A Different Kind of Daughter

Raising Women in an Age of Feminism

As I write this, my youngest daughter is turning thirty-seven. It seems my daughters’ birthdays, more than my own, have a way of making me feel my age: how is it possible that the youngest of my three girls is now in her late thirties?

But these fleeting thoughts on aging give way to reflections on the past, and how much simpler it felt to raise daughters three decades ago. (Funny thing is, I remember my mom saying the same thing to me when my girls were little.) I sought to raise my daughters to withstand the tidal wave of feminism that threatened their femininity. My daughters are, to this day, skilled and dedicated mothers. But the world seems a scarier place than it was then, and mothering a more daunting task. How will my granddaughters, so happy and carefree in their girlhood, resist the lies and insults the world is sure to hurl at them?

“We can’t assume that a Christian home or a good church will inoculate our daughters against toxic feminist messages.”

With all the cultural confusion over gender-related issues, we may be tempted to panic and throw out the biblical playbook. But we must not flinch as we follow the gospel plan for raising our daughters. Neither can we be apathetic, assuming that a Christian home or a good church will inoculate our daughters against toxic feminist messages. We need to be alert and shrewd — preparing our daughters to discern and reject the false teaching about womanhood from our culture (1 Peter 5:8, Matthew 10:16). We should stick close to Scripture as we walk the same path of faithfulness as godly mothers before us.

Training Daughters to Be Women

Faithful mothering, now as always, requires faithful sowing. When we plant a garden, we don’t throw seeds haphazardly into the ground and expect neat rows of our favorite vegetables. Instead, we select our seeds and plant straight rows in order to reap a good harvest. In the same way, we must be intentional to sow seeds of biblical womanhood into our daughters’ lives.

Put simply, biblical womanhood is God’s delightful design for women as revealed in the Bible. In fact, when Paul tells Titus how to build a church that lights up a dark and evil age with the gospel, he tells him to make sure the older women pass along the heart and habits of godly womanhood to the younger women (Titus 2:3–5).

As Christian mothers, we must not neglect to include the fundamentals of biblical womanhood in our daughters’ education. Consider: Am I preparing my daughter to be the kind of woman who is strong enough to submit to her husband? Determined enough to complete the difficult task of raising children? Creative enough to build a home that is both a greenhouse and a lighthouse, cultivating the gospel message and beaming it out into a dark world? Intelligent enough to see how studying history, hermeneutics, and horticulture can be put to use in her gospel mission?

A Different Kind of Woman

“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman,” Elisabeth Elliot once wrote. If we want to raise our daughters to be different kind of women — nonconformists in a world run amok, insurgents for the gospel — we must be sure to give them strategic and specialized training. We must teach them both the beauty and the basics of biblical womanhood through our faithful (though flawed) example and our gracious teaching.

“Because of the steadfast love of Christ, the mother who sows with tears will reap with joy.”

We must also pluck the weeds of feminism that our culture sows and which can take root in our daughters’ hearts. When my girls were still in their early teen years, I noticed that, despite my best efforts to cultivate the heart and habits of biblical womanhood, certain feminist ideas had slipped into their thinking. I decided to take them through Elisabeth Elliot’s Let Me Be a Woman, which helped demystify feminist propaganda and proved to be a defining season of learning to delight in God’s design for women.

Faithful and Faith-filled

Most importantly, faithful mothering requires faith. We put the seeds in the ground, but at first, we don’t see how or even if they are growing. We simply watch, water, and repeat. The seeds won’t sprout if we don’t plant. They won’t survive if we don’t pull the weeds. They won’t thrive if we don’t water. But ultimately, we have to trust God to bring the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). He promises that we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).

How do we keep from giving up? We remind ourselves that no matter how our culture heaves and shifts, Scripture’s truth, relevance, and power will remain. God is still in charge. From age to age he sits enthroned. He rules over seasons, stars, and tidal waves of feminism (Psalm 29:10). He is the God who daily bears us up through every evil day (Psalm 68:19). Because of the steadfast love of Christ, the mother who sows with tears will reap with joy (Psalm 126:5).