How many times have you heard the saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?” As a parent, this statement can be good or bad. It certainly is a reminder of the importance of parenting. If you are raising girls, special, parenting skills are needed. You must be firm and compassionate, knowing when to come down hard so to speak and when to back off when you see the tears rolling. How many times did my husband say “What did I say?’ when our daughters were brought to tears after a discussion. I am not sure that he ever figured it out.
As parents, if it is true that apples don’t fall far from the tree, then in order to address issues with our children, we must look in the mirror. I must be the person that I wish them to be. How do I raise my daughters to be godly women? I do that by being a godly women. Remember that this doesn’t mean that I get it right or that I am always the best example for them. This also doesn’t mean that if they choose to rebel or walk away from God altogether, I caused that. “Train up a child in the way he (or she) should go” means many things, but it definitely means that I must do my best. I must pray and trust God’s will for him or her.
What should I be doing? Let this list serve as a sort of checklist.
- You are in church, every week or close and actively involved. (this was my first questions for my girls when they began dating someone more seriously)
- You are reading and studying God’s Word.
- You are involved in ministry
- You are praying
- You discuss these things with your children of any age, teaching them the importance of these and why you do these things
We didn’t always get it right. I can tell you that both of our daughters are married to fine Christian men and are actively involved in ministry. Praise God. My husband and I take no credit for that. God has been more than gracious. Only He can direct our kids’ paths. Only God can do what only He can do. We should never take credit for the good things that our kids do. We would also have to take credit for the bad. We are in control of neither.
Things that I think we did right:
- involved our girls in ministry at an early age, showing them how to do it (VBS, keep nursery, my speaking for a women’s events)
- I tried to make it fun: no whining allowed, laughter encouraged
- showed them how to do ministry alongside me
- spent hours hanging out-movie night, baking cookies (and showing them how) We still love to do this
- taught them, encouraged them and at times lead them in bible study. As a teacher, in the summer months, we would try to read a girls’ devotional or bible study together. Believe me, this didn’t always happen.
- let them see my struggles and heartaches. My husband is a pastor. He has been on staff at churches of over 2000 and of currently 80 regular attendees. They girls have always been on this journey with us. We have tried to show them how to trust God, pray and listen to the Holy Spirit.
One of my highest compliments has been that my daughters saw me sitting in a chair, each school morning, bible in lap, reading. Now, believe me, sometimes I read two lines and was about asleep, but they remember coming downstairs to this. Praise God. Apple=tree.
How do we teach them what to look for in a man? Show them a healthy relationship with men. Show them the rewards of good men vs how life can be miserable with the wrong man. Unfortunately, I have friends of all backgrounds as it should be, but living examples for my daughters were everywhere.
Talk about this with them. Talk about the value of waiting for God’s man. Pray. I prayed for my daughters, my nieces and my nephew from before they came into this world. I prayed for the one that each would marry. As my girls became middle schoolers, I prayed that their men would be strong in middle school-no compromise of their faith. I prayed that as they were growing that they were involved in church somewhere with Godly influences. This brings me to tears still when I look at my son-in-laws. Pray.
When the boys start noticing your girls, pray. Talk with them about the good and the bad. They will not always choose the best guys, but allow grace and mercy. No nagging. Pray more. Pray him away. Many times, I was talking to my girls about relationships and praying the boy away. I didn’t share that with them, but now, as adults, they know. They have told me that they were grateful. They would not have been grateful at the time. No one wants to hear that they are wrong.
As we study God’s Word with them and at church together, we need to talk with them about the role of the man and woman. My husband made this easy. He talked about it all. If you aren’t married, this will fall on you. Be honest if you made marriage mistakes. Treat your ex husband with respect even though this is difficult. My best friend has handled this so well, not criticizing her ex husband when it would have been easy to do so. Have good men role models in your children’s lives so that they can see the good in action.
None of these things guarantee that our daughters will make the right choices or that they will never get in wrong relationships, but we have to do everything we can. We must remember that our walk with God is crucial to influencing our children’s lives.