Three things to keep telling your teenage daughter
In a culture of slamming doors, broken homes, social media rants, self-harm and so much more, how can you shape the teen girls in your life for the betterment of God’s Kingdom? Where do you start? What do you say? Will they listen?
After almost 10 years in girls’ ministry, five years in women’s ministry, and almost 23 years’ experience as a girl on this earth, I desire to share with you three things that were spoken into me as a teen girl. These three things shaped my life.
You’re beautiful because God says you’re beautiful. “You’re covered with the fingerprints of God,” were the words blaring from my mom’s big blue Suburban as we trucked to church. My mom’s voice rivaled Steven Curtis Chapman on full volume. It seemed every stop sign we pulled up to was merely an opportunity for my mom to face me, pat my leg and emphasize the chorus. Depending on the day, I would either respond with dancing and singing along or rolling my eyes and turning back to whatever I was doing before her mini concert.
Believe it or not, all four minutes and three seconds of that song left a deep impression on my heart. What made the words more impactful is that someone who knew me so thoroughly and deeply like my mama was singing them to me. My fragile teen heart was nourished at the sound of the lyrics, “You’re a wonder in the making, and God’s not through.” Those words nourish this fragile young adult heart as well.
Tell your teen daughter today that she’s beautiful because God said she is beautiful (Psalm 139:14). Not only is this a simple truth, but it tills the ground for deeper theology later in life. At age 16, I didn’t have ears to hear how ugly my sin made me, or that I was only a contributor to the evilness in humanity (Mark 7:21-23). That message would come later and at just the right time when I already had a firm confidence in God’s view of me. Don’t hear me wrong – always talk about sin and redemption and Christ’s sacrifice. But you must know your audience.
To the 15-year-old girl who was told by a mean-spirited girl how ugly she is; to the 13-year-old girl who sees sex symbol after sex symbol on TV and social media; and to the 18-year-old girl prepping for college life, they all need to be told they are beautiful because of God.
The last part of that phrase is crucial. You must not leave it off. Any parent can tell their daughter they’re beautiful. The girl may even hear it from boyfriends, classmates and social media. It takes a truly godly parent to say she is beautiful because God says she is beautiful. This truth she will not depart from (Prov. 22:6).
You’re meant to pursue the knowledge of God’s Word. From Sunday school sword drills to Kay Arthur’s in-depth studies for children, I was learning, and later starving for, God’s pure and Holy Word. My parents always drove me back to Scripture.
When I was mad, my mom would say, “What does the Bible say about that?” (Eph. 4:26). When I was discouraged my dad would say, “What does the Bible say about that?” (Psalm 43:5). You may think it is counted as forcing the Bible on someone, but beyond my eye rolls and pouting and angrily swooshing through my little Bible’s pages, I found hope.
My parents knew they may not have the answers. They knew they had no idea what was going on in my changing and curious little mind. But I praise God that they knew Who to turn me to for answers.
Again, don’t miss what you are doing here as parents. You’re tilling the ground for deeper theology yet again. Your 14-year-old may not get so hungry for God’s Word that she puts that phone down for an hour-long reading session, but she just might when she’s alone at college. Your 17-year-old may get so sick of you quoting Scripture to her that she can’t help but commit them to memory and recall them when she needs those verses most.
Is she feeling sad? Look at scripture. Is she feeling excited? Look at scripture. Is she feeling anxious, scared, lonely, hopeful, thankful, or joyful? Look at scripture.
Our purpose as believers is to glorify God (Isa. 43:1-7). We glorify God by knowing His Word (Psalm 119:9-16). By knowing His Word, we are equipped to serve and know Him personally (Psalm 119:105). The best gift you can give your daughter is not a smart phone, a later curfew, a newer purse, a trip to New York or anything of this world. The best gift you can give your daughter is a sold out, dependent hunger for Holy Scripture for her to take into a malnourished world.
You are meant to sacrifice. I heard someone tell their daughter once that she was like a star. Unique, special and flawless. My parents never told me that, and here’s why I’m grateful they never did. My parents never said it in word, but in how they lived their lives, they told me I was the moon. I was not meant to emit my own light, enjoy my own glory and revel in my own beauty like a star. But I am meant to reflect the sun just as the moon does.
I was to reflect God’s light, God’s glory and God’s beauty. Tell your daughter she’s beautiful because of God (like my first point states), but leaving it at that only creates a world full of Kim Kardashians and drama queens eager to steal the spotlight to build up their paper-thin identities. You must go further.
My parents lived out their faith in front of me. My dad exhibited Acts 2:45 through sacrificing money, time and worldly possessions that others might see Christ in him and glorify the Lord God. My mom was a walking and talking example of Psalm 119:11, with Scripture pouring from her lips that the world may be encouraged and drawn to her Savior. My parents understood that once they accepted the Lord, their lives were no longer their own (2 Cor. 5:15).
Their sacrificial living and teaching not only taught me how to be a godly young woman, but they also showed me that God is glorified in holy sacrifice.
Whatever age your daughter, granddaughter, sister or niece are, I promise, these three points will change their life. At least, it did mine. Be consistent, honest and prayerful as you speak these truths into the teen girl in your life.