Are Girls a Product of What Their Moms Model and Dads Affirm?

Hannah and Sender, 12/23/2006
This question came from a mom of three young children.  "Are girls a product of what their moms model and dads affirm?  If so, should I focus on what I'm modeling for my girls?  Is there a parallel statement for boys?"  Actually, this question was more in the form of a statement in paragraph form, where I was then asked if it's true and all made sense.  The friend and I wound up talking on the phone for over 30 minutes, to clarify and discuss the issue.  I wish I had recorded that conversation, because I'm sure I won't remember every detail and revelation that we discussed and determined.  But I'll do my best to capture the thoughts here.

Obviously, this is a complicated, heavily-nuanced issue.  To give some background to the question, these friends (this mom and her husband) think that girls tend to be shaped their Moms' examples (for better or for worse), whether they follow their example or go completely in the opposite direction.  Likewise, from their experiences and learning, girls seem to be shaped by what their Dads affirm or fail to affirm.  They were wondering if their insight was true or off-base.

As a whole, I would agree with them.  This is not at all to discount what Moms need to teach or what Dads need to model.  Moms need to affirm and teach the attitudes, behaviors, and skills that a godly woman needs to know.  Dads need to model what a loving and godly man looks like (such as how he "dates" his daughter).  But from what I have seen and been taught, there is something unique about how men and women can each contribute to the life of little girls (and boys, for that matter).  Here are some examples:
  1. From this article, the big thing that will stick with me was when this father writes, "I do most of the teaching.  My wife does all of the modeling."  
  2. From my experience in Children's Ministry, it was so obvious that all kids (boys and girls, no matter how old) pay attention and are engaged on a whole different level when men are leading and teaching.  This was my observation, and that of 100's of volunteers and staff.  
  3. In this article about parenting, Wayne Stocks gives a list (not an exclusive one) of what kids need from their fathers.  Yes, modeling is big in both cases, but teaching/affirming is also crucial.
    • Sons need their Dads to model manhood, to love, and to teach.
    • Daughters need Dads to love, respect, lead, affirm, and be humble.  
  4. Years ago, when Hannah was a baby, I heard a teacher on a radio show (probably on Focus on the Family) say that Dads need to have the sex talk with daughters.  I don't know if he said that Dads need to do all of the talking (I hope not!), but the point is that Dad MUST be a part of the conversation.  Of course, I am much closer to this reality now that Hannah is 9 years old.  
  5. As for moms, what does it look like to be a model?  Our church has been working on curriculum and a language for Biblical womanhood.  We will be rolling out more and more, but you can read more about Feminine Reflection.

    One more thing to thing to remember, that children are not just influenced by Dads and Moms.  It is really about a culmination of all influential men and women in their lives.  Even with the best parenting, there is still plenty of room for other mentors in our kids' lives.

    Read the next post, in which I'll give some thoughts as this topic relates to boys, and I'll also give some closing thoughts.

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    1 comment :

    1. I really enjoy this blog post. It is a huge and great reminder how my behavior is taught to my kiddos. I have been discussing with my sis this past week about how we both struggle with certain areas in our marriage due to the way our Mom modeled behaviors toward our father. It has been a huge weakness in my own life to really show proper respect to my husband, as I know I ought, and am trying to improve, but it is so easy to fall into certain habits that I saw growing up. And as I see my daughters acting out based on some of my own behaviors they have seen modeled, is a huge eye opener. It is very daunting to keep this concept in front of us. I am so thankful for God's grace, and I have so much more to learn in this and many other areas as well.