thatmom

real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

raising homeschooled daughters, part four

my grandma circa 1910

The other day, one of my friends told me about running in his first marathon. He had trained for this event and hoped to at least finish the race. He said that he had run about 12 miles when he just knew he was never going to be able to go on, that each step required incredible exertion as he struggled to just put one foot in front of the other one.

At that point, he looked up and happened to see a tall man standing on the side of the road and as he got closer he could hear him screaming “You are awesome! What a tremendous job you are doing! Look how strong you are! You are almost finished!” My friend said that as he passed this stranger and heard him holler the same words of encouragement to him, he got a rush of adrenalin that propelled him forward, enabling him to finish the race.

I was thinking of that story as I considered the type of encouragement that young girls need to grow into strong, healthy, and vibrant women who reflect the glory of God in their lives. They need encouragers that assure them that the race isn’t so long that they won’t make it. They need voices that tell them that they are strong and that they are moving along at the right pace. They need to hear that they will finish and that there is no competition, that they only need to be concerned about being where the Lord would have them be. In essence, they need role-models and mentors.

As I was growing up, I had mixed signals hitting my adolescent antenna that caused me to be conflicted about many things. I wanted to be able to sing like Aretha Franklin, have hair like Ali McGraw, which for me meant sleeping with my hair wrapped around orange juice cans to make it straight, and to dress like Peggy Lipton’s Mod Squad character. I wanted a boyfriend like Redford’s Butch Cassidy but a husband one day like Sheriff Andy Taylor, always kind, exceedingly wise, and a patient listener with children. And woven throughout all these images was the very strong influence of my grandmother who was to me, and still is, the picture of godly womanhood. I understand how confusing this age of life can be and the confusion only grows with the number of voices who tell you what to do.

Our secular culture provides a cornucopia of mixed messages for young women when it comes to positive role models. Top choices right now, according to the media elite, include Oprah Winfrey, Clare Danes, and Rachel McAdams, all women who, though they may be philanthropic, have led immoral lifestyles. We are told that they are better examples than Brittney Spears or Paris Hilton, the self-professed role models for young girls, but in reality are they? All present a godless worldview that produces the same kind of fruit….girls who believe they can never measure up, girls who long for happy ever after, girls who think that happy means being famous, beautiful, rich, or powerful. And current statistics show that by the time a little girl enters kindergarten, she will have seen 5,000 television shows and 80,000 ads, all telling her the same thing.

Just as troubling, on the other end of the spectrum, self-professed movement homeschoolers have their own teen celebrities who, while presenting themselves as better examples of godly womanhood, in reality, are teaching many of the same lessons to our daughters. As offensive as this might seem, let’s compare those messages:

1. The secular world has chosen young single women to teach our daughters what is important and to set the standards for femininity and beauty through certain clothing and hair styles, interests, and life choices. They have become the spokeswomen for an entire generation of daughters who want what they have.

Movement homeschoolers have established their own icons who are also beautiful young single women who have a certain look and who live lifestyles that cannot be attained by ordinary young women, lifestyles that require money and connections that most girls cannot have. This often leads to lack of contentment and frustration.

In contrast, the Bible clearly says that “the older women are to teach the younger women” (Titus 2) and to “keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

2. Contemporary secular role models wear clothing designed to sexually attract men. Young men in our culture are trained to think of a certain body type or hair style or look as “sexy” and therefore appealing and current styles are always pushing the envelope, encouraging girls to become more brazen in their attire. Someone outside that air-brushed persona does not have the same sex appeal, she just isn’t “hott.” The physical is the most important.

At the other end of the spectrum we have an emphasis on feminine dress that covers women from head to toe, dressing in styles either from a by-gone era or in the lace and ruffles usually reserved for little girls. Clicking on “modest clothing” on certain blogs often takes you to Civil War reenactment or regency era costumes. They, too, have established a standard for women that has placed much emphasis on the physical and dressing is also done for men, whether to keep them from lusting or to fulfill a fantasy.

Homeschooling icons have been established that identify only certain personality types as being appealing to men and young men are taught that quiet and meek girls are the only godly standard, as, for example, Voddie Baucham’s teachings to sons. These views alienate girls who are vivacious and outgoing or natural leaders, causing them to pursue becoming something that they are not and even denying certain gifts that God has given to them.

In both circles, appealing to a man’s standard of womanhood is central. Scripture, on the other hand, tells us that women are to concentrate on their inner beauty rather than on their outward adornment. Women are also to be meek and quiet in spirit, coming to an acceptance of the unique personality and gifts that God has given to them and not fighting against God’s perfect creation of them. (1 Peter 3) (Listen here for a more detailed discussion of this topic.)

3. The role models in our secular culture love the media attention and are quick to flaunt their personal stories that nearly always involve love and romance. Celebrity couples like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are featured every week in nearly one magazine or another. Young girls are trained at an early age to admire these famous people and magazines and television shows for young teens offer intimate details of even very young stars. The message is sent that life could not ever be worthwhile without a love interest and life-long commitment is rarely if ever mentioned outside of the obituaries of elderly movie stars.

In movement homeschooling circles, young girls are given the Elsie Dinsmore books and encouraged to think of themselves as junior helpmeets to their fathers, giving their dads their hearts, and attending purity balls with their fathers. As they grow older, they imitate Jane Austin characters, imagining themselves being prejudiced or prideful, whichever seems appropriate at the time in their quest for the perfect Mr. Darcy. And while Austen books are ok, the constant quest for marriage and the manipulation used to do it not causing any consternation, Janette Oake books are off limits because those heroines are strong and independent. In these groups, parents hand their daughters a Botkin book or take them to an online courtship website where they learn that in order to be normative they must marry. They go through their own courtship process and then tell their own stories to inspire even younger girls, a perfect cycle of multi-generational voyeurism and exhibitionism. The gift of marriage is made an idol, not unlike the secular counterpart’s idolatry of moonlight and roses.

Again the admonition of Scripture is quite different from either of these extremes. While marriage and family is revered, it is never central to the Gospel message. Jesus warned us in Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father” and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Of course we know Jesus wasn’t telling us to hate our families, but rather to put Him and His will for our lives ahead of our own selfish desires, including those for relationships.

And the women in the Bible are never commended for their homemaking or raising babies. Once when Jesus was preaching, a woman called out to him and said “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” But Jesus replied “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11) Jesus also failed to praise Martha for her homemaking skills, instead admonishing her that Mary had chosen the better way to spend her time, sitting at Jesus’ feet and learning His ways. (Luke 10)

I would like to suggest that mentors and role models for our homeschooled daughters be women who have given their lives in service to the Lord in a variety of ways, whether it is in their homes as wives and moms, as single or married women on the mission field, or wherever the Lord has called them. Our daughters ought to read the stories of both single and married women and also the biographies of great men of the faith. They need to meet, in real life, godly older men and women who have been blessed by their willingness to put Jesus Christ first.

I also think that good role models for our daughters should be older women who share some of the same gifts, abilities, and life situations that our daughters have. I think of Mary going to see Elizabeth during their times of confinement. What a blessing that Elizabeth must have been to this young frightened girl and what an encouragement they must have been to each other.

We also must inspire our daughters, both in word and deed, that as they admire and even emulate these servants, they must put their faith in Jesus and in Him alone, not in a paradigm, a program, a lifestyle, or another person. I often think of that dear woman we read about in Luke 8 who had suffered for 12 years with a discharge of blood. She was considered unclean in that culture and was destitute because she had spent all the money she had seeking help from various physicians. The Bible tells us that she could not be healed by any of these people but she had faith that Jesus could heal her. So she slipped through the crowd, touching only the hem of his garment and the bleeding stopped immediately. Jesus felt His power go out from him and asked who had done it. No one would own up to it so the woman, now humbled, desperate, and frightened, kneeled before him and declared in His presence that it was Jesus who had healed her. Jesus looked at this woman, and I imagine it was with such a face of compassion, and said “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” She was now His own daughter. She had been given the gift of faith in Christ alone and could now live in peace.

Only when our own precious daughters can place their faith in Christ alone, becoming His daughters, and will follow His ways rather than the way of man will they be able to live in peace as they become women made for His glory alone.

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5 Comments»

  Cindy K wrote @

Karen,

I’ve just spent a great deal of time again ruminating on the concept of covering up the works of the flesh with a thin veneer of what passes for the fruit of the Spirit (prompted by the discussion on True Womanhood, thread 8 of the prairie muffin discussion, circa comment 600 is about where it all starts). I had the same questions put to me a year ago by the same person and by others on a different internet site and I do not take the matter or discussion lightly. The word “repress” the works of the flesh was used which I find to be anything but Biblical. Yet how many of us are taught to be about making the outside look right while the inside may be corrupt and rotten to the core?

After re-reading and preparing posts for the http://www.botkinsyndrome.blogspot.com website which touches on some of these aspects of things you discuss here, I am reminded again how many of us do not come from the most ideal homes. I fear that in the comparison driven culture that has pervaded the Christian culture as deeply as it has secular culture, we have not done the inner work that brings about the outward beauty that remains when youth and beauty eventually fade. We are encouraged strongly to put on the best of appearances and to cater to what appeals to others, whether that is to grow a church, keep a denomination from becoming a thing of the past or catch a husband. We are to put on the behaviors and works to mimic the fruit of the Spirit. But as I’ve tasted the bitter fruit in some of these churches (that which looks pleasing to the eye but is bitter to taste and is sour in one’s stomach), the appearance is all that counts. Kind of like buying good tasting locally grown organic produce versus the big chain grocery fare. It tastes far superior and the nutrients in the organic local stuff leaves the mass produced garbage in the dust. The same with oranges that are sprayed with ethylene gas to make them look more ripe, but they have been mass processed and not allowed to ripen.

I wonder two things about the push towards perceived perfection:

First, why is there such an outward-oriented focus of the appearance of perfection? Second, what really hides underneath the veneer?

  katiekind wrote @

Great post, Karen.

Some years ago, after a difficult experience listening to a guest speaker at our church one Sunday morning who was advocating for the “full quiver” lifestyle, I was ruminating on why I was so bothered. He was very condemning of other views, making them out to be less biblical. I was deeply disturbed that our body of believers was subjected to that condemning attitude. Going to the New Testament, what we find is a very urgent emphasis on community, Jesus, and mission. The heartbeat of Christianity as reckoned by the New Testament at least, doesn’t seem to be centered on elevating home and hearth. And I say that as a mother who deeply believes in the vocation of motherhood and is a homebody of the first magnitude.

As always, thanks for sharing your thoughtful ideas.

  thatmom wrote @

Katiekind,

I know exactly what you are saying. I was born to be a mom! I love everything about it and highly recommend it. But I also recognize that God’s callings for His children are very diverse.

After being so heavily influenced by the patriocentrists, it was so eye-opening for me to read through the Gospels and to really look at all the characters and their relationship to Jesus. It sure put things into perspective for me. I began to see very clearly the idolatry of the family (or anything) that places itself above Jesus and Him crucified.

Thanks for your most welcome comments.

  thatmom wrote @

Cindy, you do ask the right questions….why is earthly perfection portrayed as the fruit of following the patriocentric path? Following Jesus guarantees that there will be difficult times and that they are meant for our own good and God’s glory.

  joannabug wrote @

Thank you for this, the whole series, but this one was especially beautiful!

Sometimes having a daughter (even though she’s only 7 months old!) terrifies me, much more than having a son, though I know there are many challenges for boys these days, too. It just seems like with so many pressures on every side to conform, it’s hard for a girl to come into adulthood without significant scars.

Thanks for your wisdom in this post!


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