Bringing up Esther in a Lady Gaga World?
Are you a parent with little girls?
You need to understand this warning…..
They were young.
Maybe six and eight years old.
Sisters. Beautiful, with long wavy hair. Each wore an itsy-bitsy-tiny-weeny-bikini (minus the polka dots).
I noticed them because the oldest girl was about the same age as my oldest daughter.
Their family was sitting near my family, poolside, on the deck of the cruise ship we had just launched from the port. The music was blaring and the entertainment crew was trying to get guests pumped up and excited about the seven day journey they were embarking on. Congo lines exploded around us. A man was walking around making intricate balloon animals. And a laser show was beaming from the top observation deck.
My own kids were sitting on lounge chairs next to me, watching the festivities with awe and wonder. A popular pop song came on and I happen to look up at the two sisters. In a burst of excitement, the sisters ran to the front of the deck area and began bumping and grinding each other to the beat of the song playing overhead. I saw their mother rush to the front, and I remember thinking, “Go get ‘em, mama!”
But instead of pulling her daughters away from the spotlight and chastising them for the way they were dancing, she picked up each of her daughters, put them on a chair, and started cheering them on. A small crowd soon gathered and right there in the middle of the cruise deck, these precious little girls put on a strip tease show, minus the actual stripping.
I glanced at my own daughter, now splashing around in the shallow end of the pool with her two brothers, young and carefree, and my heart cried. For her and all the other beautiful young ladies in our community and around our world.
Because it seems that no matter the nation, society, or culture, our daughters are being manipulated into believing a lie. This seeping lie from the enemy is meant to strip them of their worth, dignity, and self-confidence. And ultimately it is meant to devalue them to the point that they themselves no longer see themselves as worthy of love. Real love.
The enemy may be perpetuating the lie, but we- society, neighbors, parents, churches, and communities-are letting him. We have let the innocence of our daughters be stripped away like pieces of clothing.
And it’s only getting worse.
We live in a Lady Gaga World.
Our daughters have been forced to grow up way before their time. We’ve let their childhood – a precious time of growth and discovery and innocence – be stolen from them. From makeup marketed to preteens and revealing clothing designed for teens, to the sexualization of girls in songs, television, and movies, the obsessive message of sex has been paraded into our culture until it now seems almost normal. We’ve let society and the entertainment industry define their worth. And their worth grows as their skirts get shorter and their blouses get more see through and lower cut.
I recently saw a video circulating Facebook that showed a group of young girls competing in a dance competition. The dance and the young girls’ costumes were closer to something you’d see on a late night show or a professional sporting event than at a junior dance competition. These young girls were wearing skimpy costumes, while gyrating and shaking to “Single Ladies” in a way that would make most adult women blush. I watched, horrified, as the audience applauded and cheered them on. These were little girls! And yet, if you took away their little girl bodies and replaced them with an adult woman’s body you wouldn’t have been able to notice the change.
The world we live in will not protect the innocence of little girls…..WE HAVE TO.
When our daughters are young, we protect them any way we can. We exalt the innocence of their youth. Parents purchase princess dresses and let them pretend to their hearts content. We buy them dolls that celebrate the unique qualities girls have. We design Lego collections that inspire them to be artists, writers, dancers, and builders. We tell our daughters how beautiful they are, how special they are and that they can do anything they set their heart and mind to do.
We try to protect them but the world has so much influence and it bombards them with sex, the power sex seems to have over others, and the message that sex can get you what you want and where you want to go socially.
The world shows them what is “normal”, what is “cool”. MTV, prime time television, and even so called family channels show that sexuality is the new standard. Singers like Lady Gaga, Niki Minaj, Beyonce and many others show off their “wardrobe malfunctions”, seductive dance moves, and very skimpy outfits as if it’s normal, everyday behavior. Male entertainers feature barely dressed girls twerking, grinding, and gyrating on stage during their performances. To be a female in a music video is to be objectified to nothing more than a show piece, something to be possessed, or a conquest to be taken.
Grocery store checkout lines are stocked with magazines screaming “Look at me!”. These magazines are full of propaganda articles on dating, popularity and even sexual education. Yes. That’s right….. A recent post on Teen Vogue online featured a how to article on having anal sex. This is a TEEN magazine.
We let them watch shows that condone, and even encourage teen sex, and push the message that sex isn’t about love but instead about being in control of your body because “it’s your body, your choice.” We let schools remove parents from sex education and allow a worldview of sex to be taught to our youth, a text that is void of God and His beautiful plan for love, marriage and sex.
I recently read about a study conducted by the French government concerning the over sexualization of young girls in the fashion industry. The study found that women and girls were sexualized 83% of the time in advertising, compared to 17% of the time for men.
We live in a Lady Gaga World.
Hollywood, the news, big corporations, and even the sport’s industry scream sex, Sex, SEX!
But we do nothing. And the lie has spread into every community, every background, and every family.
We have failed our daughters.
Call me “Old School”. Call me an “Old Bitty”. Call me what you want. But I will not conform. And neither should you, mama!
I have three princesses, daughters who will one day be the queens of their families. My oldest is an impressionable tween and I want so badly to hide her, all of them, from this message of deceit. Because I know the harm these lies can have on a woman mentally, physically, and spiritually. I have lived in those lies and carry the scars they bring. I want them to see who they are in Christ. I want them to find their identity not in this world, but in Christ and His strength. I want them to see themselves as beautiful, inside and out. I want them to know that they are fearfully and wonderfully made (Palms 139:14). I want them to know that they are worth more than any precious treasure the world could ever find.
But most of all, I want every little girl to see themselves through the eyes of their Creator, the one who molded them and loved them from the womb; who sees them even now and has a plan of greatness for their life. I want them to know that the God who created them, saw them as precious enough to die for…
Growing up, the story of Esther in the Bible fascinated me. Here was an average girl, a nobody, who won the favor of a king and rose to become queen. She lived in a society that devalued and dehumanized women, maybe even more than today. But I think the part of the story that we all seem to miss is that she didn’t just earn the favor of a king. She won the favor of THE KING. She was a queen even before a crown was ever laid on her head. The Creator of the Universe saw HER, in all her beauty and flaws, and decided that she would serve a distinct purpose in His story. She was worth more than gold and filled a role no one else would or could fill. He saw her. He loved her. And He used her to do something great.
Proverbs 31:25 says,
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”
When we discover our worth based on God’s standards and not the world’s, we can live with a peace and a security that only comes from living in Grace. Esther lived it, even within a culture that sexualized her and sought to persecute her.
And I imagine that is exactly what most other mamas want for their daughters.
If we want to bring up our daughters as Esthers, we have to treat them like they are priceless daughters of THE KING. We have to protect them, physically, mentally, and spiritually from the lies society is whispering about where their worth comes from. And we have to do it now, starting intentionally, in our own homes and communities.
So, how do we bring up Esther in a Lady Gaga world?:
Celebrate her age. Don’t let her grow up too fast. Time goes by fast enough as it is. Do not rush the age she is in. Protect her innocence. Dress her modestly and guide her in her age appropriate learning. Read character books. Monitor the content she watches and listens to. Pay attention to who her friends are. Teach her who she is in Christ. God is growing her mind, body, and spirit in this season. Keep her there.
Value Godly character over looks. As parents we should tell our daughter she is beautiful, just as she is. Especially fathers. This is soooo important. But we also need to tell her she is talented, smart, unique, beautiful, worthy, treasured, sacred…a daughter of God that was created to do great things in His name. Encourage her to be her own kind of beautiful and to celebrate the uniqueness of others. Tell her she has value. And it isn’t because of her face or body. Her God given talents and skills are valued and needed in her community. He made her to be a light in a dark, black world. Her light shines when she is values herself and others by His love and grace. Her beauty is in how she serves.
Encourage her passions through role models. Roles models are very important. Especially in young peoples’ lives. Role models can cause impressionable young people to emulate behavior, good or bad. We need to make sure the influences in our children’s lives are rock solid. Some of our family favorites are Beth Moore, Beckah Shea, Holland, Missy Franklin, and Sadie Robertson. Guide them to people that have amazing stories. Speak of their character, but also speak of their challenges and faults and how they have overcome adversity. Find the one that coincides with your daughter’s talents and interests. Feed that passion. Help her pursue it.
Introduce her to a REAL mentor. There is power in mentorship. Women who live out what they preach. Choose a woman who will show her God’s Truths about what it means to be strong and beautiful and confident. Give her a community. But then take it a step further and be her community. If you want to raise an Esther, you, mama, need to be an Esther. Celebrate your own unique gifts and talents. Show her your faith. Model for her what it means to live a life not by the patterns of this world. Be different.
Open door policy. Open lines of communication. It is so imperative. Set standards in your communication. No condemnation. A no judgment zone. Listen while she talks. Don’t talk at her. Talk to her. She may not always agree with you. You may not always agree with her. And that’s ok. But she needs to feel she is heard. Her voice matters. Even when you don’t like what she has to say. Respect is a two way street. God has given her a voice and a journey that is unique to His plan for her. And that may involve going down a road that you don’t like.
Be intentional and involved. We have to be intentional and involved in our daughter’s lives, even when they don’t want us there. Supervise what she watches and reads. Don’t be afraid to say “NO”. And stick to it. Monitor what she wears. Don’t buy her anything that would sexualize her. Quit trying to be the cool, hype mom, and instead model modesty in your own dress and attitude. Do not buy into the “sex sells” hype. It only has power over us if we let it. You have the power to control what you listen to what you see, what you wear……understand?
Bring up your boys to be Daniels. I’m talking to all my fellow mamas of boys now….Be diligent in training your sons what a real woman is. Beauty is more than skin deep. The world says beauty is in a woman’s body. Our young men need to learn that beauty is inside as well as out. We need to raise our daughters to be Esthers. But we need to groom our boys to be Daniels. Strong. Compassionate. Gentle. God-fearing. Men who are willing to stand against society’s standards; who aren’t afraid to fight the lions on what is right and what is wrong. We need to teach tour sons to treat our daughters with the respect and dignity they deserve and that God demands. If we want to raise our girls to be Esthers, full of class and grace, we need to raise our boys to be Daniels, full of integrity and character.
Fill her with her Biblical Truth. She is valuable. She is treasured. She is amazing. She is worthy of love and grace and mercy. She is sacred. She is beloved. She is His. And she has a distinct and unique purpose in this world that only she can fill. Her beauty isn’t about how she looks, but how she lives. Is she caring? Is she kind? Is she patient? Is she faithful? True beauty is lived in humility. She isn’t perfect, and never will be, but she is perfectly broken in Christ.
Remind her she needs Christ. We are raising Esthers. But we are also raising sinners, daughters that are less than perfect and more broken than they will ever want to admit. But so are we. Remind her through conversation and your own walk in brokenness that she doesn’t have to be perfect, that she will never be perfect, and that she is still loved by you and her Savior Jesus. Remind her that there is nothing she can do to redeem her broken parts; that is Christ’s burden He bore for her. Show her what it means to live perfectly broken in Christ. That it’s ok to be weak because He is always strong.
Cover her in prayer. It isn’t enough that we teach our daughters to be Esthers. We have to pray them there. Esther didn’t rise from ashes to royalty on a whim. She was prayed into that position by Mordecai. She may have been born “for a time such as this.” But prayer got her there. Our daughters need the power of prayer over their lives. They need the strength of a mom on her knees, petitioning and praying power over her. We have to remember, mamas, they are our daughters. But they are His queens.
We may not be able to change society. This isn’t a new issue. It is a lie that has been used against women since the time of Esther and before.
But we can bring change to our own homes and communities. We can save our daughters, and all the other beautiful girls in our lives, by silencing the lies.
This is our battle cry, mamas.
It’s time to take back what was lost.
It’s time to fight for their innocence.
It’s time to bring up our own Esthers for “such a time as this” in this crazy, messed up Lady Gaga world.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
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