Anyone who has spent five minutes with teenage girls knows the absolute importance of providing a solid Christian example for them to emulate. Mainstream society seeks to define girls on its terms instead of Christ’s. Everywhere, teenage girls are bombarded by lurid examples of what the world wants them to be. Where are they encountering examples of what Christ wants them to be?
thESource editorial staff had the chance to talk with Jan Gilbert, mother of two daughters and twin sons, to glean her perspective on providing a solid example of faith to teenage girls. This resulting article is aimed toward Christian mothers, but it also proves an excellent resource for female and male youth workers seeking to fill the gaps present in many teens’ lives.
Take a minute to read what one Christian mother has to say about the importance of ministering to girls and young women. Perhaps, you’ll find a kernel or two to share with the mothers in your congregation.
- As a mother, understand and embrace your God-given role for it is a gift and a great honor. Take your motherhood seriously and commit to fulfilling your role. Pray daily. Pray that God will work in you to make you exactly the mother He wants you to be. Pray daily for your daughter that she will become exactly the woman that God wants her to be.
- As a Christian parent, you are called by God to instill in your child values that are consistent with the direction that He has given to all His people. Don’t compromise. Don’t allow the world, popular society, or humanistic thinking to reduce or rationalize away the values God clearly communicates to us in His Word. Know those values by knowing the Book through which God has communicated them. Teach your child about the Lord, and show your child the real source of character and meaning by living your life in the context of your relationship with Him.
- Be clear in communicating the truth that the God who established the values in Scripture is the maker of all things. He truly knows what works because He created what works, and He gives us direction so that we can experience His blessing. It doesn’t matter that the world, popular culture, and your child’s peer group may think those values are stupid, meaningless, or no longer applicable.
- Watch for articles, studies, and real-life examples that confirm that adhering to God’s values will bring blessing and genuine happiness in life, and share these things without being preachy.
- Listen with genuine interest and full attention to everything your daughter would like to tell you. Give to your daughter the gift of your time.
- Talk with your daughter about everything. Don’t let embarrassment about a topic or about mistakes you have made yourself stop you from addressing critical issues.
- Speak with her as one whose thoughts and ideas are important and whose judgments and opinions are worth hearing–even in cases where there is not agreement. Respect your child and treat her with respect. Then, be a respectable person yourself so that she may respect you. Strive to live according to God’s values, without exception.
- When you talk with your daughter, be specific. Speak plainly about the fact that using drugs or alcohol illegally and engaging in pre-marital sex are dangerous and hurtful and that abstaining from them brings blessing and genuine happiness in life. Be clear about the danger, but keep your focus positive–don’t only discuss what not to do, but why and how to do the right thing. Share your genuine desire for your daughter to experience the good things that result from doing the right thing and avoiding the bad.
- Be clear in your expectations for her behavior and in the limits that you set, but do so in the context of your care and concern for her safety and well being. Acknowledge that sometimes she just has to accept and trust your judgment. Set the standard that as a matter of love and respect she will always keep you informed as to where she is going and with whom, and that you will do the same for her.
- Teach your daughter to be committed and prepared to say no to hurtful and dangerous activities before she is in a situation in which she may be confronted with making those tough decisions.
- Teach your daughter that the gift of sex is a wonderful treasure from God, that He created it for our blessing and genuine happiness. Teach her that we experience the blessing and happiness that He intended for it when we save it for the context for which he created it–marriage. Teach her that when she saves this gift for only her husband, she is being faithful to him, even before she knows who he is. It will be not only a gift to him but to herself, to their marriage, and to their children.
- Trust her and expect that she will do the right thing.
- When she fails, be clear about consequences and about what must happen for her to regain your trust, but do so with love and concern.
- When you fail, don’t try to cover it up. Confess your failing and your regret, not only for the error that it is but for the fact that you have fallen short in being the best role model for her that you can. Ask for forgiveness.
- Love and respect your husband. Be open with your affection and mutual respect, and show clearly that you and he are partner, lover, and friend to each other–exclusively for each other. Model for your daughter the kind of marriage relationship you would like her to have.
- Be her guide and mentor without being autocratic. Be her friend without trying to be a buddy/peer.
- Let her know that there may be a period of time in the years ahead when you do not agree, that this is a stage in the parent-child relationship that comes for most parents and children. Talk about this stage before it happens. Tell your daughter that when this time comes she may think you are unreasonable or totally ignorant, but that you must continue to act on the responsibility that God has given you as her mother. Let her know, too, that the two of you together will get through those years, that the time of strife will end and your relationship will be closer and stronger as you both grow in maturity. The reassurance that stages don’t last forever will be a comfort to both of you.
- Then, when you just don’t know what else to do, pray.
Published February 2004