The culture your daughter must face today is often hostile to God's values. Too many girls are simply sucked into the culture, losing their virtue in the process. But with your help, your daughter can counteract the culture and live the life God wants for her.
Here are some ways you can raise a godly daughter in an ungodly world:
• Prepare for battle. Don't sit back and allow your daughter to be indoctrinated into the culture's current popular thinking by default. Commit to investing as much time and energy as it takes to train her to counteract the culture with God's timeless truths. Recognize the great power you have as her mother to influence your daughter. Model a life of faith in action for her, and regularly discuss biblical principles with her.
• Monitor her outside influences. Know who your daughter's friends are and what values they embrace. Help her eliminate negative influences and build a peer group of strong, godly friends. Set boundaries on the types of television shows, movies, music, magazines, books, and Web sites your daughter accesses. Regularly discuss media content with her and talk about how it relates to her faith.
• Help her choose courage over conformity. Teach your daughter how to be in the world without being of the world. Help her understand how to be transformed by the renewing of her mind. Explain to her why God set up moral absolutes of right and wrong so she doesn't cave into the fuzzy thinking of our culture's moral relativism. Demonstrate in your own life how to consistently follow God's Word. Acknowledge times when your faith has been inconsistent, ask your daughter's forgiveness for not modeling the integrity you want her to see, and ask God to help you do better.
• Teach her how to define her true self worth. Explain to your daughter that the world's formulas for defining self worth don't work. Let her know that her worth doesn't equal what she looks like (God is more concerned with her inner heart than her outward appearance), what she does (God cares more about who she is than her accomplishments), or what other people think of her (it only matters what God thinks). Tell her that God's formula is the only one that works: Her worth equals who she is in Jesus Christ.
• Refute myths about sex with the truth. Realize that you should be your daughter's primary source of information about sexuality. Strive to provide her with lots of accurate information. Refute the common myths that "Everyone is doing it," "As long as you love the person, it's okay to have sex," "It's not sex unless you go all the way," and "Condoms protect against unwanted pregnancies and STDs."
Help her understand some of the reasons she should wait until she's married to have sex: Her body is not her own; it belongs to God. A large majority of teen girls who have sex regret it. She will likely get a bad reputation if she does have premarital sex. One in four sexually active teens gets a sexually transmitted disease every year. Forty percent of sexually active girls will become pregnant at least once by age 20.
Help your daughter see that God's call for sexual purity is not exclusively meant for sexual intercourse, but for all sexual activity. Encourage her to make a personal pledge to God to save sex for marriage, and to seek out friends who have also made such pledges themselves. Let her know that God created sex as something beautiful to be enjoyed in the confines of marriage, and that if the gift if misused, it can have devastating physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences.
Encourage her to dress modestly. Explain to your daughter why dressing modestly is an important way to honor God with the body He has given her. Help her understand that immodest clothes send wrong messages to guys and stimulate them to think lustfully toward her. Let her know why choosing to be modest is a vital part of respecting her dignity as a person. Ask God to give her the confidence she needs to refrain from seeking attention in the wrong way, such as by dressing immodestly to flaunt her body and gain approval from others.
• Help her discern the difference between facts and fairy tales. Help prevent your daughter from falling for the cultural lie that finding her Prince Charming will equal a life that's happily ever after. Know that if she expects a guy to complete her, she's setting herself up for disappointment and heartache. Tell her that only Christ's love can completely fill her heart. Encourage her to pursue her ultimate needs through a relationship with Christ rather than trying to get them met through a romantic relationship.
Let her know that it's unfair and unreasonable to place the burden of her personal happiness on another person. Help her realize that healthy marriages include a big dose of reality and require time and hard work from both spouses.
• Create a wise plan for dating. Ask God to help you develop a plan for when your daughter becomes old enough to date. Don't allow her to date simply for fun or to be able to say that's she's going out with someone. Let her know that dating is not something she should enter into lightly.
Help her avoid dating that's based more on feelings that on God's standards. Don't let her get into a "joined-at-the-hip" dating relationship in which she and her boyfriend spend more time with each other than they do with their family and friends. Save her much heartache by not allowing her to date guys who aren't Christians.
* Help her choose kindness over meanness. Help her make sure that her peer group doesn't become a clique (a group that purposely excludes others and acts superior to everyone else). When another girl is mean to her, pray for that girl with her and encourage her to do something nice for the girl, knowing that her act of kindness may change the girl's heart.
Encourage your daughter not to participate in gossip, no matter how many others around her are doing so. Help her to avoid jealousy by coming to believe in the unique and special person God created her to be. Help her process moments of disappointment before they grow into jealousy.
• Help her get to know and trust the Bible. Explain to your daughter why the Bible isn't just another book filled with nice stories and principles; it's God's inspired, living Word. Help her understand that the Bible is God's revelation of Himself to people, unveiling His eternal plan for all humankind.
Let her know how the Bible's reliability is supported by archaeology, Scripture's consistency over the years, and fulfilled prophecy. Show her how the Bible is relevant to her life. Buy her a Bible of her own and help her set and maintain a regular devotional time.
• Help her learn how to pray. Encourage her to pray often, and to listen to God instead of just talking to Him. Explain the different types of prayers (praising God, confessing her sins and asking for forgiveness, thanking God, and asking God for something for herself or other people) and encourage her to pray a variety of prayers. Pray with and for your daughter regularly.
• Don't compromise your own faith so she won't want to compromise hers. Avoid these attitudes and behaviors: Not attending church regularly, worshipping only on Sundays (not integrating your faith into your life every day), worrying or failing to trust God in times of adversity, failing to follow God's principles for how you should use your money, whining instead of being grateful for God's blessings, not sharing your faith with others, molding your faith to fit your life rather than molding your life to fit your faith, letting your past rule your present and future rather than trusting God to heal you and help you move forward, being prideful and legalistic, and failing to have a daily quiet time.
Adapted from Your Girl: Raising a Godly Daughter in an Ungodly World, copyright 2004 by Vicki Courtney. Published by Broadman & Holman, Nashville, Tn., www.broadmanholman.com.
Vicki Courtney is "in the trenches" of ministry to preteen and teen girls and their mothers. She has seen firsthand the devastating consequences our provocative culture is having on women, both young and old. Vicki is the founder of Virtuous Reality Ministries and http://www.virtuousreality.com/, an online magazine for middle school girls, high school girls, college women, and adult women. She is a national speaker and the author of several Bible studies, including Virtuous Reality: The Virtuous Woman and Get a Life! She resides in Texas with her husband and three children.