I am proud of the fact that my daughter and I are still very close. She is beautiful, delightful, wise, and faithful. She is also incredibly interesting with many hidden depths, full of surprises. That is the way of women. Remember that Solomon, the wisest mere man that ever lived, said that he couldn't figure out women... and he, like a good scientist, had run nearly a thousand experiments in understanding women by the time he said that!
Women are more complicated than men, physically and mentally. Men's sexual anatomy is simplicity itself but women's is so intricate it's hard to know where it begins and ends. Their minds are built for multi-tasking. For you computer geeks out there, think of it this way: women are Windows, men are DOS. Men are designed to pursue one thing at a time, but women are experts at knowing what is going on in a wide variety of arenas all at the same time.
To raise these incredible gifts from God, moms and dads need to emphasize certain traits in the same way as we emphasized the three traits for our boys to become men. Here are our target traits:
WISDOM: our girls must be encouraged to use the wisdom God wired into them. It is not an accident that wisdom is personified as female in the book of Proverbs! Praise them when they think things out. Show them they have gifts in academia, yes, but also in common sense, in interpersonal relationships, etc. The world is attacking this aspect of women, trying to convince them that they are merely consumers or sexual objects and nothing more. Every measuring indicator the world offers them involves sex or possessions. A Christian response to this is to praise our daughters for their intelligence.
PURITY: We must also counter our world when it tries to make women like men sexually. Men have always been more than willing to have sex with anything or anyone who is available, but women understood the costs of sexual activity and so regulated it to ensure that someone would be there to help them, protect them, and provide for them and their children. The world is trying to strip this away from our girls and make them like the disposable women on MTV and BET, not to leave out prime time TV like Desperate Housewives, etc. When girls are taught to honor their bodies and their futures, to value purity and to offer that purity as a gift to the world -- wow! What does it mean "to offer that purity as a gift"? It means that women's far reaching wisdom and their innate understanding of the value of their sexual being can control others when they forget God's law and get out of control. It is women who can disapprove of something their child or husband plans to do and, so, change it. We want their approval. We need their reminders that some things are not pure, not safe, and not for us. They can remind us to be pure.
SHEPHERDING: Women are far more aware of the feelings of others than are men. Our daughters can be trained to regard their natural abilities in this regard to be a blessing to the planet. It is the women who know where the children are, who notice who was left out of an event, who see the person sitting alone, and who remember to send sympathy or thank you cards. My wife -- God bless her -- is a very busy woman with a successful interior design business. She often has to travel to Lansing to speak with legislators about new laws and protections... and yet she will turn to me and ask me what kind of dinners we would like to have this week. I never give it any thought, but she is already concerned about and in action concerning what we should eat this week, day by day, and who wants what. That is a gift that women can bring to the equation and most men can't. We need to encourage our daughters to use that gift of concern, love, and care for everyone around them. They are natural shepherds, leaders, and teachers.
JOY: Men can get silly far faster than most women, but girls have joy built into them, too. When our daughters are taught the love of playing for its own sake, for laughing and dancing, and for rejoicing in silliness, they can infect the whole room with joy. You've seen the T-shirts than say, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" The reason is, we all want the approval of women. We want to see their joy and smile. I am never happier than when I see my daughter -- 23 years old and married -- collapsing in a pile of giggles, pulling off a great one-liner, or dancing around her apartment in her pyjamas. Women are the bringers of light, the windows of heaven. Let them play. Let them wear silly sparkly things or play with their hair.
There is more, but this is the basic framework we used with our daughter and which we have taught at over 200 churches in the last twenty years. It is very, very cool to get letters and emails from people who took our advice and who thank God for the relationship they now have with their daughters. It is even more gratifying to see these young women grow up and take their place in the Kingdom, bringing their wisdom, purity, shepherding, and joy to the whole church. What wonderful beings are women! Thank God for His kindness and wisdom in providing them.