What is Happening to Our Little Girls? Part 2: Guarding Their Hearts
Depression, eating disorders, and teen pregnancy are all on the rise among school-aged girls. Oral sex is the norm for many middle schoolers. Sexting is becoming more and more common every day. Girls are dressing and acting in ways far beyond their age. This didn’t happen to these kids overnight. As I said in Part 1 of this series, I believe these things come partly as a result of the over-sexualization of our girls from a young age.
But should we give up hope? Should be let fear rule us and shelter our children completely from the outside world? I don’t think so. We are to be the hope. We are to teach our children to be in this world, but not of this world. But this is a process, a learning process for them. We can make a difference.
Proverbs 4:23 says:
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Our little girls’ hearts are precious. The constant presence of sexual images, messages, songs, toys, and clothing can contaminate their hearts. Young girls have no filter or perspective. What they see and hear is reality to them. Until we have taught them the tools, and they are mature enough to guard their own heart, we must guard it for them, slowly loosening the reigns of independence over time.
As parents our goal is to teach them to make right decisions, by themselves. Children do not come out of the womb knowing what is right. They have no reference point for truth unless we teach it to them. Initially we can’t expect them to make right choices. We will need to make choices for them. We are their parents.
The world we live in has a loud voice so need to have a louder one. Children take in everything they see and hear around them whether we (or they) realize it or not. They are like sponges. What do we want them to soak up?
Here are a few ways that we can guard our girls’ hearts from an oversexualized society. My hope is that as we do this, out of those precious hearts, true beauty will flow.
I want to be clear that the level in which you do these things will vary greatly depending on the age and maturity of your specific child/ren. What might be appropriate for a 13 year old, might not be appropriate for a 6 year old. You can’t, and shouldn’t, always be controlling everything your girls do. If you do this, you rob them of the extremely value lesson of choosing right decisions on their own, something that will be vital to them as they navigate the waters of learning to guard their own heart.
1. Pray-First and foremost, we must pray. We need God to lead us and direct our paths. We need wisdom to know when to speak and when to keep our mouths shut, when to step in and when to step back. We need to pray that God, Himself, will protect our children.
2. Have Open Communication-Talk with your girls and talk often. Talk about sex openly and honestly. They will hear it from someone, and it’s best if that someone is you, where they can receive the truth. Talk about God’s design for sex. Be a good listener. Don’t make it a one time conversation. Your girls need to know they are always welcome to come to you and chat. They should never feel it is an off-limits topic. When your child see sexual images that are not appropriate for them, talk about it. You will not always be able to remove every questionable piece of material. Use it as a teaching point.
3. Praise Your Girls-Praise them for good grades. Praise them for hard work. Praise them for creativeness. Praise them for kindness. Praise them for leadership. They need to know their worth and value is not tied to their sexual appeal.
4. Be Aware and Intentional About What They See & Hear-Choose music for your family that is wholesome. Put a filter on your computer. We all know how easy it is for images we don’t approve of to show up on our computer unintentionally. Be mindful of the movies and TV shows your girls watch. Choose things where girls are not constantly talking about impressing boys, wearing immodest clothing, etc.
5. Buy Your Girls Modest Clothing-Use this as a time to explain why modestly is important. In no way do you need to be a prude or dress your girls in long dresses and long sleeves all the time. With a little bit of searching you can find fun clothing both you and your daughter like that is not revealing or sexy. My dad, wrote a great post on modesty that I encourage you to read.
6. Choose Toys that Don’t Objectify Women-Are the toys you are buying for your girls contradicting what you are teaching them about modesty, sexuality, and self-worth? There are many wonderful options to choose from that don’t objectify women. Don’t settle for what is “popular” and overflowing on the toy store shelves.
7. Tell Them They are Beautiful-Girls need to hear they are beautiful, particularly from their dads, but from their mothers as well. Tell them often. Girls need to know they are beautiful without tons of makeup and a sexy dress on. If they do not feel validated at home, they will look elsewhere.
8. Be an Example-Moms…Do you obsess about your looks? Do you comment on how fat you are, how your pants are too tight, how your nose is crooked? Do you wear immodest clothing when you go out? Your girls take notice. It has been said time and time again that the most important role model for a child is the same sex parent. Have a healthy self-image of yourself so that you can create one in your daughter. Dads…Do you treat women with respect? Do your children see you loving on your wife regardless of if she is in her pajamas or in a hot black dress? Your girls will look to you as a model for how they should expect men to treat them. Set the standard high.
9. Be a Safe Place to Land-Life for your girls can be hard. They will not be perfect. They will screw up just as you did. Be a safe place for them. Make sure they know that no matter what, they will be loved and supported. You don’t ever want your girls to feel like they have to hide things from you. Be gracious in how you handle their failures. This doesn’t mean you dismiss their disobedience or never offer consequences. Love them as Christ loves you.
You can do it parents! It’s a battle worth fighting. Our girls’ hearts are worth guarding.