Climbing trees, shooting BB guns, driving tractors…yes, I grew up a country girl. We lived on a farm with cats, dogs, and occasional chickens and horses. Being outside working with my dad was way more fun than being stuck in the house cooking and cleaning. One day, I approached my mom and declared that I would rather be a boy than a girl. I’m thankful she didn’t march me down to the nearest hospital for a gender change! Instead she simply replied, “Well, you are not a boy. God made you a girl, and that is what you are going to be.”
Nonetheless, I was Daddy’s girl! Before my feet could touch the ground, my dad put me on a motorcycle (much to my mother’s dismay) and instructed, “Now Barbie, just keep driving around the circle, and when you are ready to stop, turn this handle to slow down and I’ll catch you.” Everything was going well until I turned the handle the wrong way and it sped up! As my dad, the motorcycle, and I all ended up in a pile on the ground, my dad admitted that maybe I was just a little too young!
Another time, while up in the haymow in the barn, as I stood at the top of a ladder looking down at a giant pile of straw, my dad encouraged, “You can do it! Jump! It will be fun.” I was shaking, but because my daddy believed in me, I jumped!
One day, I was upset with a decision my mom had made, so when my dad got home from work I informed him that I was going to run away! He sympathized, “Oh, it was that bad today, huh? Well, come on, I’ll help you pack.” As we were in my bedroom packing he inquired, “So, have you thought about where you are going to sleep tonight? It may be too cold to sleep outside. And what about breakfast? Do you have any money or plans for food?” As our conversation continued I decided that maybe living at home wasn’t so bad after all! My daddy was my protector. He took the time to train me to think about my choices.
My mom didn’t always agree with my dad’s methods or decisions, but she never discredited him. She honored God’s chain of authority, and taught us kids that we also were to follow God’s plan. My mom was diligent in teaching me how to cook and sew, and I did it, but sadly I never did enjoy it. I was a Daddy’s girl! But my mom continued to teach me how to be a lady and instructed me “in the way that I should go,” and in time, when God got a hold of my heart and I surrendered my will to His will, that was exactly what I wanted to be.
When I got married and had a little girl of my own, guess what! She was a Daddy’s girl, too. She was often found with a doll in one hand and a gun in the other. I knew my little girl just like I was, and that I was going to have to work hard to teach her how to be a lady!
One summer, while we and a few other families were at the church camp taking a break from working, my teenage daughter was sitting at a picnic table minding her own business, when all of a sudden, she was shot with an airsoft gun. In one leap, she jumped over the table, grabbed the guy by the shoulders, and took him to the ground. I was horrified! My husband, on the other hand, was quite pleased, and proudly announced, “That’s my girl! No guy is going to pick on her!” Although it may be true that it was her daddy’s responsibility to protect her, I knew mine was to teach her to be a lady. As I approached her with a look of, ‘I can’t believe you just did that,’ she blurted out, “Why is it that just when I think I’m becoming a decent young lady, some guy has to do something stupid!?”
Although we moms may not successfully raise our daughter to be a “girly girl,” we should endeavor to teach her to be a godly lady. Titus 2:5 speaks of one being discreet: this means, careful in one’s speech or actions, especially in order to avoid causing offense; cautious, guarded. Chaste: pure in body, thoughts and desires; restrained; decent, modest, without unnecessary ornamentation. Keeper at home: One who guards her dwelling; to be fully aware of all the activities that go on in her home. Good: having strong moral principles; honest, trustworthy, respectful, blameless; worthy of honor and respect. And if she becomes a wife, Obedient to her own husband: Yielding to and in cooperation with his commands; submissive to his authority.
Yes, I was a Daddy’s girl, but all of these qualities, my mom successfully taught me by her example. No matter how you were raised, or how compelling the world’s philosophy of women may be, you can choose to be a godly lady, and then teach your daughter to be one, also. Prov. 31:30 says, “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”
By Barbara Russell
It’s an interesting study: training animals to socialize with humans. It is possible, and certainly easier with some species than others. I don’t know why someone would want a skunk for a pet, but then, people have said that very same thing about me and Ol’ PeeWee (our pet pig!). As you can imagine, the skunk is no Golden Retriever. He has a lot of obstacles to overcome in his life to be a proper companion, and even when he has been professionally trained, his nature is still lurking underneath, ready to protect “Stinky” when something scares him.
It seems there is such a craze these days for pets. What a money-making industry! Whether it is bedazzled pet clothes, all-natural homemade gluten free non-GMO dog food, or intense training classes, it is obvious people are devoted to their pets. They spend a lot of time, energy and money teaching whatever pet they have, how to socialize in their world.
I have to admit this is something that has been plaguing my brain lately. I am in new territory with our oldest two kids, and have been struggling with these social creatures. There are endless conversations between us parents, to determine their path, and what is expected of them. After I saw this cute little pet skunk video, and then a few videos of amazingly well-trained dogs (what can I say—I couldn’t help but click the next link), I was haunted by which one each of my children would be! Am I socializing my humans to interact with other humans in the best ways? Are they like the well-trained police dog, whose skill set is absolutely remarkable, or are they like the doofy Great Dane who jumps up on you and annoys you the minute you meet? Then there are those Border Collies, that seem to be just made for tricks! If only I could get Rhett to perform his toddler tricks so well (Staring at me and looking a little “slow,” is what I’ve been getting lately).
What things come into play when we are teaching our kids to interact with their peers? Personalities, strengths, weaknesses, family traits and gender to name a few. I’m constantly amazed at how Ellery and Timmy can be in the same social situation and react completely differently. Here are some rules I’ve come up with for myself to help guide them.
#1- Limit time with peers alone. Know what’s going on. Be within earshot of them. Don’t ignore them. Playdates are a great reward, and super fun—even for the moms. Don’t forget it is also the perfect opportunity to observe and listen to how your child is interacting with people other than their family. I’ve been shocked to hear some of the things my children have said! If you aren’t paying attention, you won’t ever know and be able to correct it. I think the proper word is “eavesdropping.”
#2- Let them talk to you all the time, and remember to listen. I get so sick of all the chatter and banter. I don’t care what Sally’s favorite sea creature is, and I don’t care to know that her room is decorated in unicorns, either. Oh, Sam’s favorite sport is hockey, and he hates the Packers? I DON’T CARE!! I really have to will myself to be an active listener, when all that talk is going on. Coming from the perspective of the Youth Leader’s wife, I can’t stress enough how important cultivating that relationship is. If you don’t, by the time they are teenagers such a relationship will not exist, and will be nearly impossible to recreate. If they aren’t talking to me, they are talking to or looking for someone else to talk to. It is vital to form the bond now, and to keep it healthy. If I listen to them, they listen to me. I can offer advice in a light way that will help guide them on how to interact with their friends.
#3- Stay humble. Recently one of the kids did something awful, and it ended up influencing a friend, too. I was completely embarrassed and blown away. We had some serious talking and punishments at home, but we also had some apologies to make. I was so grateful that the mom, dad and other adults involved were so kind and humble about it all. They could’ve judged me as a parent. They could’ve judged my child as a demon. Instead, they humbly accepted the apology, and then gave me the encouraging words of, “We’ve all been there.” I was so discouraged about it all, but that really helped me to pick myself back up and realize this was just another part of parenting.
#4- Know your fellow parents. Ellery was chattering to me about one thing or another, and I decided to do some fact checking. I opened up the dreaded group text, and the other moms checked in with their kids. No one got in trouble, but it did create a great opportunity to make sure everyone was telling the truth, and to have a conversation about being “fearfully and wonderfully made.” That was so encouraging to me. The mothers were mature and humble in checking it out. I wasn’t out to get anyone in trouble at all, but did want to hear what the other girls said from their own mouths, rather than just from Ellery’s. It was a great opportunity for input. I’m so glad I have great relationships with all the moms. Strive for that, and if there is a problem, take the time to have a conversation. Remember, we are all on the same team!
#5- Know when to call it quits. Have consistent problems with one friend? Have principled differences in the way you are raising your kids? Know when it is time to limit your child’s interaction with that peer, even if it is a fellow church member. Protecting our children from worldliness and bad behavior is more important than “making nice” all the time. The influence of friends is incredible in a child’s life; don’t take it lightly.
#6- Realize the importance of good, human interaction. Obviously, there is an amazing amount of spiritual value to rooting out social problems, and then identifying the wrong thoughts and feelings associated with the situation. It is a great way to reveal to your children their pride, and what is in their heart. At this age, any opportunity to remind them of their need for salvation is so very valuable, and truly God-given, at times. Aside from that, I also don’t want to raise any “weirdos.” I want to raise kids that grow up and can deal with a variety of different social situations and personalities with ease. I want them to be employable. I want my kids to show Christ, with maturity and kindness. Mostly, right now, I really want Rhett to perform like the Border Collie and do his tricks when I tell him to, so that the old people at the grocery store will think he’s cute. NO SUCH LUCK! Maybe I’ll take him to Canine Compliance Classes, and see if those work!?
By Malissa Custer