Quick Query: Should We Treat Our Daughters Differently?

Yesterday, I wrote an article about moms who encourage masculinity in their young daughters. One reader left this comment:
Dawn wrote:
Great post! This is an area that I've been contemplating lately, since I have a daughter who is about to turn 15 and another 9 yod.

I guess part of my dilemna is how much do we push our daughters towards a career or do we just train for being a wife and mother? I guess I was fortunate to have had both training. I have a Master's degree and have worked in my field for a number of years, but feel that right now my true calling is being home for my family. (Although financially right now it looks like I may have to return to the work force, even though I don't really want to.)

Lots to think about.
So, I want to bring it to you for discussion. I've read many different opinions on this issue among Bible-believing Christians women, and I'd like to hear yours. 

Please think realistically as you form your thoughts... don't just say, "well by age 18 I'll be expecting a marriage proposal for her and then she'll never need to work, because she'll stay home with her 67 children and homeschool, and her husband will never die or get sick, so she'll never even need something to fall back on." I would also encourage you to think about how much feminism has affected your thinking in this area: do we really think that women are suited to do every job just as well as a man can? 

Let's think through all the issues carefully and each share how we'll approach this with our own daughters.


Should we treat our daughters differently from how we would treat a son, as we prepare them for adult life? I look forward to hearing your thoughts...


Steph VG said...

My first thought was, "Yes, of COURSE we should treat daughters differently, because they will have different roles than sons will."

I have a BA in Piano Performance. I am considering pursuing a MA in Biblical Counseling. Based on the demographics of the area in which we live, I am very highly educated. Whatever that means. When I married, I was severely under-educated in terms of homekeeping. I had no idea what I was doing, and I've had to learn by doing and reading since then...and I'm still not sure what I'm doing!

My personal opinion, then, is yes, we should treat them differently, to an extent. Both daughters and sons should be taught principles that will help them fulfill their God-given roles as adults, because whether they marry or not, they won't grow up and move into an office building and work 24/7. They will have homes, families (maybe), church families, ministry involvement. They will have things to do outside a career.

I don't mean that daughters should never be taught how to fix something with a hammer or screwdriver, or that sons should never learn to do their own laundry or cook. Neither does it mean that sons should be prepared for college and daughters shouldn't be. But if we're raising children to be the next generation of the Church Triumphant, an example to a watching world of what God's people should be, we should raise them as God created them to be - feminine and masculine.

(Sorry for the long comment.)

Jess said...

You shouldn't at all feel the need to apologize for a "long comment"! ;) I welcome them... it is often the case that a long comment is required to fully examine a question... so don't feel bad at all!

Thanks for your thoughts!

dcrmom said...

I think Steph said it well. I will definitely encourage my daughters to be educated. I hope they both get a college degree. I will do everything I can to pay for it. I will definitely encourage them to train for a paying career, even if they get married when they are 18 and start a family right away. A woman should be able to support herself if she needs to. And education just makes you a better wife and mother, in my opinion. I really hate to hear about Christian families raising their daughters ONLY to be wives and mothers, as if they can guarantee they will never need to support themselves. They may not find a marriage partner until later in life or ever. They may become widowed, or their husbands disabled. I could go on, but I'll spare you. ;-) I do not think I will encourage my daughters to pursue a career such as a doctor or lawyer (to name just a few) that require HUGE time commitments and a lot of schooling. Because I do hope my daughters aspire to be wives and mothers, and I do not think "big" careers are conducive to that. I know the feminists are shuddering, but oh well.

I will also teach them to clean house and that there is value in housework. I hope that they both marry wonderful Christian men and are able to stay home and raise their children.

I will encourage my son to seek as much education as he desires. I will teach him that it is his primary job to support a family, but that a big career and big bucks is not the end-all, be-all either. I will teach him to do laundry and housework so he can be a help to his future wife or so that he can survive on his own as long as he may live alone.

Does that answer your question at all? You said long comments are fine! ;-)

Danielle said...

Yes, I think that boys and girls should be raised differently, and that boys should be prepared to be the primary breadwinner in their home, while girls should be primarliy prepared to be their husband's help-meet. But I don't think that necessarily means that girls shouldn't ever go to college, since having a college degree might actually enable them to be a better help-meet to their husbands. Who knows? It's not a one size fits all world and we need to prayerfully weigh the options that God sets before us.

I do think that girls should have skills that will enable them to make money if that should ever be necessary, but making money should not be the goal of a girl's education, nor should we spend too much time preparing for an unlikely event, such as the death of a spouse. Much as we might like, we can't prepare our children for every contingency that might arise, no matter how much or how long we educate them, and to some extent we all have to trust the Lord to take care of us..

I've been thinking a lot about this one lately, as my 12yo daughter, who has a definite math-science brain, has been expressing a desire to become a doctor. I'm fine with my daughter's desire, and I think that being a doctor can be compatible with Biblical womanhood. But we've already told her that being a wife and mother are more important callings, and that if she meets a man she wants to marry, then she should not feel like she has to continue school or a career.

I do want to make sure that she has all the housekeeping basics down by the time she's 18. She's already a good cook, starting to learn how to sew, and she's getting lots of experience with younger brothers and sisters but she definitely needs to work on organization and cleaning. Looking at her abilities now, I think we're pretty well on track. At least, she's already ahead of where I was in housekeeping skills when I got married.

Goodness, this has gotten long too!


Kimberly said...

I have enjoyed this post and the comments made thus far! I agree and can only add an additional dimension.

I am thankful that I have my Masters in Physical Therapy. I am not happy about my enormous student loan that I am still paying on (even after 10 years).

So, although I'd like my daughter to achieve as much education as she desires, I hope that somehow it can be done without debt.

Rebecca said...

Great discussion! I have two older teen girls who both want to get married and stay home, raise large families and homeschool. I love that! So, at first consideration, my answer would be yes.

What my daughters always point out is how conflicted many young women end up when they have prepared for a career and then been blessed with a family.

We have also discussed the help that we would be willing to give if either of them were ever to be widowed.

But then, at the most basic, what we need to prepare both girls and boys for is to serve God. That may look a little different for each one, but it's going to look alot different from what the world is doing.

Rebekah said...

This is a question I wrestle with right now because I have four children, and three of them are little ladies.

I feel very strongly about the different purpose that God has for women, and I personally feel (because of what I read in the Bible) that God has ordained men to be the ones to provide for the family, and women are to be the keepers of the home. Right now I have to work full-time, and I struggle with the understanding that I'm not in God's will. I work three twelve-hour night shifts a week so that I don't have to use childcare. My job provides for needs, not 'extras'. Now, I feel very strongly that I should be able to commit all my time and energy to my family, my home, and christian work that God has called me to, but my husband is not in a place yet to support my quitting. So, I stay put and pray and trust the Lord for his intervention and help. I don't have a career. I have a job. I never finished college. From the time I was a child my greatest desire was to have a family and to be a wife and mother.

Although I feel so strongly about God's will for men and women and their roles in life, I still notice that I have our societies values and ideas ingrained in my mind. I will find myself making more comments to my oldest daughter about college and a career than a home and family. I somehow feel pressured to stick with the cultural norm out of fear, and I do this without thinking about until after I've already made a statement! Even among christians (or at least the ones I'm in contact with) both young men and young women are expected to go to college after school. People look down on young couples who marry before they've finished their education, and they especially shake their heads at couples who never finish. To most people where I am from marrying young is bad, and it will almost definiately end in divorce. So, a woman should definately have something to fall back on so she can support herself.

What I see in myself and in others seems to be unbelief. If God has set women apart for a specific job and purpose, I should teach my daughters what the will of God is, and I should trust Him to bring it to pass as he sees fit. If God leads my daughters to pursue an education I will most definately support it! But, if they marry and have children I will pray (and should start praying now)that he will make a way for my daughters to fulfill the high calling he has given them as wives and mothers.

So, yes, I will treat my daughters differently and teach them differently because God has created them with a different role and purpose. It's a beautiful thing to be a woman, and I want them to understand this. Most importantly, I will do my best to instill in them a love for the Word of God. If they love Him and his Word, then they will love his ways and his perfect will.

Thanks for letting me comment!

heather said...

Great discussion! I may be a bit redundant in my comments as what I have read in the many other comments seems to include what I would write, but I will forge ahead, redundant or not. I am college educated and was married the week after my college graduation. I worked part-time for almost 4 years, until the birth of my first child. First, yes, we certainly do encourage our boys and girls differently in regard to career training. Each gender has exciting abilities and responsibilities, so it is not a matter of one being better or more exciting than the other, but rather it is a matter of obeying scripture first and then pursuing God-given talents and interests.

I appreciate my degree, but I believe that what is more important than a degree is being a woman who is capable in a variety of areas (think of Proverbs 31). I have several friends who have degrees in fields such as education and medicine who feel much pressure to keep up their credentials. One friend returned to work, against her motherly desires, because she didn’t want to fall behind professionally. I tell my daughter over and over, if you go to college, and I say “if” because it is an option, not a requirement. I encourage her to pursue a field that will allow her to place family first. I will also note that I have another friend who has a degree in education and has blended that wonderfully with a family and made the degree really work for her as opposed to feeling obligated to the degree.

My oldest daughter is 11 (she actually joined our family when she was 7-so I don’t have 11 years parenting experience, only 5-I am a newbie), and we are encouraging her to pursue interests she has that are able to also generate an income down the road, should that be a need. She is taking piano and sewing lessons instead of the horse-back riding lessons several friends are taking. My husband and I feel that learning these skills, which she happens to thoroughly enjoy, will allow her to offer lessons down the road to other girls. Thus providing opportunities for both income and/or Titus 2 mentoring through teaching a skill. These skills also have the potential to be a huge blessing to her family and to a church body. That is the criteria we used in deciding where to direct her time and energy. Horse-back riding lessons are not a bad thing, not at all, but they don’t fit the direction we are going at this time.

Male or female, our time is not our own. We belong to God and our time and talents are to be used for His glory. I believe we have freedom to pursue interests we may have but we also need to be willing to lay aside personal interests if it does not fit with where God has us for a season or for our life. My husband was set on going to law school, but chose a different career direction because he felt that career was not going to help him to be the man he needed to be. Being a layer is not bad, but it was not the best direction for him. He had the ability, the financial resources and the opinions of several people that that was what he needed to do, but he, wisely went a different direction. Some thought he was a fool for walking away from that, but when I see the man he is today, I am amazed at how God has moved him in a direction we never would have imagined, but that is a perfect fit for him and for our family.

Samantha said...

I'm 19 at the moment, still living at home (and no, I don't want to move out, I get really tired of everybody asking me that all the time, as if it's a requirement) and I'm studing for my Bachelor degree in biology and I do plan on getting my Masters degree too. It has always been a calling for me, I've always wanted to go into the biology field, ever since I was a little girl (6 or 7, maybe even before that). I want to do research and help conserve the earth. I do want to combine that with a family, should I be blessed with one, and am planning my education so it is possible. The direction I am taking my education will enable me to either work part-time and will enable me to go into education, meaning I will have all of the holidays off, so I can be with my children (if I am blessed with them).

But did my parents treat me like a boy (I'm an only child because my mother has fertility problems)? No. Did they ever make me feel like it was required to go to college? No. I think it is wholly possible to do both, get a higher education and be feminine. I love to cook, often do, I love to garden, do that a lot to (I'm going to try my hand at a vegetable garden this year). I actually like cleaning (well, most of the time). And I like learning, like knowing I will never NEED to depend on a husband to provide for me. I might depend on him, but I do have the choice, and should life trow me in a situation where it is neccesary to provide for myself or my family, I will be able to do that. And that makes me feel good.

Well, that were my two cents.


mere said...

I do agree with pretty much everything that has been written here, but I do want to point out three things:

My OBGYN is a woman, and my husband and I chose this for modesty reasons. We both feel more comfortable with a female doctor for me.

All of the labor and delivery nurses that I have had have been female, and only one post-partum nurse has been male, and it was just weird.

Most midwives are female. In fact I've never heard of a "mid-husband".

All of these very specialized professions require college and staying in the field to maintain skills. Sometimes women who have a family while in one of these professions are able to stay home for a while, but others are called to go back to work.

If my daughter is truly gifted to do these same things, and be able to minister to other women who may be christians like us or not, then I want to encourage her to pursue those goals, because I really want there to be women (especially christian women) in those fields. Likewise, if she is called to be a keeper of the home, I would never make her feel that she is wasting her talents at home, as my family has done to me.

I will insist that she go to college only with an end goal in mind, not because she feels pushed to go by us or her peers. I'd also insist that she go close enough to home that she could remain at home with us.

I've really enjoyed this blog and this discussion. Thanks for having me!


EmmyJMommy said...

I absolutely agree that we should raise our boys and our girls differently. They are completely different beings. Look at the way a little girl plays and a little boy plays. A little girl will pick up a stuffed animal, say a lion, cradle it and begin to sing to it, feed it, put it to sleep, even put doll clothes on it (or her own t-shirt if she can't find doll clothes). A little boy will pick up the same stuffed lion, crawl around the room, roar, try to chase all of the toys and shoes on the floor until the lion finally has his prey...and then pretend to devour it! The God given natural differences between boys and girls are seen at such a young age. Now, that does not mean that some little girls are not going to react to the lion as the little boy in my example would, or vice versa, but in those cases, they are more than likely mimicking what they are seeing an older sibling doing. My example for this is that my son, who is ALL boy, always wants his toe nails painted and make up on when I am playing with toe polish and make up with his older sister...he wants to mimic and be a part of the little girl play. My dh does not allow it (even though he has had both toe nail polish and lip gloss on at one time or another).

I am and will continue to teach my children diligently that there are Scriptural differences in boys and girls. Boys/men are called to be the head of the house. Girls/women are called to be helpmates to their husbands. That does not mean that I want my son to be a money driven man...I don't, I want him to love what he does, but I want him to see his work as ministry to God's Kingdom. I want him to seek his place in life to further the work of our Lord and Savior, and my dh and I will do everything we can to encourage and lead him to that. As for my daughter, I want her to feel success in her life. I pray that she is called to be a stay-at-home mom, but if she isn't, I will be okay with that. I am not a stay-at-hom mom, and I struggle with it everyday. I want her to pursue an education beyond high school, but if she doesn't feel it is what God has in plan for her life, I hope to have the foresight to support her in that.

I, like so many of the other responders, regret that this is so long, but it is a great quick query, and really makes me think about my hopes and dreams for my children and are they aligned with God's.

Thanks, Jess!!!

Kim said...

In some instances, I am thankful that my parents pushed me to go to college. I feel that it has given me a basis of education that I am and will be able to fall back on if need be. At the same time, I wish that perhaps they had been a little more in tune with my desires and my God-given calling as a female to stay at home and be a wife and mother. I say this because I was in a serious relationship as an 18 year old, and if my parents had supported me, I would probably be married right now and a stay at home mom.

(That said that guy was obviously not the right guy, and my parents had their reservations for a reason, but one of the biggest downfalls of that relationship was too much time...)

Anyway. I do think they should be raised differently, but as far as being prepared to work - I think it's a good idea, in case a woman (or a man) is single for an extended period of adulthood.

*~Tamara~* said...

It will come as no surprise, I'm sure, that I do think we should treat them differently. Men and women are different and therefore boys and girls (who will grow up to be men and women) are going to need to be prepared differently.

In a way I think girls have a harder row to hoe in this regard. Men need to have a profession, some sort of skill that will provide for himself and his family if he has one. Women need the skills to be a wife and mother, as well as a professional skill if she ever wants or needs to enter the workplace.

I am always a bit put off by the parents who say they expect their daughter to get married, have babies, etc, so she does not need an education. Education is a benefit in it's own right, whether you eventually utilize your knowledge in a work capacity or not! I have a great deal of distaste for relegating daughters to only "home oriented" tasks without thought that she may very well possess other gifts that they will never know about because she has been constrained by a gender stereotype. It also seems like very poor planning to me, because frankly life throws us for a loop quite often. She may never marry. She may be a terrible cook. She may never have children and want to work instead. Her husband may become ill, die, or even leave her. Any number of scenarios could play out that training only as "wife and mom" will likely not provide for.

I think it's really important to remember that not all of our daughters will have, or will want to have, children. So while we might make sure to train her in changing diapers and cooking and balancing a household budget, we need to also keep in mind that she might be a teacher or a nurse or an astronaut some day. I think we cheat our daughters when we assume we know their future.

I'm slowly but surely teaching my only daughter to cook and currently we're working on organization and maintenance of a home by practicing in her room. (This is a perilous task... *grin* ) There are other wife/mom things I've already taught her and many more to come. However, she is adamant that she wants to be a veterinarian and I am encouraging her in that as well. She loves all of God's creatures and spent half an hour today watching a green caterpillar on a tree stump. God gave her that fascination, and I feel like it's my job to encourage her gifts and abilities in all areas, not just ones within the parameters of what many people see as a "Godly" wife and mom.

OK, I'll be quiet now. I'm starting to ramble. :-D

sealjoy said...

I guess I have a slightly different opinion. I grew up a "tom boy" and rejected those thing that I thought were "girly". Why, because I saw my mom HAVE (she was a widow) to take on the role of both parents. She had to be strong (both physically and emotionally) and everything for us. She tried to get me to be a little girl, but I rebelled on that.

Now, I was taken to task by God on my view. During my time being deployed for the war, I suddenly found I liked frilly, I liked pink, I liked girly.

But In training a child, Yes women have roles that God puts them in. But I heard a radio show not to long ago that best describes it for me. Your children have a destiny already, their path is set, their personality is written by God. It is up to you to learn and encourage you child in the path God set for them and the talents he gave them. If your daughter can fix things, encourage them in that talent, if your son can dance, let him. They can each do those things, a daughter can fix things in a feminine way, just as a son can dance in a masculine way.

I love dressing up my daughter in pink and as I call it getting "perdified" (she is 6mo), but thanks to this blog, I now can make sure they are not only beautiful clothes, feminine clothes, but most of all modest ones.

I think we should Not treat our sons and daughter differently BECAUSE they are Sons vs Daughters, but because they are unique individuals that God made. Too many fall into the trap of raising boys and saying "boys will be boys" and attributing bad behavior, attitudes and disrupting actions to masculinity and male behavior. They let their son's date anyone, but treat daughters with kid gloves. I think each are just as special and just as wonderful to deserve the unique protections that parents can offer. In as much as I encourage my daughter to be feminine and pretty, I also look forward to teaching her how to hunt and love sports like I do.

I want my son to learn how to keep a home, just as his sister will, to me it is just good knowledge not a feminine or masculine task. I want both my kids to learn as much as they can, because it will help them out in life.

I do acknowledge how hard it is in a marriage when the woman is more masculine than the other, because I struggle with that daily. I want to lead so much it hurts, I am only now learning how to guide and let my husband lead. we both had taken on the opposite roles in our marriage, and I believe we both have to work on getting it in balance, but for me I really hate to term some things as masculine vs feminine, because kids are like sponges.

So many out there think they have to be gay because they like things that are commonly referred to as feminine or masculine. On man went so far as to say: "I know I was different and later found out I was gay, because early on I liked to play with dolls, and when my father yelled at me to be more masculine, I just felt more alienated."

I don't know.... I guess I just have a problem labeling things that may cause my kids to fail at something or see themselves as one thing or another because of an inclination or talent they have.

I want to encourage my kids to do what God wants them to, I don't want to be a parent that forces them to bend in a direction not made for them.

I am reminded of a drama I saw once, a little girl was painting and with her left hand, but her parents forced her into ballet and made her wright with her right hand, but the moral was God knew us before we were born, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. God made her an excellent painter, her parents made her a mediocre dancer, God made her left handed, her parents made her right handed. So much was lost because God's design wasn't seen and the child misdirected.

To me I guess the question that needs to be asked is what is truly feminine and what is truly masculine according to the Bible?

sealjoy said...

OOhhhh sorry just read my last line and I for got the last line in my cutting and pasting. just had to add to the last line:

To me I guess the question that needs to be asked is what is truly feminine and what is truly masculine according to the Bible?

Is it really the tasks we set for our children to learn or the manner in which they are accomplished.