church. He cherishes his wife. And the wife seeks to join the husband in the mission Christ has placed on his life, seeking to help him and sustain him on that mission. It is a vision of womanhood that is so counter-cultural and revolutionary in our day. And yet when God’s design is followed, it can provide a kind of satisfaction and fulfillment that most women today are seeking. Certainly for Christian women, this biblical vision of womanhood is the path of obedience, and ultimately, in this life or the next, the path that leads to greatest blessing.
How can we raise daughters who are feminine in the biblical sense? Here are 11 Tips, 8 directed towards mom, and 3 towards dad.
For Mothers of Daughters
1. Be a model of the kind of woman you would like your daughter to become. Recognize that the way you interact with your husband (her dad) sets an example of how she should one day interact with her own husband. Recognize that the way you care for your children sets an example of how she should one day care for hers.
2. Speak respectfully and positively of your husband (her dad) so that she will learn the virtue of respect. Set the example of following his leadership and submitting to his authority.
3. Help your daughter see that your ultimate joy and hope is in Christ, not your husband. Talk often with your daughter about the things of God and set for her an example of an active prayer life.
4. Seek to nurture in your daughter a love for the home. Encourage her to join you in making the home a warm and well-ordered environment. Help her to learn the art of hospitality.
5. Help your daughter celebrate her femininity in various ways. Go shopping with her and help her learn to dress nicely (and modestly). When she’s younger, don’t discourage her from playing house or having tea parties.
6. Be available to your daughter to talk about the issues of her life, especially those issues that are unique to women.
7. Encourage the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom in your daughter’s life by doing the same in your own.
8. Be surrendered to the will of God, and encourage your daughter to be the same. Whether God gives her the gift of a husband or the gift of singleness (and singleness is a gift, cf. 1st Cor. 7), help her learn to embrace God’s calling for her life by you embracing God’s calling for yours.
For Fathers of Daughters
1. Recognize that daughters often marry men who are similar to their fathers. Therefore, be an example of the kind of godly masculinity your daughter should look for in a husband. Be the kind of husband and father you would like her to one day marry. Be the spiritual leader of your home and teach her to expect spiritual maturity of any man who would take her hand in marriage.
2. Be available to offer leadership and guidance to your daughter as she grows. Take her on father – daughter dates and show interest in what is happening in her life. Seek to give wise, biblical counsel so that she will learn to trust you and feel good about coming to you for advice. Once she is married, she should expect the same from her husband.
3. Celebrate your daughter’s steps into womanhood. As she grows older, affirm the woman she is becoming and show her healthy attention. (Often adolescent girls are willing to receive inappropriate attention from males because they are not receiving healthy attention at home.) When you pray together, often take time to thank God for the woman she is becoming.