What is the one thing a Christian parent can’t stand about the effect media and advertising is having on their young girls?
Christians make the claim that daughters are growing up too fast as a result of advertisers pushing young girls to display their sexuality either in talk, dress and or experiences. I agree.
Just take a look at some of the tween/teen magazines. You will get an eye full of the over sexualization of young girls. The subject matter in these magazines is not age appropriate and definitely stirs up emotions in young girls, challenging them to have experiences they are not yet mature enough to handle.
The clothing considered “in style” for young girls does not display modesty and the girls in the ads are getting younger and younger. It’s alarming.
As a Christian woman, a wife, and a mother, I too am very disturbed by the sexualization of young girls. But recently, I have come across another trend equally disturbing to me.
Christians producing pre-mature girls
As the media and advertisers push sexualization on our daughters, some Christians can make the same mistake by pushing pre-maturity just as hard on their daughters and doing it in the name of godliness. What am I referring to?
Simply this, too many young girls in the Christian world are also losing out on their childhood innocence as their parents push and prod them to mature faster than they are ready.
While this trend can be found in any Christian home, I am seeing a bigger push within the home school movement. Some home school movements over-emphasize pre-maturity, seemingly as an effort to prove their children are smarter or more mature than children who attend public or private schools.
The shift has taken a new turn as these home school parents push their children to mature before they are ready, especially with daughters. Within my own local home school group I have noticed young girls who are definitely in that awkward, in between stage of no longer being a child, but not yet a woman.
Some of the girls are still allowed to be young and mature at a slower rate while some of the girls are being pushed into womanhood before being ready.
As a former young girl myself, I understand the awkwardness all girls feel when they are maturing into a young woman, but notice I said young woman.
Somehow, we have removed the young part of our daughters’ lives and moved them from childhood straight to womanhood. We have pushed our daughters to mature into women and given them responsibilities that are not age appropriate.
How many times do you see young girls who are taking care of their younger siblings or taking on large responsibilities in the home? I am all for teaching our daughters how to run a home and how to take care of babies and children, and using their own siblings and their own homes is a great way to teach and train them.
This is definitely less expensive than having to rent out a family. However, I am not for pushing the responsibility of the mother over to these young girls to raise younger siblings or take care of the homes when mom is overwhelmed.
Yes, it is helpful to have your daughter be able to help with the household responsibilities in a pinch, but it is not her responsibility to run your home.
How can a young girl be expected to teach younger children the ins and outs of life when she is still in the thick of maturing herself? This is the job of older women and I think older women need to step up to the plate.
Within this trend, I notice a push to have younger girls wear clothing that is more modest than the rest of the world, but leans more towards looking like a miniature version of what mom wears.
The young daughter has the same hair style as mom, wears the same amount of makeup as mom and even the same style clothing as mom. No room for being a young individual girl here.
These girls find it hard to talk with other girls of the same age as they can’t relate to their peers because of the different pressures they face at home.
They are more comfortable talking with older moms about the hardships of running a household, keeping up with laundry, disciplining the children, and eking more money out of the family budget.
Are these things our daughters need to learn? Yes, but it needs to be at a more gradual pace in line with the actual maturity of the girl.
Young girls should not be burdened with the stress of the family budget or the frustration of dealing with rebellious children. Trust me, they will get that opportunity when they marry and start their own family.
Teach your daughters how to handle these things by example and give them Biblical wisdom in these areas, but don’t push those responsibilities onto them in your home.
In due season
Another aspect of this trend is the idea that young, inexperienced women, who are not married and do not yet have children, are fit to teach older women how to run their homes. I admit when I was younger I thought I too knew everything, even though I had not actually experienced running a home.
I was the best wife, mother, and woman in theory until I actually became one. Experience is not everything, but in this area, it sure does help.
Within the home school movement you can see this trend if you attend a home school conference. You will notice how many home school children are actually giving lectures and presentations to the homeschooling parents.
There is a big difference in being a homeschooled child and being a homeschooling parent. The responsibilities are completely different. The pressures and frustrations are not yet realized by these young inexperienced women (and men) who have not actually had to teach their own children.
Imagine my giving a seminar to older women on the effects of menopause and trying to convince them I know a better way for them to deal with it all when I have not yet gone through menopause.
Can I as a younger woman explore these things? Yes, and when that time comes for me, you can bet I am going to go to an older woman and ask for her knowledge and expertise in this area, not a younger woman who is in the thick of having babies.
Each home is different
If you are the mother of a daughter, you have to assess your own home and not fall into the trap of comparing it with another home. Don’t push your daughter to mature at the same rate of another girl in your circle.
Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. – 2 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV)
The young girl who dresses more modestly, is capable of running a home, or has input on topics above the knowledge level of her peers is not necessarily godlier than other young girls.
In fact, there is a greater danger of raising up a Pharisee, someone who shows forms of godliness on the outside but with no change on the inside.
The desire for modesty, pure speech, taking care of a home, etc. should be taught and modeled to our daughters, but not forced onto them from the outside.
Girls raised in Christian homes need to be free to still be innocent, fun-loving children, tweens, teens, and then young women.
If the heart of your daughter has truly been changed by Christ and she is given the time she needs to mature as a result of your Godly training, you will begin to see her develop into a Godly young woman first and then on to a Godly woman.