Growing Strong Daughters written by Lisa Graham McMinn is the book I'm currently working through.
I'm thrilled about this book and the way McMinn, mother of three girls and university professor helps guide us to discover what women were created to be and how we should raise our girls (or change our perspective) in accord with this.
Gender roles have often been rather confusing for me, and often based on much assumption from role models and expectations of various Christian communities I've been a part of. In attempt to sort all of this out, and craft a coherent point of view, I've honestly read so many books on "biblical femininity" that I've completely lost track. (I've probably encouraged many of you to read some of the same ones...)
Now as a mother, defining my beliefs seems more urgent. I have one little princess, as you all know... and three little guys. It's crucial for me to have a solid understanding of Abigail's strength and potential as much as it is to pass a confident masculinity on to my boys. (What I mean by that is that I want my boys as men to need, respect and learn from women and see the value of "female ways of knowing, being and doing" (McMinn's words) without feeling threatened, attacking or ridiculing.) I don't want to raise my kids in certain stereotypes simply by default or negative exposure. I want my expectations of them to be clearly defined by a Christian worldview like the rest of my life. The problem is that femininity isn't as clear cut biblically as some other worldview issues in life. As Christian women, we hear competing voices between our secular culture and the evangelical church culture. We are often trapped on one hand between a culture that accepts women as equals but denies their female uniqueness, and churches who often amplify our femininity while also viewing it as a liability or a threat.
I need to be quite clear in saying that I don't feel our specific church to be this way, but I do see it as a trend in the Christian subculture and have experienced much of it in my life. The sad part is that in this environment, I have subtly felt that I don't have as much to offer to God's Kingdom as a female. I would sit quietly, allow the men to lead, and just sort of accept a shallow understanding of my role. "Be gentle and quiet, trust, submit" and the like weren't that challenging to my personality style and in fact those very misunderstood commands often enabled me to disengage from the very community that God called me to serve and love in truth. It was easy for others to compliment my "biblical femininity" when in reality, I was just being complacent and quiet~ or worse. But the real conflict was suffered by my friends who were strong, competent, and vocal women or friends whose plan to "happily be the submissive wife" had to instead find their way in the professional world. I have seen how both of these types of women (and countless others) were shocked by how out of place they have felt in the Christian world and how ill equipped they have been to live the reality of their lives.
Thankfully, through my marriage, God has changed me and my views. Brian has always treated me the opposite of the culture we lived in and I think through my marriage to him, his value of me and need for my input has made me realize that this was the balance God intended in making man and women as image bearers together. He made me see myself as not only valuable, but indispensable. Thankfully, a harmony (sometimes) exists in our marriage because of the way his male and my female work together, but often the same isn't true in the church. There is a strength and a wisdom and an intuition and an emotion and a voice missing at the tables of church leadership. At times, our voice quietly exists with each other or in the rare church that realizes the fullness of the community in front of them. This saddens me that it is so rare and so overlooked.
Anyway, I know there is much confusion, arguments and even hatred (in Christian communities) over this issue of women's roles. I don't know what all the answers are, but I think Lisa McMinn has insight and wisdom that will help. I believe her book will bring necessary understanding not just for parents raising daughters, but for all women and men alike who are trying to sort out our biblical identity in today's culture. Her overview of the book is as follows:
chapters 1-2 explain how daughters are made in the image of God.
chapters 3-7 consider various aspects of being and becoming strong through the development of confidence, independence, and voice.
chapters 8-10 examine our relationships with our daughters and their relationships with boys. (page 15)
I've had this book for years now and haven't gotten around to reading it, but now is the time for me. Want to join in?
Please let me know if you will read it too maybe we'll have an online book club. ;) If enough of you are interested, I could even set up a quick book club blog~ even if it's just for this one~ where anyone could post if they are reading. It's just a thought. Let me know people!