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Thoughts About Raising Daughters

Daughters are amazing creatures. They play princess, they catch frogs, they like to snuggle. At least mine do.

But many of us have more problems raising daughters because there's confusion as to what, exactly, we're supposed to raise them to be.

I was watching a really cute movie last night called Definitely, Maybe. Don't watch it with kids, and be aware that there are questionable morals. But at one point one of the young women reports just feeling so lost. She can't figure out what job she wants, or what she wants to do with her life, and she's lonely. And as I'm watching this, I'm thinking, "the reason she's lost is because all these twenty-somethings are trying to find themselves and set up their own lives, and we weren't really supposed to do that. We were supposed to get married." It's an awful thing to think, in a way, because I do believe that people need to be secure in God and who they are in themselves before they marry. But I also think a lot of our angst is simply because we were not meant to be alone, struggling in isolation, the way we do today.

My hometown in Belleville, Ontario, has just lived through a horrible mess. We're right beside Trenton, the largest air base in Canada, and last week the head of that airbase, Russell Williams, was arrested for killing two women and sexually assaulting two others in their homes. Jessica Lloyd, who went missing on January 28, lived two doors down to my former sister-in-law. Everybody in some way or another was hit by this case. And it makes it so much worse that the killer apparently is such a high military commander.

But these women who were killed lived alone. I just don't think women were really meant to be unprotected like that. Now I lived alone before I was married, but I think it's just safer with roommates or with your parents. I do want my girls to experience independence, but you have to be careful. (I'm not trying to blame these women, by the way. What was done to them was NOT THEIR FAULT. And as I said, I did live alone. But you are more likely to be the victim of a crime if you live alone, and it just makes me uneasy thinking of my daughters like that).

It is certainly my dream to see both of my daughters happily married to Christian men. I pray for those men, I talk to my daughters about how to choose a husband, and they're certainly thinking in that direction (though both don't see the point in dating until you're old enough to marry, thank goodness). But I don't think you can raise your daughters assuming that they will marry and that marriage will take care of all their problems--safety issues, income, loneliness, identity. First, there's no guarantee they will marry. This world has more Christian women than Christian men, and if you want your kids to marry Christians, then they could potentially have a problem.

There's also no guarantee that the man they marry will live healthy until he is 85. Many men go through periods of injury or illness and the wife has to support the family. Or perhaps he's in school for an extended period of time and she has to work. Finally, not to be overly negative, but not all marriages work. My mother thought she was marrying a Christian, and six years later he dumped the church and us for another woman. And let's not forget that God did say that it is better to be single than to be married. It's always possible that God may call your daughters to be single to be involved in some kind of missions work. And we do have to be prepared for that, and thus prepare them for that.

I've also known women who feel very called to a career outside the home (I feel called to a career, too, but I've been able to work at it at my home). Some have figured out creative arrangements with husbands, where each works part-time. Other women have taken the fifteen years out of the workforce when they were raising their children, but did return to work afterwards for several decades. Let's not forget that raising kids is only part of your adult life.

Besides, isn't education for its own sake a great good? I am a better homeschooling mom because of my education. I can talk to people from higher social circles because of my education and experience. I just find life interesting because I've had a chance to study so much of it. I don't believe in going into major debt for a university degree that may never get you a job, but educating yourself online, or taking college courses, or doing it more cheaply, still definitely has its benefits.

I know many women in my social circles, and on the internet, who don't think very much about their girls having careers, and want to raise them instead to be great moms. And chances are our daughters will marry, and perhaps they won't need to work outside the home. But why bet on "chances"? We need to raise them so that no matter what happens, they'll be able to cope well. Isn't that the job of a parent? That's why I firmly believe in schooling for my daughters. I have many friends who don't, because "their girls are going to get married anyway", but I don't think that's wise or practical. You don't know, and chances are they'll need her income, at least while starting out. Make sure your girls can earn an income.

When we're thinking about potential careers, and my daughters and I talk about this a lot, we always think about what sorts of things they like, what can earn a good income, but what can also give them flexibility and allow them to work from home so they can stay home with their kids. They're aiming for an education, but they don't want to end up stuck with a job that they can't do with kids, and thus throw away those years in university.

As parents, we have to steer our girls in the right direction. We have to raise our girls (and our boys) to be ready to marry, to have good relationships, to know how to care for a household and manage the finances. But we also have to prepare them for the fact that they may not marry right away. Let's aim to keep them safe, steer them in good career directions, but make sure they can earn some money. To assume that their lives are necessarily going to turn out the way we want them to isn't doing a full job as a parent. And it's really not fair to our girls.

UPDATE: Too funny! My blogging buddy Terry wrote about the exact same thing on the exact same day! Read her post here.

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At 10:23 AM , Blogger Shana said…

This is a wonderful post. Most people don't think this way anymroe and i think this is why so many morals are gone now. Women trying to be like men. We are meant to be at home with a husband and children but i do totally understand some aren't meant for that or have missions work in mind. great job.


At 11:41 AM , Blogger Bethany from Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom said…

Amen and amen! Preach it sistah! I have been talking about college & careers since my girls were little. Nothing in life is sure and I firmly believe that it's best to be prepared for everything. Besides, you'll have a hard time homeschooling your 11th grader in Algebra 2 if you never took it yourself (oh wait, that's me, even though I have 2 college degrees!).


At 12:23 PM , Anonymous Kiesha @ Highly Favored said…

It's probably a geographical, cultural and age difference that colors my perspective, I don't understand why any parents would even consider simply preparing a daughter for marriage rather than a college education. There are just too many variables - and solely banking on being supported by a husband is just too risky. Of course, I want my daughter to get married, when the time is right - after college and good career choices have been made by both her and her husband. I realize that's the ideal and not always the reality.


At 1:02 PM , Blogger Terry @ Breathing Grace said…

It IS interesting that we both posted on the same topic on the same day! Maybe it's true what they say: Great minds think alike.

It also appears that our thoughts are very similar as well. I concur with Keisha. There are far too many variables to consider to prepare daughters to be homemakers and nothing else.

One commenter also pointed out the Scripture in 1 Corinthinas 7 where the Apostle Paul extols the virtues of singleness.

We have some family friends where the husband is disabled and the wife is the breadwinner. These are more than just intellectual musings for many people. Those of us who are conservative Christians need to be more understanding with the real hardships that real people face.


At 3:34 PM , Blogger Tessa said…

I just heard a really great sermon on the role of a woman in the church (specifically about the passage when Paul states they should not be Elders in the church) and it got me to thinking (even more than i already did) about the unique role of women and the way that God designed us. I am a very "liberal" woman. I had a career and did not plan to stay at home all the time with our son. But then he was born and God imprinted in my heart the fact that my place is to be the number 1influence in his life right now. But I think that it takes a lot of courage to go against popular belief and do what's right for your family, whether it be stay at home full time or work full time or anything inbetween. I am definatly going to teach any daughters that I have to be true to who God called them to be, and that will likely include marrying young.


At 6:22 AM , Anonymous myfathersdaughter said…

I married at 19. At that time I was going to school to be a wait, a wait, a teacher...who the heck knows at 19 what they want to DO for the rest of their lives!( o.k. maybe some people but I was torn :) By 21 I had dropped out of college and had my first child, and then along came blessing #2 at 24. I then spent the majority of their younger lives going to school "online" to finish my degree. It worked out because the Lord called me to home school our children in their younger season and technology provided a way for me to do both. I am a young mom and will only be in my early 40's when both of my children graduate. I am thankful that I took the time to finish my degree so that I would be able to DO something after my children have moved on with their own lives. They are my first and foremost ministry and focus (after the Lord and my husband of course.) I am now working as a teacher AND a counselor (go figure.) After homeschooling for many years the Lord provided a private Christian school where I could teach and they could attend and we could still all be together.:) I have seen many homeschooling mom's completely dedicate their lives to their children while homeschooling and then be completely lost when their children graduate leaving them with a lot of extra time and really no ways to fill it. I think that the world that we live in is becoming financially more strained and as we move forward I am thankful to have the opportunity to help contribute financially to our family. My husband is a police officer and for years we made due with his salary- as the children grow older as well as the expenses, I am thankful to be able to take some of the burden off of my husband. I enjoy working and am no way trying to be a man- as a daughter of God I am blessed to be able to use the giftings that He has placed on the inside of me to minister to others in the Christian and secular realms. This is such a "hot button" topic among home schoolers- so many different pools of thought and strong opinions and feelings- I have homeschooling friends who also aren't even exposing their girls to higher level math because they are "planning to get married anyways." I believe that we all love our children and try to make the best decisions that we know how for them- I try not to judge whether I agree with them or not. For my "little" girl who is now 11 and bigger than me I am, I will encourage her to obtain at least her Bachelor's Degree- She LOVES horses and all things four-legged and as I pray for her I'm almost certain that her God given bending will lead her to some sort of career in that field. I believe that the Lord will lead her as she seeks Him regarding the right choices for her family- just as He has been faithful to do so with me. She too has it "all figured out"- she will board horses and then as she home schools her children they will help her care for the horses... :) She probably sounds like I do to God when I think I have it all figured out and attempt to tell Him what my life plans are....


At 12:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Hi Sheila,

I have not commented here before, but I asked Terry a question about the wisdom of a college education in light of the poor financial choices most people are willing to make in order to get one last week, and truly appreciated her post in response. I also thought it was pretty cool that you wrote the same thing from a slightly different perspective! You and Terry both have several great ideas for managing the financial and spiritual challenges of a child in college, that I think apply to boys and girls alike. I do I also appreciate how both your post and hers focus on obeying God in your parenting choices, rather following a popular fad, whether it be secular or "christian."

Thanks for your thoughts, and yes, my 3 girls are amazing creatures as well!


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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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