More than ever our girls need to hear that they are worthy of respect. We don’t mean the false platitudes and Wonder Woman memes and we certainly don’t mean the types of jokes that put down men or denigrates the need for men.
What our girls need to hear (and they need to hear this from you dads!) is that true respect is demonstrated in outward behavior – behavior that is loving and caring and kind. It is not crude, it never demeans or makes her feel ugly, fat or less than.
Explain to her that jokes made at her expense, words that are said to embarrass her, knowingly doing and saying things that are hurtful – are behaviors not to be tolerated.
Dads, you need to start telling your daughter that she is not only worthy but that she deserves to be treated with respect by any boy in her life. She needs to hear that any boy who is unable to encourage her, lift her up, and inspire her will fail her in marriage.
Give examples of what this looks like. Sometimes it can feel disingenuous to use ourselves as examples, so using others can often be even more powerful. Think about men who you see demonstrate Godly love and respect whether it’s her grandfather, uncle or family friend. Be sure you point out what respect looks like and how to identify it.
When our girls aren’t told what to expect from members of the opposite sex, then they will accept what the world tells them to expect – which isn’t much. Too often our culture allows boys to be crude and it’s passed off as “boys will be boys”. Our culture teaches our young women that they need to look pretty, be thin and be sexually free. We’ve gone so far in society as to proclaim a message that men aren’t even necessary, that women can do everything on their own and are even better off alone! Although that may be true for your daughter (we all want strong, independent daughters, right?) that isn’t the Biblical message of male and female relationships. We were created to complement one another.
When we as parents, allow our girls to buy into these cultural norms, we are setting our daughters up for a lot of insecurity, anger, disappointment, and heartache.
Fathers – please take time to talk to your daughters. Tell her that it’s OK to demand respect for herself and from the boy she chooses to spend time with. She needs to hear from her dad that not all boys are kind, well-meaning or want what is best for her.
This is also a chance to give her a purity ring as a symbol of her value and to serve as a reminder of her two fathers – you, who would do anything for her and her heavenly father – who already has.