I come from a family of thinkers. If we made a t-shirt with the family motto, some of the nominations would include:
1. The Wingfields: If there’s a way to do it, there’s a way to do it better.
2. The Wingfields: If there’s a way to do it, there’s a way to do it cheaper.
3. A guy could… // What if we were to… // Have you ever thought about…
(Not related to this topic, but other proposals:
1. “Who wants to play some cards?”
2. “Please resend the link to the Google docs spreadsheet for lake food.” )
So we think a lot. My friend Abbie just moved to the other side of the world and as I helped her pack she encountered the Wingfield Ability to Overthink. First was the suitcases: which is better, a suitcase over pound limit or an extra suitcase? (Over pound limit is more economical if you keep it to the first level of 75 pounds. If you go over, then it’s cheaper for a third suitcase based on a per-pound metric). Then there came the packing strategy and the morning schedule of retrieving U-Hauls and selling her Jeep. I spent more time with her talking about strategy for packing than actually packing anything.
I cannot make this stuff up.
It follows, then, that conversation would arise while at the lake and someone would start with, “So, I was reading…. and I’m thinking….”. It’s my second favorite conversation, next to straight up gossip.
So as Cousin B suggested a new book, we began talking about fathers and daughters and how we wish to raise our kids (if you don’t have cousins, or at least friends, with whom you can talk about these fascinating topics, you need to come visit us at the lake). B wasn’t sure where I would lie in opinion about the book because it essentially said a father’s impact is more powerful to young girls than her mother’s. I’m in total agreement – not just because it lets me off the hook, but because I’ve seen it. Strong mothers raise nice girls. Strong fathers raise confident women.
Not to say that single mothers (and those with dads at limited involvement) aren’t going to raise intelligent, capable, wonderful young women. These statements aren’t prescriptive, they’re descriptive (my new favorite caveat!). Like Proverbs, you can and will find exceptions, but these are general patterns in life. (Paul, would you blog a nice description of the Proverbs and how they fit when compared against “Biblical truths”? You described it well mid-sermon once).
Back to the book being discussed. Cousin B stumbled across a few truths that the book brought to light and really found it to be helpful. He experienced it in life – he was able to tell a beautiful woman from her voice over the phone, and when answering for Papa John’s he’d tell the driver to expect a gorgeous female to be waiting at the door. The driver would return in awe because he was right. Beauty, then, becomes not just something you see, but a part of who you are, how you speak, the words, tone and expressions you use. So B wants to raise his daughter to be that kind of beautiful.
After my last blog on how young girls view themselves, I had a long car ride to continue to toss around ideas. I wondered if my thoughts put too much pressure on the ladies. We tend to be a catty bunch, so I feel any camaraderie and teamwork we muster becomes a huge win. I know that what I say about myself shapes the way my daughters look into a mirror.
But, like Cousin B mentioned, the menfolk need to study up. Girls respond to the attention given to them (either positively or negatively), and I believe that boys of all ages can help contribute to a healthy self-assessment by how they treat and talk about girls. Another story.
A wonderful teenage boy (now man) in my group of students once lamented to me about the scandalous nature of girls’ clothing. His pure heart wanted girls around him to dress in a way that didn’t require him to keep his thoughts in check. “Why can’t they just wear longer shorts? Why show so much cleavage?” Fair question. In an effort to be more like Jesus, I responded with a question. “Why do you think they do it?”
“Because they want attention.”
“Do you think they do it because it works?”
“Do you think that if you gave the girls in your life positive attention that encouraged them and made them know they are loved and beautiful without wearing clothes that reveal a lot of flesh that perhaps they’d wear something different?”
Well, no one really wants to personally take responsibility for a social trend, but I believe young boys can be part of the solution.
Just this past weekend, H Boy told his cousin V that she was “so pretty.” While JJ thought it was a bit strange, I scored it under the victory column. I hope my young man grows up not believing that beauty is always sexual and that his sisters and cousins and friends can be “so pretty.” Because they are. And if he doesn’t tell them, who will? Men (and even women) who want something. Tina Fey says it better: May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that catches the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
Why not start her experience and fill up the confidence account with those words from people who want nothing in return? How about hearing it from men who she admires, the ones who, when he speaks, she turns her ear to listen?
I’m hoping that H boy turns into one of those men.
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