I was a product of the 80's generation. Were you? I can't keep track exactly what label that is anymore, but all I remember is that no one ever championed motherhood for me. As a high schooler exploring her options, no one ever challenged me to aspire to motherhood. Not at home. Not at school. Not at church. Was that true for you too? Maybe it's where I grew up. Maybe it's my culture. But I am always amazed that no one ever told me that to be a mother was a legitimate profession and calling. So it is sometimes rather odd to think that now, God is asking me to speak up for moms. Never in a million years would I have thought this is what I would be doing today.
I haven't done the research and I doubt you even want to hear the statistics anyways. But doesn't it seem like our society is bent on erasing the differences between men and women nowadays? Women want equal rights for everything: pay, sexual freedom, even tackle football! I remember the slogan I heard growing up---"Whatever boys can do, girls can do---and better!" As a result, there is a tug-of-war for supremacy when it comes to men and women.
I see it in my own home too. I hear the ribbing they give each other about how boys are better than girls and vice versa. Most of it is in jest, but I have had to think about this area in their lives too. Do I want them to grow up with this kind of competitive spirit between males and females? I'm not trying to be a party pooper, but am I allowing these seeds to be sown in their lives at a young age and watering them?
Throughout Scripture, we see descriptions and examples of men and women, some of them direct and some of them indirect. Men are expected to work the land and provide for their families. They are expected to fight when needed and are shamed when women took that role instead (remember Deborah and Barak? Because Barak would not lead the troops and let Deborah lead instead, the satisfaction of defeating the enemy was given to a woman instead. Read his story in Judges 4:4-24.) They are given headship over their homes (Eph. 5:23) and are expected to lead them.
Now, these ideas are considered anti-women because they make women look small, weak and helpless. Maybe. But I don't think women look like that at all in the Bible. Yes, older women are called to train and help the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be workers at home and submissive to their own husbands (Titus 2:3-5). Somewhere along the way, we lost the perspective that it is a blessing and privilege to be a mother.
God created both male and female (Gen. 1:27); we are both created in His image. One is not superior to the other. In His sight, He does not make distinctions (Gal.3:28). When it comes to sin, we are equally guilty and both in need of a Savior. And when we come in faith before Him, He does not play favorites.
Yet while we are equal in value, He did not create us exactly alike. There are many studies in modern science that support the real, physiological, emotional and relational differences between men and women. In our world, we like to make things unisex, but that is not the way He intended. He created men and women to reflect different aspects of Him. When we learn to embrace those differences instead of fight them, I believe we will blossom into what He has desired for us as men and women.
As I had mentioned in my inaugural post in this series, these are issues that we as parents may need to grapple with first. We tend to pass on what we believe to our children. I personally have had to work through some of these issues. Until I did, I found myself trying to compete with my husband, trying to prove myself to him or feeling like I was a failure because I was not able to do what he was doing.
It took me awhile to appreciate the unique role I play as wife and mother in our family. I am still learning! But it was only as I began to appreciate and celebrate these differences that I was able to value the work I did at home.
This is important for us to grasp for our kids pick up these values, if not through our words, through our attitudes. If I am constantly trying to find my worth in my work outside the home, I will pass on the message to my daughter that a homemaking is not as important as a "real" job. And when that sinks into her, she will then pass it on to her kids, and so on and so on.
This doesn't mean that I am against women working. Far from it! I aspire to own my own home business. I want to work towards an advanced degree. I am equipping my high school daughter with what she needs to pursue higher education and helping her develop her own business. I want her to be able to help provide for her family, like the Proverbs 31 woman did.
But the difference for me is that I want Janna to love and cherish the role of being a wife and mother, if God should grant her the privilege someday, that she would embrace that as a good and desireable thing. That training starts now, in the home. That is why I am not against traditional toys for boys and girls. I want my daughter to cultivate a nurturing heart. I want my sons to develop a warrior spirit. When used for the glory of God and in tandem with one another, we help to raise a generation of godly men and women who flourish in their God-given roles. And there is no shame in that.
Raising Knights and Maidens
As I mentioned earlier, start with yourself. Are there gender issues you struggle with? Read Scripture with an open heart, asking God to show you His view of men and women. Learn to differentiate what is God's way vs. the world's way.
Learn to see yourself as a part of a team. Cultivate your marriage. It has been said that the best gift we can give our children is an example of a godly marriage. If there are issues between you and your husband, don't put off resolving them. The future of your children may be at stake.
Pray that God will help you to train your children as the future generation of men and women. They are the parents of your grandchildren! What do you want them to be? Bring those desires before God and ask Him for ways to help cultivate these traits in your kids.
Encourage and train traits that are appropriate for each gender in your children. For our daughter, I encourage her in industry at home, and give them opportuntinities to take care of children. Just last week, we had a discussion about cultivating godly relationships as a young woman and what a blessing our relational gifts are to this world. And yes, we are preparing her for the work world, but with the understanding that if the Lord blesses her with a family, it will come second.
For our sons, we train them to be hard workers too, but with the emphasis on providing for the family one day. We celebrate their warrior spirits, encouraging them to discern which are the right battles to fight! We are equipping them to take care of the yard and eventually, the cars. We teach them to be gentlemen and practice that at home with each other.
Last year, the movie Courageous came out, and with it a slew of criticism from the feminist community. But you know what? I am so glad to see men make a stand for God's call for them. I write this post with fear and trepidation, knowing that it could come back at me. We will need courage and boldness to disciple our children as men and women. And yet, what beauty there is when we trust God and step out in faith.
Resources, if you are interested:
Girltalk This site is great for moms who desire to better understand biblical womanhood.
MODSquad is a site that is geared for moms who desire to raise their daughters as godly women. Their blog discusses various issues girls today deal with.
High school curriculum: Blessed be the Man and Far Above Rubies by Lynda Coates are unit study type curricula. We are using bits and pieces of it to create a tailor-made curriculum for our children in specific areas. I got my copy through Homeschool Radio Shows a few years ago as a digital download.
How are you raising your sons and daughters to reflect the multi-faceted image of God?
Any thoughts, suggestions or practical ideas?
Feel free to comment!