Valuing Girls by Rebecca VanDoodewaard
The following article is a guest post by Rebecca VanDoodewaard, author of Uprooted: A Guide for Homesick Christians, Your Future ‘Other Half’: It Matters Whom You Marry, and Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity's Rebirth.
As a grandmother, my mother is skillful in communicating to her granddaughters that their worth is not in their looks. She does this in a variety of ways, but there are some simple tactics you can use help the girls in your life be valued for something other than their bodies. Raising mentally and emotionally confident women is not a feminist agenda: it’s loving your neighbor and preparing them to live in a world that objectifies them. Whether or not you’re a (grand)parent, you can use these ideas at Christmas gatherings to communicate holistic love to cousins, nieces, etc., of any age.
1. Ask her what she’s doing. Are there sports or music activities that she does? Is she volunteering or involved in other service? How about learning to count, read, or speak a new language? Meeting interesting people, or transitioning to a new school? Planning a trip? Learning to ride a bike or run a business? Ask her if she’s made any neat food or helped with that home improvement project. Her usefulness as a person is not in her looks: it’s in how she develops and utilizes her gifts.
2. Ask her what she’s reading. It might be Goodnight Moon, it might be War and Peace, but whatever it is, it’s informing her thinking. Understanding that and helping to place a right value on it is essential.
3. Ask her what she’s thinking. What does she think of her kindergarten teacher? Her boyfriend’s family? Trump’s impeachment (or Johnson’s reelection)? What’s happening at church? Changes in the family over the year? Thinking informs affection and action. If thinking is solid and healthy, the rest will follow.
In a conversation, if my mother compliments a granddaughter’s clothing, it’s a side comment. Looks (clothes, hair, braces, glasses, weight) are not the main issue. Looks aren’t unimportant, and we need to address style, health, etc., but there is so much more to life and people. Biblical thinking, clear understanding, and deliberate actions are the stuff that matter, and will matter into eternity. Let’s help our girls value those things, and develop their personhood in ways that God values and loves.