Vivian explains why it's not outdated to teach your daughter virtues that will shape her character and never go out of style!
Ironically, the modern feminist movement doesn’t actually celebrate femininity, but rather seeks to distance women from its defining characteristics. Retailers even target young girls with male dominating product messaging like girl hero, smart girls rule, and girl power. Society is reprogramming females to lay aside their God-ordained gender and conduct themselves against their own nature. If you have a daughter, instilling these ten virtues will spare her the descent into androgyny and help her revel in her femininity.
1. Dressing Appropriately
One definition of modesty is behavior, manner, or appearance to avoid impropriety or indecency. Modesty is a trait parents are failing to teach their daughters. Just park yourself in any public venue and observe how teen girls are dressed—tight clothing hugging curves, spilling cleavage, exposed buttocks. With such a display of skin, not much is left for the imagination. Do you want some eager, testosterone-charged male to test if your daughter’s derriere is as juicy as her pants advertise? Hardly. Veto your daughter’s clothing choices that display seductive messaging.
Mothers proudly post pictures of their daughters in a micro mini skirts and skimpy dresses on Facebook, seemingly unaware that viewers are less than impressed by the slutty showcase. Stick with the fingertip test—if clothing is shorter than that, it doesn’t belong in your daughter’s closet. What does a scantily clad daughter reveal about herself? Look at me and my hot bod! Self-confidence is a positive thing, but narcissism is not.
Teach your daughters how to coordinate clothing and accessories and find a bra that fits. Some girls leave the house dressed in a hodgepodge of mismatched attire. Remember, they will one day need to dress for success when applying for a job—what impression will they convey if they arrive to an interview dressed like a slob? Train them to neaten their appearance, style their hair, dress modestly, and develop class. No need for prudish clothing that buttons to the neck and covers the ankles—your daughter can dress stylishly without looking like a prostitute. Classiness never goes out of style.
Social media provides the vehicle for tweens and teens to toot their own horns uninterrupted. The barrage of vain selfies and posts crafted to imply popularity do nothing more drive them over the cliff into complete self-absorption. Teach your daughter not to flaunt her talent—it will speak for itself. When she is recognized for her accomplishments, she should accept the honor with meekness and grace. A humble heart is grateful and appreciative of praise but does not seek to parade success through tweets or Facebook posts. While her gifts may lead to personal fulfillment, financial gain, and good repute, talents aren’t meant to be solely self-serving. Deeper satisfaction comes when those gifts are used to serve others.
When the spotlight shines on your daughter, remind her to acknowledge the people who helped her get where she is—a teacher, friend, pastor, neighbor, parent, employer—those who positively impacted her life and steered her in the right direction. Think of celebrity awards shows. Most award recipients have a long list of people to thank because others helped them get where they are.
Your daughter might be blessed with lettering in her sport, being inducted into the National Honor Society, winning an award for dance, earning a scholarship, or snagging front row tickets to a Taylor Swift concert. These are exciting opportunities you will celebrate with her, but encourage her to demonstrate humility and refrain from boasting on social media.
From the time your daughter is small, teach her to be a hard worker by assigning age appropriate chores. As she grows, show her how to clean, iron, do laundry, and cook—model how to take care of the family. In the 50s, kids were washing and drying dishes before age 5, even if that meant using a stepstool to get the job done. Now, kids check-out after mealtime, and parents make excuses for slothfulness. She needs to learn that many hands make light work and grasp the value of being a team player.
Even before she can drive herself to a job, you can teach industriousness by encouraging her volunteerism. Churches and community organizations provide many opportunities for families to join together to make a difference. She can open the door or distribute bulletins at church, visit nursing homes, do a litter pick up, or plant a seedling at the park. She can help an elderly neighbor by picking up sticks in the yard or raking leaves. Suggest she spearhead a scarf and mitten collection for the homeless. Volunteerism helps her learn the world doesn’t revolve solely around her.
The structure of school facilitates hard work and achievement. Buy her an alarm clock so she can develop the habit of getting up independently through the school week. Don’t bird dog her about homework, but expect her to complete assignments on time and to the best of her ability. Help her develop organizational skills which will allow her to get the most done in the least amount of time. Reward her academic accomplishments when she performs proficiently, but withhold perks, like screen time, until she meets her obligations. Pursuing hobbies and participating in extra-curricular clubs and sports also teach her how to apply herself to something that interests her—plus, she develops the tenacity to stick with it.
There is a growing trend among millennials to avoid employment until a much later age. Past generations eagerly counted down to sixteenth birthdays when a driver’s license could be obtained, not only for the freedom to cruise, but the opportunity to snag a job and make money. Now, millennials are more concerned with pursuing their interests, hobbies, and recreation than being responsible, productive citizens. Many of them delay acquiring a driver’s license, and they resist seeking employment until all other funding sources are depleted. They are, by far, the most entitled generation. Insist your daughter take all the driver’s education classes early so that by age 16, she is ready to obtain her license and a job. Remember, if you keep buying her everything she wants, she will have no motivation to earn it herself.
Teaching your daughter to save herself for marriage might seem outdated, but purity is a virtue that will spare her much heartbreak and exposure to disease. Today, many parents assume their daughters will engage in premarital sex, so rather than sternly caution against it, they encourage it by providing them with birth control. In fact, many parents go so far as to vaccinate their daughters with Guardasil, hoping she will sidestep HPV throughout her years of promiscuity. This is a backward approach to dealing with pre-marital sex. It’s like leaving an alcoholic alone with a stocked liqueur cabinet, but cautioning him not to drink due to the potential ramifications. Don’t set your daughter up to fail. Not only should you educate your daughter on the possibility of teen pregnancy and disease, but you should expound on the impact promiscuity has on her reputation, on her soul, and on her mind. Her wantonness will eventually lead to a lack of self-respect, and she will feel devalued. Not only that, but who wants to be remembered for being the class whore? Think back to your high school days—you still remember the loose girl in your class, don’t you?
Because parents expect their daughters to cave to temptation, they don’t provide enough boundaries and consequences. First, don’t whet her appetite by allowing her to watch sexually explicit movies, read enticing novels, or listen to music with erotic lyrics. As long as she lives under your roof, you most certainly have the authority to monitor what goes into her soul. Second, set a curfew. Start with 10 pm on weekends and only consent to a later one after she has proven herself trustworthy and responsible. Never permit a curfew past midnight. Nothing positive happens after that time. What if she’s a few minutes late? Knock her curfew back to the earliest time until further notice. Grounding her for a few weeks or taking the car keys also let her know you will not tolerate disrespect for your rules. You are only seeking to protect her, not ruin her life.
Be creative to make your house the coolest place for her and her friends to hangout. A rec area with game tables, a large screen TV, and the latest video game system appeals to teens. Bonfires in the backyard are fun, too. When she and her friends are at your house, you will worry less about what she’s doing when you’re not watching. She won’t be drinking and driving and putting herself in a compromising situation. What about the boyfriend? Don’t be shy about laying down your rules with him on how you expect him to treat your daughter. While she might be mortified by your brutal candor, you may weed out the good ones from the bad ones early on and spare her heart. A good guy will at least make an attempt to respect your rules, but a bad guy will bolt—he is looking for a hit-and-run romp and will choose the path of least resistance. Never allow your daughter to take a boyfriend to her bedroom or be in any room of the house with the door closed. She needs to be on alert that you might pop in at any moment. Some parents have gone overboard trying to be cool by inviting serious boyfriends on family vacations. Bad idea. No matter how much you like and approve of him, overnighters, even with supervision, should never happen between your daughter and her man. You are sanctioning immorality and encouraging her down the wrong path. If a boy wants to spend a vacation with your daughter, he needs to marry her first.
The virtue of purity isn’t always sexual. Purity of heart is also important. While you don’t want your daughter to be gullible and fall for someone’s wicked devices, you should teach her to look for the best in others. Parents who are quick to voice judgment and speak negatively of others send the wrong message about people. Teach your daughter to guard her heart and watch whom she trusts, but help her to focus on the good in everyone she meets.
5. Celebrate God-Given Gender Roles
Our culture is under the delusion that gender roles can be chosen or changed at will. This is not only ridiculous and unscientific, but it is mentally ill. Since those who create Dr. Seuss-worthy pronouns referencing their gender want to feel normal and accepted, they disparage anyone who challenges them, branding them with genderphobia. Despite the assault on traditional gender roles, teach your daughter to embrace them anyway because that is normal and healthy, regardless of what the confused, sexual deviants in society are inventing.
Feminists are nothing more than man-bashers who resent they were born without male equipment. They are horrified if men open doors for them, pay for dinner, or compliment their appearance. Their influence is seen in an increasing number of sitcoms where women are empowered by emasculating men. Feminists hate to be treated like ladies and seek the dominant role. They prefer effeminate men who will let them be in charge. This is not the original design for relationships. Eve was taken out of Adam’s side, not the other way around, and she was created to be his helpmeet. This does not mean women are inferior to men. It means men and women are each hot-wired with different individualized traits to complement one another within the confines of a relationship. Teach your daughter to appreciate and celebrate gender differences. She should conduct herself like a lady and let a man be a man. A man who takes the lead will chase after her, call her, pick her up and pay for their dates, be kind, value her thoughts and opinions, and treat her respectfully. She should not be the one calling him, meeting him at their destination, paying her share, or throwing herself at him with abandonment. Never should she usurp a man’s role, but rather delight in all the facets of her own.
No matter how beautiful your daughter is on the outside, what’s on the inside is far more important. Beauty fades, but good character is always attractive.
She should be trustworthy. She doesn’t blab about your private family business because she knows to be discrete. Friends and co-workers feel confident to seek her advice because they know she can be trusted with the matters that weigh on their hearts. When you give her the keys to your car or ask her to pick up her brother at soccer practice, you can be confident she will follow through because she is trustworthy.
Being responsible is similar in nature. Does your daughter independently take care of her obligations, or must you hound her? At home, she should tackle chores without being reminded, and if she’s left home alone, you should be confident she won’t burn down the house or plan a wild party. She should stay on top of her homework assignments and complete them to the best of her ability. If she works a job, she should be punctual, reliable, and give 100% when she is on the clock. She takes her commitments seriously and doesn’t try to pin them on others because she is responsible.
Integrity is becoming obsolete in our culture, yet it’s an invaluable trait that must be instilled in our prodigy. Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. The framework for morality in our society is disintegrating because the line between right and wrong is being erased. Increasingly, people want to live in whatever way seems right to them without measuring their actions against a standard of truth. Loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself is the best place to start—integrity grows from those two basic precepts.
Integrity could also be defined as keeping your word and doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. If you’ve ever posted items for sale on Craig’s List, you know that roughly 75% of the people who make arrangements to pick up items fail to show. Teach your daughter to keep her word. When she RSVPs for a party, baby shower, or wedding, she must follow through and attend. If a sale’s clerk neglects to charge her for an item or gives her too much change, she brings it to his attention. When she shops and decides against an item in her cart, she knows to put it back where she found it and not leave it laying in some arbitrary aisle. In her career, she won’t trample co-workers or stab them in the back to climb the corporate ladder. Integrity involves knowing the right thing to do and doing it.
Be true to yourself is an overused sentiment in our modern vernacular. While being authentic and real are qualities that make us relatable and human, being true to oneself has catapulted many into narcissism. Where is the loyalty and faithfulness in such an outlook? When your daughter marries and the butterflies in her stomach disappear, should she be true to herself and find a new husband? When she becomes a mother and is stressed by the commitment and self-sacrifice parenthood entails, should she ship her kids to boarding school so she can focus on herself? When you, her parents, are aged and need her help, should she throw you in a nursing home because you have served your purpose and are now a bother? Teach your daughter that a valuable component of all relationships is loyalty and faithfulness—doggedly sticking with people through thick and thin.
Is your daughter generous or self-serving? We associate generosity with monetary giving, and while that is one aspect of it, generosity encompasses much more. Teach your daughter to be generous with her time. Encourage her to volunteer in organizations that help the community. Serving meals to the homeless, visiting a shut-in, and making homemade gifts and cards for family members invests in others. She can help a schoolmate study for a test or explain a tricky math problem. Teach her to be generous with her talents. If she plays a musical instrument or has a singing gift, let her share them on the church worship team. If she is crafty, suggest she sell her creations at a local benefit. When it comes to finances, teach her to save some, spend some, and give some.
Teach your daughter to be honest. Is she quick to admit wrong-doing, or does she try to cover it up with a lie? Can family and friends rely on her to be straight with them, or does she tell people what they want to hear? An honest person isn’t just someone who refrains from lying. Honesty includes being fair in her dealings with others. Every Christmas, collectors gamble on the toys they project to be the season’s hottest sellers. They buy up inventory at the regular price and then exponentially increase the price to resell them on Amazon. Deliberately hijacking the finances of others isn’t good business—it’s dishonest, and open marketplaces are engaging controls to discourage this practice. Being honest also means your daughter is authentic and doesn’t try to appear to be someone she’s not to impress others or garner attention.
Wisdom is a highly valued virtue that will serve your daughter well. Help her to develop it. Wisdom guards her from trusting others blindly until her trust is earned. Wisdom averts her from meeting a stranger from the Internet in a remote location. Wisdom weighs the consequences for her actions and cultivates good judgment. Wisdom thwarts her from blowing her money and having nothing to show for her hard work. Wisdom helps her know when to speak up and when to be silent. In every and all situations, wisdom lights the path and helps her make right choices.
Most parents know the basics of teaching kids to say please and thank-you, but the social graces end there. When addressing adults, your daughter should refer to them as Mr., Sir, Mrs., Miss, or Ma’am. Manners are about showing respect to others and honoring them with our words and behavior. Good manners means showing preference to others. In our selfish, entitlement culture, putting others before ourselves is a lost art. Train your daughter to open doors for her elders, let someone else be first in line, and insist her friends decide what to play first at a play date. When you have company in your home, teach her to serve guests before the hosts and to eat with grace—no shoveling food into her pie hole, chewing with her mouth open, dropping half her dinner on the floor, reclining in her seat, or having her elbows on the table. A girl with good manners also makes everyone feel included and valued by shining the limelight on them and asking them about themselves.
Like the popular children’s book by Julia Cook depicts, the mouths of some kids are like volcanoes. Things erupt from that oracle that should not. The most obvious form of undesirable speech is profanity. The pop singer, Madonna, is the perfect example of personified vulgarity. Whether she’s using the “F” word repeatedly or threatening to blow up the White House, her speech demonstrates that empty and obnoxious words reveal the shallowness of one’s own soul. Teach your daughter to weigh her thoughts before she speaks. Her words should be truthful, but they also should edify and inspire, not destroy. Teach your daughter to refrain from telling dirty jokes or posting lewd comments on social media. Her speech should be clean and respectful while showcasing her poise and intelligence. Do you want your daughter to be a lady? Remind her of the THINK acronym before she speaks—is what she wants to say true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, or kind?
It’s human nature to seek vindication when we’ve been wronged, but teach your daughter to be merciful instead of vengeful. It will spare her heart from bitterness. Teach her not to stoop to the level of others but to be quick to forgive. This grows patience. Instead of reminding offenders of past wrongs, teach her that love covers a multitude of sins. Love and mercy aren’t blind to mistakes, they just overlook them by focusing on what is right with a person instead of their shortcomings. Mercy and love say, I see what you did, but I love you anyway, and I’m not going to keep bringing this up to make you feel bad about it. A merciful daughter will see the best in others and be able to bite her tongue when she wants to use words to punish. A merciful daughter taps into compassion by seeing through the eyes of her heart to understand why people act the way they do. Maybe dad snapped because he was stressed from work, or the elderly person at the store was rude because he didn’t feel good. Mercy doesn’t respond in anger.
When you see prom pictures on Facebook or sit on a bench at the mall, it is astonishing how many fat young girls there are today! Unless your daughter has a medical problem or is genetically predisposed to obesity, there is no reason for her to be a tub of lard. Teach your daughter proper nutrition so she can make healthy meal and snack choices, something she will carry with her into adulthood when she’s fixing meals for her own family. This might require a change in your own habits. Do you frequently feed your family fast food or meals from a can or box? Time to stop! Don’t pressure her to look like Barbie though because being too skinny is equally undesirable.
See that your daughter gets plenty of exercise and have no tolerance for laziness. Some kids prefer sedentary activities like reading, gaming, crafting, or playing an instrument and need an extra push to be more active. Enroll your daughter in a sport at school or your area rec center. Let her sample soccer, basketball, volleyball, and swimming to see which one she likes the best. If she’s not sporty, maybe she would enjoy dance. Buy her a bike and take your entire family to hit the trails. Visit a metro park for a hike. Take a walk through your neighborhood or invest in fitness equipment for your spare room. Make exercise a habit for your daughter, and her lifestyle will be less likely to include diabetes and heart disease.
Obviously, you must be proactive in teaching your daughter to avoid the temptation of drugs and alcohol that are too readily available in schools. Just as drugs harm the body, so does sexual promiscuity. Instead of teaching her to have safe sex, teach her to have no sex outside the bounds of marriage. Not only is it immoral, but it can have serious physical repercussions that are irreversible.
See that your daughter gets enough sleep, and make sure she limits screen time. The American Pediatric Association cautions parents to keep screen time at two hours or less each day, yet teens are consuming nine hours of media daily! Optometrists caution that too much screen time not only causes near-sightedness, eye strain, and headaches, but the next generation is more likely to experience macular degeneration at much younger ages.
To remain emotionally healthy, teach your daughter to identify and avoid toxic relationships. What constitutes a toxic relationship? Someone in her life who is controlling, belittling, negative, dishonest, jealous, self-centered—these are just a few of the red flags. She should surround herself with people who build her up and bring out the best in her. Teach her to a person of peace whose joy is not dependent on circumstances because circumstances are always changing.
Proverbs 31 Woman
If you’ve never read the biblical passage in Proverbs 31:10-31 about the attributes of a virtuous wife, consider taking a peek at it. You will find a virtuous woman is trustworthy, hard-working, strong, wise, generous, kind, respectful, highly regarded, and more. Her husband and children call her blessed. It might seem counter-culture to raise your daughter clean in this dirty world, but you have an obligation to train her to be virtuous. Then, you will articulate the same sentiment from Proverbs 31:29—many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.
Add Your Two Cents
Vivian Coblentz (author) on April 23, 2018:
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 22, 2018:
I'm on board with every one of of these virtues as essential to the training of our young women. Thanks for addressing these issues. Well done!