Last week, I shared my thoughts on teaching our sons to be men. Today, I'd like to talk about the other side of the equation, teaching our daughters to be women.
There was a time in our history, and that place is now in many cultures of the world, where women were perceived as property rather than as people. Over the years, women have made strides in the arenas of politics, business, and in the way society views them, but there are still some myths that abound. These myths detract from a woman's true worth and true purpose. These myths include:
1. A woman must be subservient to her husband.
2. A woman must hide her intelligence if she wants to get a husband.
3. A woman who wants to get ahead in business or politics must act like a man.
4. The best way for a woman to get attention is to dress immodestly and act silly.
With all the strides forward that have taken place for women over the last century, these myths push us back to where we started. We can claim women's lib all we want, but as long as these false beliefs continue to circulate, women never will attain the sense of fulfillment they desire. I suggest that as we raise our young women, we incorporate the following teachings:
1. A woman's true beauty is not dependent on her size, hair color, or how much skin she is showing. Beauty comes from strength of character.
2. Women can be successful in any arena without acting masculine to achieve it. They are not wimps and should not feel the need to deny the gentler sides of their gender to "prove" they can hack it in the world.
3. Women were given tremendous talents by our Heavenly Father for the purposes of enriching their own lives and the lives of those around them. They should not sacrifice the use of those gifts for any reason. While their schedules might revolve around motherhood or school for now, they should not deny those stirrings of creativity when they crop up. They should act out on them as they're able, and their husbands should support them in developing those talents and abilities.
4. God's plan for His children revolves around husbands and wives working together as a unit. Women play an absolutely crucial role in the plan of salvation, and they should work hard to gain a testimony of the key role they play and their worth in our Heavenly Father's eyes, a worth that goes beyond anything we can possibly imagine.
If I could somehow wave a magic wand and instill in my daughter all I want her to know, I would make her realize that being a daughter of God is quite simply the most beautiful, wonderful, desirous thing in creation. I would zap into her all the self-esteem and confidence I could, I would help her understand her true place in the kingdom, and I would cast out all her fear and feelings of inadequacy. But I can't do that. These are things she must gain for herself. But I can tell her every day of our Heavenly Father's love for her and the potential she carries within her, and I can try to live my life in such a way that she realizes that womanhood is noble, empowering, and yet also gracious and gentle.
Fathers, I wish to close with a note to you. Your influence on your daughter's life is more than you might ever realize. The way you interact with your daughter will determine the kind of husband she chooses later, and it will affect her own self-image. Treat your daughters like princesses, because they are, but also treat them with respect, as women of strength, because they are. Your positive influence is the key factor in determining how they will approach marriage, motherhood, and their own morality. Be men of faith and live up to your priesthood oaths, and encourage your daughters to seek out boyfriends who do the same. You can be the hero in your daughter's life.
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