Throughout the pages of the Bible, God has recorded vignettes of strong women who were dedicated to His service; Sarah, Miriam, Ruth, Mary, and Priscilla are only a few examples of saints devoted to faithfully obeying the Lord. Strong women are built on solid foundations and these solid foundations are often begun by faithful parents who desire their daughters to grow into women of godly strength, dignity, and spiritual beauty. Parents of daughters are blessed, but also challenged in helping their “little girls” to grow in godly maturity.
The twenty-first century has posed challenges for parents that few could have predicted even two decades ago. The blurring of gender lines has left a plethora of young people pondering what it really means to be man or woman. Due to both real and perceived historical unfairness, women are encouraged to “stand their ground” and fight against attempts to be ignored or abused. With almost militant tones, some have sounded the alarm against “male tyranny,” publicly shaming both men and women who do not support their efforts. Into this foray of needed reform—and, in some cases, needless noise—Christian parents are challenged to raise daughters in the training and admonition of the Lord.
For parents of both girls and boys, some things are fundamental and certainly not gender specific; teaching children to love God, obey His commands, and respect others are qualities on which faithfulness is constructed. Strength of character is another that knows no gender boundaries. Sadly, God’s teaching on His expectations for women has been greatly misconstrued, leading some to believe that He desires His female creation to have the spirit of “shrinking violets.” Such a fallacious conclusion would hardly stand the test when discussing the great judge Deborah or the strong Jael, whose fearlessness, strength, and tenacity saved the day when the men of Israel wilted in spiritual lethargy. Parents of daughters should instill within these young souls an understanding of what can be accomplished when one stands with God, regardless of one’s gender.
Parents should also make sure that daughters do not view their male counterparts as the “competition.” When God created Eve, it was not for the purpose of providing a rival; it was so that Adam could find completion since “there was not found a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:20b). Godly qualities are bequeathed to both men and women so that, working together, godliness is produced. Teaching a young lady that she finds validation only when she outperforms a male counterpart is dangerous business. Researchers who have studied the risky behavior of young men in their older adolescent and early adulthood years have reached interesting conclusions on young women of similar age. They find that while young men engage in such things as binge drinking, sexual relations, and bullying others to find their place in the “boy’s club,” young women who engage in the same behaviors do so to prove themselves to young men. While there is certainly nothing wrong with young women demonstrating greater proficiency in academics, athletics, or work skills than young men, there is indeed something wrong when young women feel they must prove themselves through sinful actions. Parents, therefore, have the important task of teaching their daughters the godly view of the opposite sex and how men and women are to work together for godly pursuits.
While there are certain teachings that are not gender specific, there are a host of others where God instructs different actions depending on whether one is male or female. One specific area where this is seen is within the home, a place where the strength of both the man and woman is on full display. As Paul wrote that young widows should remarry, he described their work in this way: “So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander” (I Timothy 5: 14 ESV). The original word for “manage” in the above verse is the same from which the English word despot is derived; thus, God has given women the responsibility of keeping “the trains running on schedule” within the home. As any woman who has served in this capacity can attest, it is not a job for the weak of heart! Parents serve their daughters well when they teach the necessary skills to help them fulfill this God-given role. As both wife and mother, a godly woman is the glue that holds the household together.
Parents should also take every occasion possible to help their daughters learn how to serve their spiritual family. While it is the case that God has chosen men to serve in more public capacities, this should never be construed as leaving women in a secondary role. God has given much work for women to accomplish and parents do well to help their daughters realize this. A good foundation of biblical knowledge in youth helps to create the next generation of teachers for children’s Bible classes. The time spent instructing daughters in their biblical studies helps to prepare the next generation of women who will exercise enormous influence on children in local churches. The ability to see to both the physical and spiritual needs of those in the congregation is also an important quality for a Christian woman. To learn this skill, daughters should accompany their parents as they aid Christians in need. This example will help girls grow into women who put others before self. Though perhaps difficult for many parents, they should also work to instill a sense of “spiritual adventure” within their daughters since there is much work to do in the Lord’s Kingdom throughout the world. For example, women who will take on the responsibility of helping to instruct women and children in foreign lands involve themselves in work of eternal proportion. Such a spirit begins early as parents teach their daughters to think outside the box but not outside the Bible. These actions, along with many others, show the essential place God intends for women to hold within His plan.
Daughters can provide much love, emotion, tenderness, and testing to their parents. With much patience and prayer, parents should thank God for their great blessings and seek to train these young ladies in the ways of God. Heaven only knows the great impact they will have on the world!