December 23, 2011 — 248 Comments

As a father of a little girl who will have her second birthday in January, I was interested in the recent article titled “How to Talk to Little Girls.” The excellent Huffington Post piece by Lisa Bloom has created a buzz, with nearly 400,000 people “liking” the article on Facebook.

Bloom points out the dangers of highlighting a little girl’s physical beauty before or above other things. This is typified by the normal practice of strangers, or friends, who lead off a meeting with a little girl by saying something along the lines of “aren’t you the cutest thing ever?”

Kate, at the Beach this Summer

My daughter, Kate, is beautiful. I’m completely biased and entirely certain that she is adorable by any standard. When people meet her for the first time, I can affirm that they generally comment on how cute she is. Of course, I wouldn’t argue with their assessment at all, but I also see how this emphasis on her external beauty could shape her thinking over time. I would never want Kate’s joy in life or sense of self-worth to be dependent on man’s praise of her outward beauty.

We are a visually obsessed culture. I also have three boys, and I find myself flinching routinely during televised football games at the flaunting of female beauty on the sidelines and in the commercials. While I believe God created physical beauty to be enjoyed (God made female and male bodies unique for a reason), our society has obviously over-indulged the physical. This is a serious problem that most pastors and churches hesitate to address, usually because church-going folks are just as influenced by beauty-worship as non-church people.

The Bible signals a warning to us about overemphasizing physical attractiveness. Proverbs 31:30 warns, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain.” One of more blunt verses in Scripture, Proverbs 11:22 says, “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.” These warnings tell us that this is not just an issue for American women of the 21st century. There is something universal in this struggle that isn’t going away in our time.

I am thankful that Lisa Bloom sounds the alarm for us about how our words impress unhealthy values on our littlest ladies. But I also want to issue a warning of my own about Bloom’s solution to this problem.

The Mind is Not Better than the Body

Bloom’s answer to our beauty-obsession appears to swap physical beauty for intellectual capacity. She writes:

Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.

While this sounds like a helpful corrective, I think it introduces a new problem. Notice what is important to Bloom? She directs us to the life she values more: ideas and books and thoughts and accomplishments.

Here is my question: Are these really better than beauty?

Perhaps they might make one more financially secure or more independent or more academically successful. It is certainly true that the life of the mind tends to outlast youthful beauty which inevitably sags with time. So, maybe it is better to some small extent.

But it is not enough.

Beauty and Intelligence and Performance and Morality Are Not Enough

So, here is my problem with Bloom’s solution to the beauty-worship problem: the mind-worship problem isn’t any better. A little girl does not need to hear that her value is determined by her boob size, but neither does she does need to hear that her value is determined by her brain size.  Intelligence and success and independence do not meet our deepest needs.

In fact, when we seek to find our value in our performance, it may be even more dangerous. It’s easy for someone who has accomplished much to take pride in their intellect or ingenuity or toughness or determination. A person who performs well may even demean beauty as “something you are born with” as opposed to accomplishments which they have “earned.” Dependence on performance can be just as crippling as dependence on beauty.

Of course, Religious people have their own spin on the performance problem. Rather than stressing beauty or intelligence or success, they put the emphasis on morality. Girls are taught that their value or goodness depends on their ability to keep the rules. This may be the most insidious kind of performance idol. Religious types construct their performance idols on the foundation of Scripture, which makes them even harder to detect. To the religious person, this moral performance trap feels righteous.

Why Little Girls (And Boys) Need the Gospel of Jesus Above All Else

I must recognize that I cannot control all of the voices that my daughter will hear. She will always live in a world that overvalues her beauty. She will also have to deal with pressures to measure up intellectually and educationally and financially. Countless voices will praise, or criticize, her according to unhealthy standards.

I cannot control all of the voices that my daughter will hear, but I do know which one I want to be the loudest in her ears. It is not the voice of her boyfriend, or the academic advisor at her college, or the CEO of her company, or even my voice as her father. It is the voice of Jesus.

Her deepest longing is not to be loved for her beauty, praised for her intelligence, or admired for her performance. No, the deepest longing of the human heart is to be loved, and this longing is so deep that only God can fill it.

The gospel, or good news, of Jesus says to us, “You are loved as you are. Regardless of how beautiful and smart and successful you feel, you are so broken that life on your own merits will never be enough. And regardless of how ugly or dumb or unsuccessful you feel, you are so loved that Jesus gave his life so that he could be with you forever.”

Most of us spend our lives working to prove ourselves. We exhaust ourselves as we try and try to convince people that we deserve to be accepted.* There is a cost to this kind of acceptance. It takes something out of us in the process and must be continually earned. The gospel frees us from this compulsion. When we operate from a place of gospel-security that is grounded in the love of God rather than in her own ability to measure up, we are truly free. Only then can we enjoy beauty and intellect and performance in freedom rather than compulsion.

I think that is part of what the Bible means when it says, “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Rev 22:17).

If you find yourself thirsty, come as you are to Jesus who offers you acceptance and love and life at no cost to yourself. He gave his life to free you from the beauty trap and the intelligence trap and the performance trap. It cost Jesus everything, but you were worth it.

So, how should we talk to little girls?

When I talk to Kate, I will say:

“I love you. I love the way your hair rolls into ringlets and falls into your eyes. I love the way you read yourself books, even though you can’t read. I love the way you dance and twirl around the kitchen. I love the way you wave at cars that pass on our walks. I love the way you scream “Dad” in the middle of the night. I love the way you  say “do it again” when we do something fun. I even love the permanent marker custom design you put on my new Mac. But as much as I love you, Jesus loves you more. I sacrifice a lot because I love you, but Jesus sacrificed everything because he loves you. So if somewhere along the way you fail a test or love a boy who does not love you back or have a mastectomy or develop Alzheimers or gain some weight or lose a job, you will still hold infinite value because Jesus loves you. No matter what. You are loved exactly as you are. Always.”

I’d love to read your comments…
What in this post resonates with you? Do you find yourself fighting against the beauty trap or intelligence trap or performance trap? How do you talk to your little girls about these things?


* Thanks to Tim Keller for this thought, which I once jotted down and then was unable to find as I wrote this post.



    Your words to your sweet daughter are perfect and a great reminder of a lasting and meaningful message. Well spoken. Thank you for sharing!


    It’s hard to find well-informed people in this particular subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about!


    Thank you. Can’t wait to share this.


    You hit the nail on the head! We close our prayers at night with how Jesus loves us for us, and his love is the most important.


    Thank you for the reminder that the Gospel is the message our little girls (and boys) need to hear. After reading Bloom’s article, I was tempted to say “amen”! However, after reading yours, I am saying “Amen” and “Praise God”. Not only am I reminded as a mother to teach the Gospel to my daughter, but I am reminded as a woman and a daughter of the King to teach this to myself.


    I have NOT read all the comments and those I did read a skimmed or just read a few sentences. Having said that I do believe there is a lot of truth in what you say. I have a 18 year old young lady–gulp can’t believe it–and I have spent all of her life telling her the opposite of what everyone else told her. “Aren’t you pretty?” “She is so sweet”. As a parent when I seen ANY child, I tell the parents that their children are pretty, handsome, smart, kind, pick the adjective, because MY children tend to love their pride fed. People don’t mean to do this, feed pride, but it happens.

    I too want my children to know Jesus above all else and I tell regularly there is NO one on this earth that loves them more than me, their future spouse will come close but it will not be the same. Included in the above information is that there is nothing they can do that will cause me NOT to love them. I may be disappointed, I may not agree, but I will always love them. The only person who loves them more than me is Jesus. Period. Then the gospel usually follows closely behind.

    The comment about churches not having “ugly or overweight” worship leaders is false. Mine does, and it may be the minority, but they are out there.

    Thanks for the post,


    Just caught up with this article via facebook… Love it! I think if we could raise our children to have the Lord as their ONE THING, to trust in Him as their source and reward we would be raising children filled with a great joy which would overflow to others. This reminds me of all the discussions and trainings that are available for bullying, none of them ever touch on the saving, transformational power of Jesus, Himself. As we watch our culture fall more and more into the idolatry of self, we will never overcome these struggles in society. But then again, that’s the point – HE overcame!


    I love this post, and do agree that women and girls have so much pressure to be perfect in every way. I also struggled earlier in life with the feelings that my voice was not heard by Christian men or by the Church, and still feel that this is the norm in Christian culture. I struggled with this until one of my college professors opened my eyes to the women in the Bible that were there for me as role models. Priscilla and Aquila were both leaders in the church ( married couple, wife given equal reference), Proverbs 31 woman being a confident, caring wife and mother, but also making financial decisions, and an entrepreneur by nature. Phillips daughters are named prophetesses. Deborah taking on a leadership role as a judge. Eve being made from the only refined substance of any of God’s creations (Adam’s rib). Jesus revealed himself first to a woman after rising. For any woman needing confidence to speak, or needing external resources to prove credibility, these are a great place to start. Women can have strong gifts, such as evangelism, prophecy, etc., and Jesus does say if you’re given talents, use them.

    I believe the foundation of this post is such a great place to start in building that relationship of unconditional love for a daughter. In terms of leading the daughter through life choices, I hope the above will help as well.

    Lastly, I am married to a husband who gave me so much confidence because he ALWAYS respected my opinion as an equal, yet was not less of a leader than me or less of an authority in our relationship than me. There is so much joy and peace in having a balanced relationship built on listening and voice, and mutual respect, and we are business partners as well as life partners. We both have strong roles and strong personalities, yet neither of us become jealous of each other’s accomplishments or revel in glory when given praise. Our foundation is Christ and then our relationship, and we don’t have a place for pride in our life. Our goal is to work together in understanding each other and the world we live in. Any woman choosing a life partner, or any man wanting to be a life partner to a woman should truly use this as an example of a great man. My respect for him has been amplified 10 fold by the encouragement and respect he has given me.


      Thanks for the feedback. I love preaching on the great women of the Bible. So many important daughters of the One Great King.

      I’m married to a strong, entrepreneurial, creative, wise woman who is a blessing to me and to Jesus’ church. In many arenas, she is far more talented than me. Love her dearly.

      I’m a big fan of Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage. Highly recommended.


    This is a great artical for setting up a little girl with a firm foundation set in Chirst as the focalpoint and all else coming secondary. I lead a biblestudy of women and I just gave them a vissual that I think goes along with what you are saying. Picture our life as a bucket, our personality as golf balls, Gods love and mercy as water and Gods truth and justice as sand. When we have our bucket full of just golfballs of ourselves there are alot of holes left from insecurities, short comings and missteps. If we fill our bucket with just the water of Gods love and mercy we become a doormat that people can walk all over because everything is covered in love but no discernment. If we fill our bucket with only the sand of Gods justice and truth we become abrasive and irrelevant to our culture. But when we allow the Holy Spirit to take our bucket full of just our lumpy golfballs and fill in the gaps with Gods sands of truth and justice they fill in all our lacking and fill in the things in our life that are wrong and ungodly we become a solid person, confident in who we are in Christ and walking with him in all we do. And lastly we allow the waters of grace and mercy to smooth out our rough edges so we can reach out to othets and show them how knowing God gives you all the confidence and reassurence we need and more so than we could ever get from the world.


    I don’t have any children, but I am young enough that I can remember clearly growing up. Your words about falling into the trap of intelligence truly resonated with me. It was always presented as the fact that you shouldn’t waste the talents God gave you. I would argue that your message shouldn’t just be for young girls, we all need to hear it over and over again.


    Great article. I come and back and re-read this every couple of weeks to remind me. I have 2 girls (5 and 7).


    Thanks for your reply, Jeff. Honestly, I skipped over many of the comments. I must have missed the high fives, so to speak. I wouldn’t dare give a response on your relationship with your daughter. However, I do respond to arguments made–realizing that arguments are conversations that are evolving and changing the very moment we make them.

    I think our fundamentally different approach is I am talking about how to speak to (and arguably, listen to) women, where I believe you are discussing that girls [we all] have value in our foundation–in Jesus– and that is more important than beauty and intelligence and ability. I agree that it is more important, but I don’t want to kill the soul for the sake of the body–or look over the body for the sake of the soul. Meaning, they are parts to the whole. You have value, now how am I going to speak to you?

    When the main stream church speaks: there are many action verbs given to men and passive verbs given to women (in culture too, yes, but especially in the church). Freedom in Christ is one thing, walking and talking within that freedom is another. Once someone is “free” in Christ, then what do they “do?” What verbs are we giving women? Humanity is “broken,” for sure. However, there is healing each individual experiences throughout his or her walk–what the challenge is–how do we “speak” or “listen” to others on that journey? How do we call them to action in their lives?

    I have heard many a sermon about calling young boys into men by 1) telling them they are made for a purpose in God 2) To seek after God and his character in order to reflect that character (through actions and deeds). These are very active verbs. Seek. Action. Deeds.

    I would be nice if we had as much trust in God’s design of women to apply such verbs. I think from a secular way, that is what the Huffington Post article is stating–that how we speak to girls we highlight what is important in them as women.

    My concern is that we look past the hurt and problem and point over it toward “God.” God is such an easy excuse–look at Jesus and how he loves us unconditionally–that should be enough. However, is it? If it was, then why are sitting listening to sermons? Why are we turning on the Christian Radio station? Why are we browsing blogs? Because we also need to be affirmed and lead.

    Girls are told to “do” beauty– in a perverse ways–told to reflect God’s beauty. It sounds good, doesn’t it? That’s the problem with arguments that use “God” — it’s hard to argue with “God” — even if God is no where within that argument. That’s not what I am saying you’re doing, by the way.

    I appreciate you bringing attention to this important issue. Truly we agree, we have value because we exist. We exist because God made us. God made us and loves us unconditionally. We can only know true love and purpose through God. I feel like I may be writing a book here. Sorry about that.

    One last thing, if every time my spouse said to me how much he loved me, and I asked why, he said because Christ died for me –that would be good, but would leave me wanting. As I am sure it would leave him wanting, if I said the same to him. We each want to hear that we are loved unconditionally, but we also want to know what people love in us–and in this way, women have been lead that the lovable parts are those superficial parts.


      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I pray that God gives us churches that call all people to engage in His kingdom mission. Each of us is called to seek Jesus and to give all of who we are for his glory. May we all encourage one another as often as we can, which includes appreciation of who God has made us to be and how God is at work in and through our gifts and talents. May the Holy Spirit enable and embolden you to seek and act and do great things to engage our world for good.



    I find that your post is thoughtful but also missing some important information. For example, the Huffington Post article was in response to an issue so prevalent in our culture that it is literally killing women. Also, our churches (as you mention) are not without shared fault. For example, how many worship teams do you know that have ugly or overweight woman involved? Not many. Now saying that people are loved by Jesus is AWESOME! It is important that girls and boys, women and men know that this is the case. However, God also gave us parents and people in our lives to tell us what is it about us that is unique-what we have that is God-given. When woman are told to think about their gifts and callings and strengths, it may be hard to find value in ideas when beauty is all we’ve been praised for, whether we meet the goal or not. Be more beautiful. Or, be more God-like, which works well with beauty. Be more beautiful and humble. As a woman in the church, I have heard this and I know it is there for many others. Honestly, I’d like the men in my life to think of how my ideas (because I have many) and my contributions are valuable. I’d like to be heard. I’d like to be seen, too. But it is a complete package. Do we all need to know we are loved and valued in Jesus. Yes! But, I wouldn’t write a response essay to violence against women with the idea that you only need to tell them that they are loved by God. It’s part but not a whole. And I do believe with the way that we objectify women leads to violence against women. Perhaps God would like us to listen to women, too. To believe they have value enough to listen to them. Value enough to praise them for their ideas. Value enough to give them a high-five for a job well done. The truth is, no matter how you cut the pie, women are told that to be beautiful is to have power and purpose. The church says to be beautiful is to have power and purpose. You brought God into the conversation– now the call is to revolutionarily change how we value women. We know God does, but do we?


      Sharla, Thanks for your comment. I agree with much of what you say. If you read the other comments on this post, I’ve talked about this before. I will tell my daughter “good job,” give her “high-fives,” and celebrate her uniqueness. The difference is what foundation upon which we should choose to build. I believe strongly that a Christian parent needs to begin with the love of God in Jesus that we have no matter our beauty or intellect or athletic prowess or whatever skill/talent/gift we might have. He loves us because of how good Jesus is, not because of how good we are. When we truly understand all that we have in Jesus (and make that understanding the foundation of our lives), then we are for the first time truly free to be our unique selves without idolizing our uniqueness or goodness or work. This is true of both men and women. I think this is part of what Jesus means when he said, “To find your life, you must lose it.”

      I do agree, as I stated in the post, that much harm has come to women through many avenues, and those issues need to be addressed courageously. And, yes, those issues need to be addressed inside the church as well as outside. My fear is that we won’t go far enough in our answers. In that case, we will simply trade one set of harmful issues for another set of slightly less harmful issues–that doesn’t truly bring the kind of freedom from brokenness that we need. And the kind of freedom Jesus offers us.

      Thanks again for your note. Blessings…


    This isn’t just how you should should talk to little girls . . . This is how you should talk to people like me. Girls (or guys) who have lived under pressure to be a “good Christian” or be the sweet, smiley, compassionate person everyone thinks she is for her whole life. For that matter, this is how you should talk to anyone around you. I’m sure just because I need to hear this when I’m almost 21 does not mean I won’t need to hear it when I’m 30, 50, or 99 years old. My life is WAY more broken than anyone knows, and I needed to hear the truth that I am loved despite what I do and how I look. Thank you.


      Thanks for the openness and gratitude. We are all broken, and we all need to be reminded of God’s love for us in Jesus. May you know the deep, deep love of God as you walk with him for as many years as he gives you until he brings you home.


    Well done! You have put thoughts to writing in a way I have not been able to articulate. I do not have a daughter nor a child at that, though one day I pray that God would grant me such a blessing. I do have the opportunity to speak into the lives of many middle school boys and girls every week and this truth is rings eternally deep. Thank you for your thoughts and convictions toward both the American society as a whoel and more specifically the American church.


    I speak professionally on this topic, and you are the first father to put this into words so beautifully. I usually have moms that attend my workshops, but as I’ve noticed with my 4 daughters, it’s their daddy that really needs to come through with this unconditional love. What do you think would entice fathers to attend a workshop? “BBQ, Beer, and Body Image?”


    I found as my children got older the comments they heard from others changed from “aren’t you cute” to “aren’t you smart/talented.” As parents we try to focus our kids on being who God made them to be, and if that includes being bright or talented, acknowledging that comes from God and accepting the responsibility that comes with it. I sometimes sense a backlash toward intellectualism in Christian circles. I believe God created each of us with something to contribute, and I am thankful that includes many bright, curious writers, inventors, scientists, etc., who explore the world and ideas who put in the effort to study and work as God calls them in their own lives.
    I appreciate your thoughtful commentary.


      Gaylen, thanks for the comment. Sadly, I find that mentality among some people as well. Once we understand that God’s love does not rest on our performance, we can stand on that firm foundation and give our all to the endeavors God has called us to. “Whatever you do…do all to the glory of Christ” (1 Cor 10:31)–taking this verse a little out of context, but the idea applies.


    I thoroughly enjoyed your article and following comments! My grandma used to say “Pretty is as pretty does.” I always liked that quote because it takes the emphasis off of outward beauty, but it still can be focused on performance. I’m glad you included the unhealthy emphasis on morality which can be the most deceiving. Living by principles is different than living by Christ – or as you so well described it – listening to His voice. I have a story about the issue of pressure to be intelligent. One day our daughter opened up and told her dad and me that she didn’t feel very smart compared to her “overachieving” peers in our home school co-op. While I tried to come up with a way to affirm her and not feel condemned myself for being her teacher, my husband did something I will never forget. He opened the Bible and said “Let’s see what God has to say about that.” He asked her to read to Colossians 2:3. New Living Translation (NLT) “In Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Then he proceeded to tell her that she had all she needed in Jesus. It so touched and relieved me to know that we were both ok because of Jesus. 🙂 He also used to constantly tell our kids that Christ is the secret to life. Paul said in Phil. 4:12,13 “I have learned the secret of living in every situation…13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” I know those verses are referring to physical needs, but I can’t help but think it also applies to our emotional needs. One other thought about outward beauty – I like the story of Esther because she honored God with her gift of outward beauty and it was enhanced before the King because of her inward beauty. What an amazing story of God’s deliverance based on a young girl who had a healthy understanding of her value and remained humble, even risking her own life for others and not using it for her own benefit. The world is in the realm of comparison. Esther didn’t live in that realm at all. She loved others. I love the following verses that address that temptation. 2 Corinthians 10:12 New International Version (NIV) “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” Well, that’s my 2 cents worth. Thanks for pointing us to Jesus in the area of our worth!


    Mr. Lawrence,
    I am thanking God for using you to write this articale. Currently i am writing a book on insecurity for girls ( young through college age) . I was writing on insecurity in beauty when a friend sent me this link . ( oh how God works in wonderful ways!) I was wondering if i could put it in my book? It really rang true for this 20 year old !


    I enjoyed your blog post especially that you are the father of this little girl. She is very blessed. I wanted to encourage you to read one of my favorite books called “The seven Longings of the Human Heart” by Mike Bickle He believes that the longing of to be beautiful and the longing to make an impact(or be successful) are God given and are there because He created us to have all of our longings filled by Him and in Him. So yes our greatest longing should be filled in Jesus but those feelings of wanting to be beautiful are from Him and shouldn’t be discounted as some would like to do. We need to turn to Jesus to satisfy that desire because He calls us beautiful. We are successful because He is successful. It is exactly what you are saying except without discounting the desires we have to be beautiful or any of the other seven longings we have.


      Thanks for the note. Again, I’m not against a desire to be beautiful, smart, creative, athletic or other things, I just want my daughter to build those on a foundation of the love of God rather than making them the ultimate goal. Appreciate it.


    Thank you from Thailand! I have a 20 months old daughter. Your post is truly a blessing for me. Thai culture goes the opposite when saying about the beauty. Instead of saying something (too) positive, they would say something like “Aw, you have a flat nose. You’ll need a surgery when grow up.”


      Thanks for the post from Thailand! Very interesting perspective. It’s amazing to see how people can approach some things differently, and yet the gospel of Jesus speaks truthfully and strongly to all of us. Grace to you and your daughter.


    This was a beautifully written article, thank you for capturing what my heart aches for my children. I have thought a lot about how to help my kids cope with remarks on their looks from strangers. On the one hand, I want them to be able to graciously accept complements as they are given–on the other I want the attention to be focused on the amazing non-visible attributes which are SO much important.

    I once met a woman who had her daughters respond to complements: It’s from Jesus, on the inside. And, at the time I found it very off-putting because it didn’t actually accept the complement–but instead sort of deflected it.

    So I am going to start accepting complements on behalf of my children by saying: Thank you! Their beauty comes from the inside out. It is enough of a gracious acceptance as a request to look deeper than beauty.


    Thank you! This is exactly what I was feeling when I read the article by Bloom! Thanks for putting it into words.


    Thanks for sharing this vital message. It is not just for my four daughters but for their momma too! God has been speaking to me for quite some time regarding His love for me and how He loves me just because I’m His child. It is my hope and prayer that our daughters will be secure in God’s love always, not just in their heads but in their hearts and they will share this transforming truth to others.


    I enjoyed reading your response to Lisa Bloom’s article, Jeff. However, I believe you may have misrepresented her when you said she was suggesting we “swap physical beauty for intellectual capacity.” She spoke of ideas, interests and achievements. Those may not all be of the academic orientation. She spoke with the little girl in the article about books because the little girl was reading at the time they met. Had the little girl been playing basketball, she may have asked her about that. Personally, I think what’s fun is hearing what kids start to ramble on about when they feel comfortable with you. Little girls in pretty dresses may be far happier talking with you about the worms they found that day, or how they helped Dad clean the car, or the 24 straight bounces they got on their pogo stick. We just need to find where their excitment and passion lie.

    Teaching girls, and all children, to recognize the gifts God has given them is the important part. Not just the amazing and unconditional love, but the value and riches God has bestowed on them. There was intention behind God choosing those gifts to take shape in compassion, leadership, intelligence, athletic prowess, organization, humor, or likely a combination of these and so many more. (This is along the lines of what Emily discussed in an earlier comment)

    Thank you for being willing to consider the “whole person” in your daughter, and not just the adorable princess! 🙂


      Sara, I appreciate your thoughtfulness. I don’t think I misrepresented Bloom. The closing thought of her article was a call for us to talk to little girls about books and to “model for her what a thinking woman says and does.” And again, I don’t disagree with the need to move beyond talking about beauty only. God’s gifts to us are amazing (see my Beauty and Grace in Waste Land post for more on this) and the fact that people are beautiful and intelligent and courageous and athletic and funny and creative is certainly evidence of the creative and powerful and good hand of God. But they are not the main thing.

      I like to think of it as “building” my life. Which foundation do I want to build on? The foundation I want to build my life upon is God’s love. Then, I want to build upon that solid ground to do all I can with my life (intelligence/work/creativity/appearance/service/etc). But I let those things rest upon solid rock. If a person builds on the foundation of her talents, looks, success, etc, you are building on shifting sands. Even worse, one may build a foundation of their performance and try to place the love of God upon this shaky foundation.

      Thanks again for your comments. Resting in God’s love for you, I hope you will live courageously and love radically with all the gifts and talents and personality and creativity that God has blessed you with.


    Thanks for this….I have a little girl just under 2 at home and am stoked to see how you articulated that which I have felt as a dad (and former punk who did not treat women well before Jesus redeemed me) into words with some Scripture and Jesus behind it. Encouraging and takes the scare (just a tiny bit) out of being a dad of a little girl who is going to be objectified in our culture eventually. Thanks again.


      Jesse – thanks for checking in. Great to hear your thoughts. Parenting isn’t something you ever do just right, but there is grace when you fail and hope for wisdom along the way. James 1 says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Grace.


    This is so beautiful and exactly what I needed to hear and believe the Lord has been speaking to me for a while now. I would love to link to this post from my blog in an upcoming post, if you don’t mind. Thank you for your wisdom.


    This has really opened my eyes.I had only one child. (had meaning he dies at the age of 17) I have alway had a soft spot in my heart for girls beings not having one. I have been doing exactly what you discribed as complimenting.I no longer will be doing that, you have reminded me it is whats on the inside of Gods creations that is the most important. Thank you


      Linda, I’m so sorry to hear of your sons passing. I can’t comprehend the grief of that loss, but I pray that God’s grace has carried you and will continue to carry you in all things. May you know the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love.


    I appreciated Lisa Bloom’s article, and I appreciate much of what you say here. We can indeed fall into various ‘traps’, whether beauty or intelligence as you note. But I would add that the gospel of Jesus is not only that “You are loved as you are” (although it most definitely is that) but it is also that you are created uniquely, and given specific gifts, capacities, talents, and interests (whether beauty, intellect, creativity, vision) to be put to good use. Most of us have some beauty and intelligence in varying degrees. What matters is use to which we put the various gifts we are given. This message some times gets lost when the good news is that Jesus died for you, just as you are. While true, this can elide the importance of the fact that Jesus also lived a certain life and called others to follow. This in my view, is what women need to hear; that whatever gifts, talents, capacities, and beauties they have in a holistic sense… they are to be put to good and creative use as long as we still have life and breath.


      Emily, I don’t disagree with that. The point I was making in the article was this: “When we operate from a place of gospel-security that is grounded in the love of God rather than in her own ability to measure up, we are truly free. Only then can we enjoy beauty and intellect and performance in freedom rather than compulsion.” When we have the proper foundation in the grace of the gospel, then the gospel compels us to the mission of using all that we are for God’s glory, the growing of his kingdom, and the good of our world.


    This is so poignant and beautifully written. Speaking the truth to our children, God’s truth, is the most important role we have as parents. Thank you.


    I just had my little girl put permanent marker on my new mac too! Weird!
    For me TELLING them that they are loved how they are is one thing, but actually SHOWING them that it is true by my actions, attitudes and responses to them is another challenge altogether! Grace, grace and more grace needed!


    Thank you for this amazing response. I remembering reading the original article a while back and agreeing with Bloom, but you have gone further into the real, true value that comes from Jesus. I have a 2 and half year old daughter and I pray every day that she know Jesus early and deeply in order to combat what the world may try to offer her. Thank you.


    Great! thanks so much for putting it all in perspective. Fear can cripple us, but when we understand I John 4, that God loves us, fears can be removed and then we can be free to love others – not worrying about ourselves! Thanks for the Gospel reminder.


    Oh, so so true. Thank you for writing this. I was one of the ones who eagerly shared that article to not focus on little girls’ beauty. But, you’re absolutely right. Even focusing on their intelligence or their likes and opinions, is not enough. I am 28 years old, and I still have a hard time believing that God loves me exactly the way I am. I grew up in a church that heavily emphasized morality, exactly like you described. As a result, I felt neither pretty or good enough. The idea that God cherishes me is something I have to repeat to myself over and over, and my heart still has a hard time accepting that fact. I pray that I can help my girls, and boys, to see this truth from an early age.

    Kristi at My Cup Runs Over,


    Good points.
    I got through college thinking I hadn’t been affected by notion that “girls are supposed to be pretty, not smart.” But I had absorbed the notion that the two were mutually exclusive. I remember being really little and dancing around in my princess pajamas, but I went through all of elementary, middle, and high school without wearing a dress/skirt to class because I thought unnecessarily dressing up was a sign of superficiality, and, as a smart girl (and a Christian, for that matter) that was inappropriate. I acted confident in myself, but really I was hiding my personality in a box I had wedged myself into. Girls can be beautiful and smart — and, like you say, neither will fulfill their (our) ultimate desire for unconditional love. What do people do without Jesus?


      Erin, great thoughts. I think you hit on an important note. We are to enjoy and cultivate the beauty and intellect and talents that God gives to us. The question is “why?” are we doing these things. When they are externally motivated by pressure, rules, success, performance, societal influence, etc, we end up looking to these things for our value. Then, the law of diminishing returns kicks in: we need more and more affirmation in these areas to feel valued. This is a trap. It is a radically different thing to know that without a doubt you are loved and accepted as you are because of Christ no matter what. When you know this, you are free to cultivate your beauty and mind and performance with joy and passion that doesn’t diminish but grows.


    I LOVED the message of this article!
    To communicate to ones’s little child they are precious because Jesus gave His life for them, and to communicate every day in small and big ways this wonderful love, and care, brings freedom to grow in God’s grace, empowerment to develop in His giftings.


    i think as parents we need to lead by example…no one would have believed jesus was who he said he was if he didn’t walk the walk……if a mom is obsessed with her size, beauty…etc..that can lead to the same issues with a little girl…if a dad is obsessed with sports, cars, working out etc…it can lead to issues with a lil boy….if we as parents will live our lives in such a way that we think would we want our kids too grow up too be just like us….kids see everything and copy everything they see there parents do….as a mom of three boys i lead my house with living values such as honor, loyalty, grace, forgiveness and no judgement…my boys will grow up too be good men because they are good boys…they do worry about there appearance and how well they do on the football field, i don’t focus on that…i also have an open line of communication with them and recently had a conversation with my 12 year old about the importance of seeing who a girl is as opposed to just focusing on her beauty… a friend of mine said too me the other day..”a woman is only as beautiful as she perceives herself too be”…..a lil girl needs to be shown that you can be beautiful as too society standards but if there is nothing inside you, there is no sustenance too who you are, the physical beauty goes away…and that a woman who is not typically beautiful but is on the inside how her physical beauty morphs and changes before your eyes into something you didn’t see before because now you see who she is… all that too say there needs to be balance in all things..but in the end all matters is who you are!!


      Thanks for the note. I hope you’ll give me the chance to modify your last sentence…In the end, all that matters is who Jesus is! We all fall short, but in Jesus we are so loved and accepted that we are made into something new. Our identity comes from him. This doesn’t minimize our uniqueness or activity at all. Rather, it frees us to be who we are and to use boldly the gifts and talents he has given to us. So glad you are present in your kids’ lives to love them and encourage them to lean on Jesus.


    I keep praying for help with perspective as we’re raising our three now teenage daughters. From balancing academics, social lives, high-level athletic commitments, and self-image, to feelings of self-worth, and the impact of personal and others’ actions; it goes on-and-on. As I was trying deemphasize some areas, I had realized I had sent the wrong message in other areas. I was struggling with the balance. This thoughtful article put everything into a crystal clear canister.


      Thanks, PB. I’m certain that the teenage years will present a lot of challenges as we raise our kids. Good job in wrestling with all of the tough stuff and praying and pressing on in faith. Grace to you.


    Interesting post. I have 2 sons and 4 grand kids (3 little girls and 1 boy) and I agree with what you say and commend you on your awareness. I’m just afraid that you have a concern for your daughter’s future and what her looks might have to do with it and quote scripture in support but self confess that you participate in and allow your sons to be conditioned by the world that we are to be in but not a part of. Football for one is the modern day Roman gladiator sports, so to speak, only difference is we have taken the death part out and replaced it with the sex and glamor on the sidelines (example simplified.) Please understand that I mean no disrespect but truth and following God is a journey and your on the right track, just don’t lead your son’s down the path that will promote them looking at the adorned beauty in the way you are properly attempting to protect your daughter from. Stay strong and good luck. The world is progressively getting to be a place where it is harder and harder to protect our little ones. Rick


      Rick, thanks for the note. I hear what you are saying, but I would differ with you on some things here. My wife and I are encouraging our sons along the same lines as we are encouraging our daughter. There is a different set of issues for boys to deal with, but the answer is the same — grace in Jesus. I don’t agree that watching (or playing) football is being “of the world,” but to make a child’s worth and value on their success in a game is certainly damaging and wrong. May you know and enjoy the grace of Jesus more and more and help your kids and grandkids to do the same.


    As I was reading this, especially the part ‘Why little girls need the gospel of Jesus above all elae’ it reminded me of a book I am reading now, Lady in Waiting. A lot of the book talks about surrendering your heart to Jesus and that we are made unique and in God’s timing, he will produce an encounter with our prince. Many women think that the outside is important to men. If he is a godly man, he will look beyond the outside and see what we have to offer on the inside as well.


      Tonya, thanks. You are right that the man a woman should give herself to is one who appreciates all of who she is and prioritizes the heart. A godly husband or wife will explore both the heart and the body of his/her spouse and enjoy them both as gifts from God.


    As a single mother to a little girl, who is 20 months old and is always complimented for how beautiful she is, I thank you for writing this. I try to make sure that I balance out my personal compliments towards her. She is pretty, she is smart, but that is not what makes her who she is. She is sweet, gentle, loving, and giving. I am also a “moral performance trap” kind of mother. I pray daily for her as I have since she was conceived. I was raised where my beauty was highly praised by my mother, and still is. I was always “pretty and smart” and that would get me a good husband. I raised myself religiously in the Pentecostal church, there I found a comfort in the “rules” in them I found a value that God alone could give me. I do strive to raise my daughter to dress in a way that respects her as a person and does not send the “wrong message” but I see the standards of my church not as a hindrance but a freeing thing. I dress to please the one who loves me beyond anything else. I do not feel that this lays any kind of “trap” for my child.


      Ginny, thanks for the note. Rules aren’t bad. We have them in my house too. It’s the way we view them and enforce them that can become a trap. If we make a child’s following the rules the ultimate sign of their goodness or worth, we are in trouble. We don’t obey the rules so that we can earn the love of God, or even earn the love of our parents. We obey God because we are so blown away by Jesus’ love for us and sacrifice for our sins that we **want** to honor him with our lives. I pray that you and your daughter will grow in the knowledge and power of Jesus’ gospel in the days and years to come. Thank you, as a single mom, for loving your little girl well.


    This came at a great time. People are always telling my daughter how pretty she is and how much they love her red hair. 🙂 I am always wanting her to know that her insides are way more important than her outsides. This is just confirmation on how to continue to talk with her. 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to write this article.


    Thanks for a beautifully articulated and very accurate post. The tenderness and love in your words for Kate are such a precious reminder of how tenderly and lovingly God sees us. Your post brought to mind a children’s book someone shared w/me last year: Sidney & Norman, by Phil Vischer (a great book about how He loves us no matter what). Thank you for sharing!


      Thanks for the comment and the recommendation. I cannot imagine an earthly love greater than the love I have for my wife and kids, and yet God’s love for his children is so much more. Thanks for that note.


    Precious, precious words. Thank you Jeff. I have 3 gorgeous daughters, inside and out, ages 10, 7, and 4. You can only imagine the struggles that have begun in our home already! : ) The truth in this article is so fantastic. Thanks again for sharing.


      Sandy, I imagine you are quickly becoming an expert in the issues discussed in the article. I know it’s easier at 2 than it’s going to be at 12 as it relates to these issues. Blessings along the way…


    A friend shared this article on Facebook and I’m so glad that I took the time to read it. I am 9 months pregnant with our first child. And oh do I, along with my husband, want to instill in our child to find his or her (we don’t know our baby’s sex) identity and security in Christ. Thank you for making a long day better and sharing this. God is good! 🙂


    This is a great post! It’s so interesting to read about this from a dad’s perspective. Something I read in Dr. Dobson’s “Bringing Up Girls” is that girls have a desire to be beautiful, and we need to guide it. I think that’s pretty true, so with my girls (8 and 6), I try to teach them that they’re beautiful no matter what they wear or how their hair looks, but because God made them beautifully. And similar to how you talk to Kate (which is so precious), I tell them and my son (7) that I love them all the time, no matter what, even when they mess up. I can tell it’s sticking because now they say it back to me when I mess up. 🙂 Thank you for writing!


    I read your article and mostly looked back at my own childhood as a girl, with a bit of sadness. Misguidedly, my dad made comments about how I wasn’t the most attractive girl out there so I had to make up for it in other ways. I struggled with the concept my worth for years. After much discussion with my husband, prayer and tears, I finally realized that all of my efforts to “be someone” was unnecessary to achieve worth because Jesus’ love is all I need.

    I have two young boys currently, but I think this article is still relevant to them in some ways. Thanks for the thoughts.


    WOW. I guess I never thought of it like that. We tell our children that they are beautiful and handsome (1 son and 2 daughters), but we also try to emphasize that inner beauty is so much more. Our behavior is more than looks. When they begin to have a tantrum (anywhere), we stop and get down to their level to talk about it, and remind them that stuff is just stuff and they are worth so much more to Jesus than “stuff”. We try SO. VERY. HARD. to remind them that when we throw fits, we’re not doing what Jesus wants us to do. But we’ve avoided (not purposefully) emphasizing the importance of the magnitude of Jesus’ love for us. I guess we’ll have to sit down to figure out what we need to say to our kiddos in ways that they’ll comprehend.

    Thanks for a wonderful post!


      Thanks for the comment. It is the kindness of God that brings us to repentance. Always remember that we do not do what is right to earn his love. We learn to honor him in our actions because he has already accepted us in Jesus. As a parent, we are all learning and doing the best we can. We fail sometimes, and we need Jesus’ grace too. Blessings to you and your family.


    Jeff – Thanks for the insight. I’ve learned these things through the experience of raising a son with Downs Syndrome. God has showed me that there is beauty in everyone — we have all been fearfully and wonderfully made, no matter our appearances, mental aptitude, disposition, etc. My son has been the best example for my daughter (and us), and she thanks God for her brother every night when she prays.


    I’m so blessed to read this, thank you for sharing your thoughts and such rich truths! As a mom of three and a woman myself, this is a tireless message and one that needs regular repeating. It’s amazingly freeing to realize that all we have to do is come to Him, He is what makes us beautiful! All the glory goes to Him! I feel like there is so much confusion in this area even in the church and I’m thrilled to have read your article, thanks again and many blessings!!


    I strongly encourage everyone to read “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk”. It has a very relevant chapter titled “Praise”. The short of it is that praise should be situation-specific, rather than trait-specific, i.e., “You did a good job practicing the piano today”, rather than “You’re a great piano player”.


    I loved reading this! My husband and I recently had a baby in July and this is so encouraging! We want to emphasize that God is the most important thing about her. We want to grow a God-fearing girl that’s becomes a woman who will raise a child and do the same. Thanks for posting this!


    As a mother of 2 girls I have been stopped on every outting with passerbys to tell me how beautiful they are…I have always followed up with,”thank you..they are kind and compassionate too.” My oldest is 27 and my youngest 16 I have always wanted them to be defined as women of substance. I am happy and blessed to say they are.


    This is a wonderful article! It is so hard these days to keep from falling right into the pressures to be what America says is beauitful, and the perspective you gave makes it much easier for me as a mother to teach my daughter who is 4 and my son who is 7 months that life is about so much more than outer beauty. I have taught Bri from day one that Jesus loves her and is everything and she is now in a Christian school, and hearing the way she talks about Jesus is the sweetest sound i have ever hears. Above her first mommy, and even her first i wub you 🙂 So again thank you! It is so refreshing to hear that there ARE still people who love Jesus, and that we’re not alone, it feels that way sometimes when we hear all the terrible things happening around the world. Alittle light is just what we need as a pick me up.


    “Real Beauty” is more than skin deep.


    My daughter is nearly seven and deep into the whole ‘princess’ thing. It has been hard to balance her love of all things royal and beautiful because I don’t want to overemphasize the exterior of anything – whether it’s her looks, her room, etc. When it is so hard for us as adults to look deeper, how do we teach our children to do that? My four-year-old son walked in the room a few months ago and said – completely out of the blue – to her, “You’re a real princess. Princesses are real. You’re God’s princess because He’s the king.” Maybe they’re getting it more than I thought.


      Amy, fantastic line from your son…out of the mouth of babes! I often remind people that we bear God’s glory as sons and daughter of the King.

      Ultimately, none of this should diminish the nobility and wonderfulness of our humanity. God’s creation of us and Jesus’ incarnation as one of us elevate human life to great esteem. I should have mentioned this in some earlier comments, but my post on Beauty and Grace in Waste Land speaks of the dignity and beauty of all humanity. It gives some theological grounding for some of the things people have commented on here.



    Thank you SO much for sharing these thoughts on this subject! I have a 2 daughters (1 & 2) and a third daughter due in March. As my oldest has recently started walking around the house saying, “I gorgeous” and “I beautiful”, I’ve realized that we have put the emphasis on the wrong thing. It is very important to me to raise godly daughters and not just good, moral daughters. This article came to me just as I’m beginning my search on how to go about this. And, as my husband and I have left the ultimate number of children in God’s hands, we are sure there will be many others. Hopefully we get some boys in the mix eventually. This article can definitely be helpful in teaching them that looks aren’t the most important thing in looking for a wife (when that day comes!). I truly believe God has spoken through you, and I thank you, again, for sharing.


      Thanks, Melissa. Like your statement of wanting kids to be godly, not just good. Reminds me of the line that we want to be holy, not just happy. We are never the main character in the story — God is. We get to be a part of the story showing off the lead actor. You are right to note that this should shape the kinds of spouses our kids seek. I pray you kids will find spouses who honor and glorify Jesus.


    As I read this, through tears, I am holding my 4 month old daughter. She was born with micropthalmia, which means smaller eye accompanied by possible blindness. She is beautiful, and I know she has a long road ahead of her as kids can be so cruel. However, I believe God created her this way for a reason. We may never know this reason, but I know we are beautiful in His eyes no matter what. Thank you for writing this article. I needed to read this right now.


      Angela – may God comfort you in your tears even now. Sad to hear of your daughters micropthalmia. I know that’s a heavy burden for a parent to carry. We do not always understand our pain, but we can know that God is with us in the midst of our struggle. May you cling to the reality of the cross and the empty tomb of Jesus as evidence of God’s forever love in a broken and tear-filled world. May you know the presence of his Spirit until he wipes away those tears.


    Thank you for your thoughts on this! I would def. be interested in what you have to say about boys as a follow-up. I have boy/girl twins and they couldn’t be more different even though they were raised the same and have had most of the same experiences. It’s really fascinating. I find it very difficult to try to protect them from the influences out there that are so very different than when I was young. I know that I can’t always protect them but can only try to arm them with the resources they might need and trust God to help them make the right decisions – and then PRAY!


      Sitcom – After having three boys, I can say that a little girl is radically different for me. There seems to be interest in the boys article, so I’m going to try and attack that soon. Prayer is a great weapon in the raising of our kids. It’s one I don’t wield deeply and passionately enough. Thanks for the reminder.


    What a great reminder and guide as we raise a 10 and 3 year-old. I’ve tried to be cautions about my comments regarding their outward appearance and have struggled with how to praise them. I don’t want them to grow up performance obsessed, so this will be a great guide for talking to them about what makes them special. Yes, what they accomplish is important, and they do enjoy hearing feedback about how they look, but I want to teach them where their real worth comes from.


      Hey Amy, thanks for the note. You know us well enough to know we don’t always do this perfectly, so we are all still learning. There is grace for parents too. Even in our needing grace, we paint a picture for our kids of how grace is available for them. Take care, friend, and tell Harry “hey.”


    Thank you for this article. What a helpful and encouraging reminder! I know for me, as a mother, it has to start with remembering these things myself, and preaching the gospel to myself. We “tell” with our actions as well, and I don’t want my little ones to remember me as anxious about my weight or my looks, or trying to earn God’s favor by my performance. We need grace to live the gospel in front of our children as well as speaking it to them.

    I also wanted to say–I’ve never visited this blog before (saw a link to this post on facebook) . . . as I was reading through the comments, many of the comments were just as helpful and encouraging as the article itself. None of them were negative. Even on Christian blogs and websites, that is rare. So–thanks for the encouragement, Jeff and everyone else. The Lord bless you all.


      Danielle, so appreciate your thoughts here. I completely agree that our modeling a gospel-centered life for our kids is an enormous part of their growth. As a friend of mine likes to say, “We don’t want to be like a travel agent selling them tickets to places we’ve never been.” We have to believe and live the gospel in front of them, and we have to teach the gospel to them. They go together.

      I too have been really pleased that the comments have stayed so positive. It is rare, and I’m grateful for that.


    What a thought-provoking and inspirational article! Thank you for new insight and a new challenge!


    What a challenge – continuing to learn myself, as a mom, that Christ is ENOUGH and His love is sufficient – then teaching it to my eight kids (four of which are girls). Your thoughts and the comments are tremendously helpful! I can’t help but think that if they learn NOW, while they are young, to fully depend on Christ, that they will be spared much heart-ache in life – no matter what trials come. And I’m going to start saying, “But Jesus loves you more!”. Thank you! And I look forward to your post about boys. It’s tough for them, too!


      Eight kids! What a blessing and opportunity to raise followers of Jesus. It’s a life-long journey. I’m still learning to fully depend on Jesus, and I know I’ll always fall short, but by his grace will learn to walk more closely with Him until I go to be with him. Thanks for celebrating the life of your children.

    Kristine Bates Krahn January 5, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I value your take on the beauty of our daughters and who created them as they are. I have 3 daughters and a son. My girls still look at pink/ crimson skys’ at sunset and say” hey God made that for us because its our favorite color”. They are aware of the Father’s heart of God and that they belong in His arms. Being raised by me alone for the past 12 years I have used scripture as well as other materials (by Bill Johnson and Jack Frost for example) that explore our identity and purpose in Christ and encourage confidence in our gifts and creativity…and of course the creator of our beauty…we are wonderfully made! P.S. My son is amazing and I have read Wild at Heart with him twice. He really connects with Brad Jursak and his book on listening prayer. He’s a treasure hunter and I like to give him tools to use to express himself…canvas and paint, tools and a tool belt, jack knife and driftwood, matches and firewood…he speaks many ways.


      Kristine – I have such admiration for single moms. So proud of you for teaching your children what it means to trust Jesus in all of life. May God’s grace and wisdom and strength carry you day by day.


    I have another comment to make in this regard, without reference to any songs this time. I have two stepchildren with developmental disabilities and when a person gets to know them, it is clear at once that true beauty is within the Christ in them, for He is the hope of Glory. There is evidently beauty of personality, but like physical beauty, intelligence and physical strength can be short lived. Someone may be alright mentally one minute, then due to an accident or Act of God, it could all be taken away in a heartbeat! We want to instill in our young girls (and all our children) that true beauty is what cannot be touched with the human hand, but only with the heart.


    HOW TRUE these comments are and especially the artlcle by Jeff. This brings to mind: 2 songs.
    One, on the subject of the overemphasis of beauty of girls: by Stephen Curtis Chapman ” The Fingerprints of God” and for men or people in general, by 4 Him, “The Measure of a Man”. (both somewhat OLD songs, but still the words are indelibly marked in my mind and heart!. Thanks for the reminder! Sharon Chapman (no relation to our brother in Christ, Stephen)


    As the mother of a little girl who is almost 3 yrs, and arrived 11 yrs after her brothers, I feel it’s important to tell one’s daughter of her beauty. I tell my daughter Rhiannan that she’s amazing, funny, clever, crazy, messy, adorable, sweet, cuddly, incredible and just plain great. There are many words people could use to compliment a pretty girl. I was never told any of these as a child so I want my daughter to feel all these things I like about her, but I also agree that many people concentrate on physical beauty in their compliments. I am also glad to really have had my eyes opened on this issue. But living in France, I have noticed people saying things like ‘coquine’ which is a cute rascal. Many terms of endearment here are also the names of baby animals. I hear ‘Ma petite blondinette’. I enjoy hearing their observations and, which are sometimes surprising, in that they don’t always indicate physical beauty. I noticed that girls are allowed to remain girls longer here, but then I see ladies in their sixties, with fishnet stockings and mini/micro skirts. Thank you for your article, real food for thought, especially in addressing other little girls I meet!


      Appreciate the comment, Julie. Other cultures definitely experience things in unique ways. Every place has it’s own struggles and issues, but the two constants are that people are broken, and Jesus loves to give grace to broken people. Blessings.


    I wanted a “tag line” of sorts to say with my kids, starting when they were young (like “I love you to the Moon and back,” but something that was our own). Now I can ask the older two (3 and 5 on Sunday) “How much do I love you?” and they will answer “Soooooooo much!” With the oldest, I have begun asking him next, “How much does God love you?” Usually he answers “Sooooo much” just like he would for me or his dad or siblings, etc. But I always correct him with “God loves you so much more!” Someday he will ask “more than what?” And I’ll get to explain how much more than anything God loves him.

    My prayer over them as they sleep (when I remember to do more than just tuck them in and kiss them goodnight) is that I want them to be successful in all the things that the world measures success by – wealth, health, happiness, beauty, prosperity, a good family, education, etc. – but more than anything, and even though it scares me to say it (because I’ve seen what God asks of people in the Bible and elsewhere), I want them to do God’s will.


      Thanks for your note, Melissa. I pray your kids will have a deep love of Jesus, joy in all that life brings their way (the good and the bad), and a strong sense of purpose to be a part of the adventure of God’s kingdom.


    Jeff, that article was spot on and much needed for our mighty struggle against the waves of non-sense that the culture throws at us and our children. I was taking some good mental notes as I read your article for how I interact with my 3 year old daughter, Kenna. She is a bright ray of sunshine in my life and I thoroughly enjoy our interactions and watching her grow. I try to emphasize the love of Christ more than any other theological truth. My wife and I encourage her to remember that love for God and love for others are the two most important things she will ever do.

    As I read your work I was also aware of my son, who is only 1, and what I focus on with him. Both my wife and I grew up with sports and athletics and I have no doubt that my daughter and son will probably enter into that world as well. There seems to be a great deal of pressure put on little children who are endeavoring to participate in the Wide World of Sports. Our society is drunk with the athletic prowess of young men who play popular games like football, basketball and baseball. As my son grows up I want to redirect those external and unavoidable voices for temporal glory with the Lord and what He has to say.

    Thanks again for your thoughts!


      Jeremy, great stuff. The principles still apply, but you are right that there are also difference in pressures on boys and girls. This is coming up quite a bit, so I may write a “How to Talk to Little Boys” post as a follow-up to this one. Thanks for adding to the blog by including your thoughts here.


    Wow Jeff! This is a moving article. After reading this, I realize I am constantly pushing my son to perform in the classroom, on the football field, to have good behavior, etc, so on and so on. Because he is a boy, I don’t focus on his looks, but either way it is just the same. I need to stop and tell him that he is enough. This makes me cry because now I get it!!


      Appreciate it, Mandy. Jesus is always enough. It’s great to work hard and try to do something great, but we can work from a place of freedom or a place of compulsion. There is a big difference between working to earn acceptance and working because you are already accepted in Christ. So glad you are there to tell you Son about Jesus’ love.


    Jeff, Good stuff, I have a 3 yrs old daughter Abby,she is my heart, and I love her and tell her every day that “I love her” and tell her I love every thing about her, her eyes, ears, nails, hair etc…
    she love listening to that stuff and keeps on saying yeah, yeah, yeah, …you gave me some thing more profound to point it to CHRIST and HIS immense and unconditional love. I will start tell her that. Thank you and GOD bless you



      VJ – thanks for the great comment. It is hugely important that your daughter knows how much you love her. It’s even more important that she knows how much Jesus loves her. So glad to hear your desire to share that message. Thanks!


    Not only did I find your blog thoughtful but it was very insightful. It breaks my heart every time I hear my two girls talking to each other about needing to lose weight or find this, that , or the other wrong with themselves. While I do care about their appearance and doing well in school I strive daily to show them how much more important their hearts, attitudes and personal walk with Christ is. I ask them if others are able to see Christ in their walk, in their talk, in their life. I pray for the girls and boys of this new generation to be a light for their peers.

    You sound as though you are on the right path talking with your daughter so early about the gospel of Jesus. I’m so happy to read blogs like yours. Keep up the fine work! God bless!


      Thanks for taking time to comment. Like your note on praying for this generation. So encouraged to know that 45,000 college students are at the Passion Conference in Atlanta. Ideally, it starts at home with moms or dads pointing them to Jesus, continues through the local church, and extends to friends and other voices that help them love Jesus more deeply over time. Blessings to you.


    WOW! I am so grateful for this post. I am a 42 year old mother of three girls–21 {married with 2 year old son}, almost 19 and 5. It’s such a tremendous blessing to hear the Truth spoken from a father. SO AWESOME! Well said. Linking it to facebook and possibly my blog soon.


    Beautifully written! Thank u for sharing! I couldn’t agree more!! I have a 5 year old daughter that is beautiful inside and out, and very smart and creative and we constantly praise her for her acts of kindness. Of course we pray with her everyday but this is something I never thought of before. Thank u for sharing!!


    Since I was very young, my grandmother (whom I call “Grandmaly”, as I combined “Grandma” and “Beverly” as a child and it stuck) always used to ask me, “Who loves you more than Grandmaly?” I would reply, “Jesus!” Then she’d scoop me up in a big hug followed by a kiss and she’d say something along the lines of “He’s the only one, baby girl.” I still remember this early lesson as I near 30. I have two boys, no girls, but I find your blog a very helpful reminder to avoid instilling performance-based worth. It can be difficult to find a medium when shaping desired behavior in these early years (my boys are 1 and 3). Instilling the knowledge of God’s fierce, perfect love and unconditional acceptance makes it so simple. His standard is the only standard that matters. Thank you so much for this.


      Erin, love the picture you paint of your grandmother. What a wonderful gift to have shape your early years and to pass on to your kids. Love your phrase “God’s fierce, perfect love.”


      What a wonderful grandmother. I will have to say that to my own grandchildren, the boys as well as the girls.

      For years, I have told them that it’s most important to be “good and kind and loving and gentle,” and those are godly characteristics, but I am deeply touched by this message. Thank you, Mr. Lawrence.


    What you will say to your daughter is so powerful, because its something we all need to hear. Well…I mean I suppose we could tailor it for the audience. Personally, my hair doesn’t roll down into ringlets, but the message of the Gospel is exactly what you put forth. And, it is hard for people, myself very much included, so see the value of Christ seeing worth in me verses all the stuff that surrounds me being what a I take worth from. Thanks for your thoughts!


      Ashton, appreciate the comment. My hair doesn’t roll down in ringlets either, so that’s OK! We all need to constantly let the truth of the gospel wash over us and refresh us. Right there with you.


    I love this article! I got teary eyed when you wrote how you want to talk to your daughter. My husband and I will be reminding our daughters of the exact same things. I agree that beauty is something that we are born with. But, I believe intelligence is likewise innate. Some are born with great beauty, and some are born with great intelligence. Some are born with both. But, both are given by our Father. Worship of either is unhealthy. Being human, I hope that my daughters are gifted with both. (Being their mom, I believe that they are the most beautiful and smartest, lol.) I just wanted to add that I think that girls and women who have a healthy relationship with their fathers – especially fathers who point their little girls to the Father – are more likely to have a ‘right’ view of their worth. My husband loves me fat, thin, smart, stupid, silly, angry, happy, etc., etc. I am thankful that my girls get to see that. And, I pray that they will internalize that when they are choosing a husband.


      Melissa – great stuff. I agree that dads make an enormous difference. Dad carries the power to cower a child or bless a child with every word. Men submitted to Jesus are a great gift to their families. So glad you are blessed with a man that loves Jesus, you, and your daughters.


    Yes! Boys and girls alike need this sort of Gospel-rooted identity. Thanks for this!


      Marissa, thanks for the note. I have three boys (9, 9, & 6) in addition to Kate (2). I may be blogging a “boy” version of this post soon. They all need gospel-focused lives. I need it too.


    I love this article because I think so many teenage girls and women settle for men that are not God’s best because they are so desperate for love from a boy/man.
    Everytime someone compliments me in my appearance and says I’m pretty, my mom always replies, “She’s just as pretty on the inside.” I am 38 now and she still replies the same way when she introduces me to others.
    I had the opportunity to marry a boy that I loved but I knew wasn’t good for me. My mom basically raised me by herself and I knew I wanted God’s best for me so I waited and God blessed me with an incredible man. We’ve been married 12 years with 3 amazing children and I love to share my testimony with teenage girls about waiting for Gid’s best!


    Perfect timing with reading this article.. My daughter just turned 2.. full of life, full of character, full of expression. I will remember this article and what you suggest to say the next time I express my daughter’s beauty. Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts! May God bless you and your family.


    Inspiring. And points us straight to Jesus. Thank you!


    I have four daughters, and I appreciate your words so much. I’m so glad that I read this. I am finding that the older they get the more important it is to remind them of the source of their true worth. The world certainly isn’t going to.


    Jeff, thank you for digging deep under the cover of the culture. At first, it seems that beauty is valuable. Beneath that is intelligence. Deeper still, character. At root, we have the love of Christ for our children. Thank you for peeling back the layers.


    Thank you for your words. My husband and I were just discussing this a few days ago. We have a 15 month old and were discussing the importance of praising her not just for beauty but intelligence, compassion, friendliness, etc. But–I think you are exactly right-none of those things matter when you live in a broken world. We all need to be reminded of our value in Christ.


    Carol Terrell,
    I read your comment and I understand what you are trying to do, but I think that perhaps unknowingly you are putting moral performance requirements on Gabby to “look nice on the inside” that will, in time, cause the same problems you are trying to avoid. Gabby can’t do any of things you are asking her to do to look nice on the inside, in her own power. She will do this only through the Holy Spirit that is within her if she in Christ. Gabby will look nice on the inside already if Christ lives within her. The things you want her to do will come naturally when she is yielded to Him. And when she is not and those things don’t come naturally, God still loves her, and still sees Christ when He looks at her. It has nothing to do with SHE does. I’m not trying to be critical just pointing out that the words you are using speak of performance requirement when I read them. I do recognize them because I lived under them for a number of years. It’s not a place you want to take your little girl.


      Carrie, I appreciate the caution here. As I stated in the article, moral performance can be an awful burden to carry. The central thing is always to point them to the redemption of Jesus. Ultimately, we are all dependent on God’s work for us and in us.


    I read this tonight and I really thought, I need to read this to my husband. His response was wow we need to write it on our daughter’s mirror so she will see it in the morning before school. My father did an amazing job I never struggled with self esteem or anything I see my daughther struggling with. I also see it in the church more then ever. I wrote your words down, and I plan on changing words to fit my daugther in her current life. I tell my daughter it doesnt matter what we do or how bad we mess up Jesus always loves us. If my daugther could see her worth as Jesus and her family does she would soar with self confidence. A 13 year old is a tough age. I work in Middle School and I see alot of girls looking for approval from friends and boys and if we could just love them and let them know that JESUS is the one we need to love us not our human friends and boys. We have always encouraged her to do her best and have fun. This is so much more of in direct of we love you and JESUS loves you so much he gave his life there is no other person who loves or loved you more! THANK YOU!!!


      Heidi, thanks for the post. I hated Middle School. They can be really tough years. Every kid I know struggled with identity and approval in middle school. Heck, I still seek approval and have to repent of it. We have to model what it looks like to take our brokenness to Jesus by faith. Grace to you for the journey.


    Well, my daughter is 16 and my son will soon be 15. I struggled with an eating disorder/beauty/performance trap for 21 years before I found freedom in Christ. I have always been keenly aware of how the words of a parent can influence a child. I do not know exactly what I have been saying to or living out before my children, with my wonderful husband, but here is what they have picked up along the way, and I am grateful: I was recently asked to address the issue of body image to a group of young college women. As I was thinking about it, praying about it and researching various sites, I decided to ask my children their thoughts and opinions. When I asked my son why his best female friends weren’t the girls who seemed so obviously trying to get his attention, he replied “Well, mom, if a girl has a stupid personality, how hot is she, really?”. I asked my daughter how she managed to be a teenager in the public school system and exposed to television, internet, etc. and yet maintain a balanced, healthy view of self (a fact that never ceases to amaze me), she thought about it for a few minutes then said, “When I started junior high I started to wonder if boys liked me. If they would notice me. I watched some of my friends start to dress differently and act differently to get a boy’s attention. I knew I wanted a boy to like me for me. And I noticed that boys seem to be attracted to whatever a girl paid the most attention to. So I decided that I would pay attention to who I am instead of what I look like.” I am thankful that they are not, at this point, on the path that I was taking at their age!
    Thank you so much for your article; for speaking the truth with such winsome clarity!


      Glad that your kids seem to be handling the teenage years so well. The hard truth is that our brokenness shows itself in many different ways, but the wonderful reality is that gospel of Jesus is big enough for all of us. Thanks for pointing your kids to Jesus.


    I have just adopted 4 children from Ethiopia. Our girl (age 11) is very beautiful, as is our bio daughter who is 6. People have constantly told her that she is beautiful and made a big to do about her appearance. Now they are doing the same to our older daughter who is self-conscious about that. What should I say when someone exclaims about their beauty? To my girls? To the admiring acquaintance? What should I say to little girls when I see them to bring attention to something more lasting than their own beauty? At a loss for words…Thanks!


      I’d love to hear what some other moms do on this one. Any of you have anything to comment?

      I think the polite thing is to simply say, “Thank you,” when those comments come. You can’t stop that from happening. You also don’t want you daughters to be ashamed of the way that God has made them.

      I think the most important factor is for you to walk closely with Jesus and let them see where your personal worth comes from (Jesus), and then for that to be reinforced at teachable moments as well as through the teaching of a local church and youth group. Then…pray like crazy to the God who listens.


    Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing! I have four children (3 boys, 1 girl) and I have always tried to teach them that my love for them is unconditional, just like God’s love for them. I don’t want them to worry that my love is dependent on how they look, the grades they earn or any other successes or failures in their lives. When they are discouraged or down I love to hug them tight and remind them, “There is nothing you can do that would make me love you any less!” 🙂


      Lori – thanks for the comment. Grateful for parents like you who love their kids so much. Even when our love as parents fails, Jesus’ love it still there. Let’s keep pointing our kids to Jesus above all else. He’ll be there when we are gone. Peace to you…


    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject. I agree and desire to teach my three daughters AND my son, and the women I’m blessed to lead that their value and worth come from Christ. But, what I’ve really enjoyed is how you personally respond to each comment with grace and blessings. Very cool. (You don’t have to respond to that encouragement if it’s awkward since I pointed out that you’ve responded to all the comments.) 😉


    I felt twinges of discomfort reading the article because we know families with children who have special needs. They will never be considered beautiful or intellectually superior, yet these children are infinitely valued by God. He has a purpose for each of their lives, and it is not based on intelligence or beauty, but because they are created in His image.


      Nancy, thanks for bringing this up. You are exactly right. While that was beyond the scope of this post, the theology here definitely applies. Our worth does not come from our beauty or intelligence or performance. Our value as human beings is determined by God’s creating work to make us and Jesus’ redeeming work to save us. I believe this extends to the unborn as well.


    Beautiful! Thank you! Bloom’s article didn’t sit well with me, and you so graciously put words to my feelings.


    Thanks for writing……….2011 has taught me a lot about speaking truth to my baby girl in a way I hope you never experience. In January of 2011, at the age of 7, my baby was diagnosed with cancer. Treatment for cancer is brutal (she’s doing well). She is beautiful……….period. But many days not in the way the world sees. Cancer treatment took her hair away, made her swollen and bloated for weeks at a time, and caused more than a few problems academically. But what can never be touched is her heart. For a few months, God gave me the gift of being able to see her as He sees her. We talked about things in a way that I never would have dreamed. We’ve talked about Jesus, about Heaven, and about loving like He does. I would never wish for cancer in her life, but I am grateful for the things that we have learned during the process.


      Amy, what a heart-wrenching and powerful testimony of God’s work in you and in your little girl. I can’t imagine all that you’ve gone through. Cancer sucks. Period. One day Jesus will eradicate it forever. On that day, tears will cease and laughter will roll from deeper within us than we ever imagined possible. Until then, we believe and we wait for his return to make all things new. And we press on in faith one day at a time. Thanks so much for sharing your story with all of us. May God bring healing and peace and joy for your family in the days ahead.


      Wow. What a beautiful thing you shared. Thank you.


        Thanks, Mary Beth for both of your comments. As I said before, we can’t control all the voices they here, but we can make sure they here the voice of Jesus in the midst of it all. Thanks again for your kind notes.


    I really appreciate this article. It bears witness to the truth of Scripture that we are intrinsically valuable because God says so. And he showed us by sending His Son. And we find our only true fulfillment in a relationship with Him. Thanks for saying it so well. God created beauty, and it’s ok to tell my “babies” they are beautiful. But that’s not all I’ll tell them.


    Stolen from my friend Amanda, I pray that I can instill this value in my daughter.


    What a wonderful article and follow-up to the original article which I also read. I saw an idea on one of those nanny shows recently. The nanny suggested writing notes to her daughter on post-it notes about what they find special or what they appreciate about their daughter. I think this is a great tool and drives the information home even more for her to read the note and even save the note to read over and over. Sometimes the parent voice sounds like a broken record and taking time to put it in writing will have more of an impact.


    Thank you for your article, because it’s not just little girls that need reminded of their value. This 29 year old did to. You have blessed my day.


    Thank you for your post. It is a great encouragement to us to see other parents raising their kids by God’s principles. We have 4 daughters and a son and live in the Middle East. I never leave the house that I don’t get a comment about my children. God has compensated us many times over what little we may have sacrificed to live here. One big thing I consider a blessing is that we are not in a culture based on outward beauty. (I am deeply loyal American, please don’t midunderstand me.) We pray for wisdom daily in raising them. One thing I do tell them is that I love them so much, but Jesus loves them more.


      Sara, my friends who grew up in a foreign context seemed to struggle far less with the physical obsession we see in our country, so I get what you are saying. Our brokenness shows itself in many ways, but the gospel is big enough for all of us. Thanks for pointing your kids to Jesus.

    Karen Hoggard Purifoy January 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    AMEN with all caps…my husband died 3 years ago today~ during the time he was dying and on his deathbed, none of us even remotely thought of beauty, money, success, power or fame~ we spoke about, sang about and talked to JESUS. HE, JESUS, was, that night, and remains today, ALL we have and all we need. Thank you for taking the time to write out and encourage “truth” and “real life.”


      Karen, so sorry to hear about your husband’s passing yet so happy to know that he is with the One who loves him more deeply than anyone else. Thank you for the “real life” picture of how Jesus is strong enough to carry a woman through whatever life brings her way. What a difficult honor you have to glorify God even in loss. He sees and knows all, and his great reward waits for you when he has finally made all things new. May he carry and sustain you from now ’til then.


    As the mom of three beautiful little girls, this brought tears to my eyes! Wonderfully written and an important reminder! I regularly tell my girls how much I love them when I tuck them in each night, but I always remind them who loves them more-their wonderful creator!

    Katherine Kamin January 4, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I love this more complete treatment of the topic. When I read the Huffington Post article my reaction was different than some. I absolutely agree that our culture places too much praise (or condemnation) on our bodies. But I grew up with intellectual father who purposely never told my sister or I that we were pretty, for fear that we would over-value our looks. (He actually told me this in my twenties.) Let me just say that withholding praise in any area can do just as much damage as praising one area too much.


      Katherine – love the “other angle” you bring to this issue. That kind of thinking was some of what I was picking up from Huffington article as well. I think this is an area where the first option (praise only beauty) and the second option (praise only mind/perforance) didn’t suffice, and we needed to find a third way.


    Love this. I have a really beautiful daughter (of course don’t we all think our daughters are beautiful), and she hears it a lot. What I try to emphasize at home is that yes, it is nice to be pretty and have other people think that, but what really matters is whether or not our heart is pretty. Do we love? Are we kind? Are we considerate? Do we care about other people? Sometimes she will take about the size of her body, “Momma am I skinny? Momma am I fat?” I tell her that her body is just the size it should be, but that isn’t important. I’m more concerned with the size of her heart.


    Thanks for these thoughts. While I liked some things about the Huffington Post article, this provides a much more complete view. I recently studied 1 Samuel and that whole book teaches that while man looks at the outward appearance, the LORD looks at the heart. “By the grace of God, I am what I am…” 1 Cor. 15:10a


    A friend shared this on Facebook, and I love it. The struggle with physical appearance and self-esteem has been one I’ve faced everyday of my life for a long time, and continues to impact my life into adulthood. As a young woman who (I feel) has a strong academic record and a pretty solid start to my career, I can vouch for the fact that sometimes even feeling fulfilled professionally doesn’t outweigh the negativity caused by self-image issues. Even a sense of accomplishment regarding good morals, ideas, and intelligence can lead to feelings of inadequacy in comparison to others. (And let’s be honest, comparing ourselves to others is a basic means for finding out place in society.)

    While I was raised in a Catholic family, I don’t feel that we were encouraged to have individual relationships with God. We went to church because it was something we “had” to do. Not as I stare down what will become my life after college, I’m wondering what it will take to build that relationship. I’m facing some major life changes, and I know I need God. At the same time, I have no idea how to deepen my faith and even start relying on Him. I’ve been sort of…navigating the world “alone” for so long that I’m unsure, and it’s terrifying. I guess I’m saying all of this in agreement; don’t let your little girls grow up to be insecure, faithless, and lost. I think nurturing this strong relationship with Jesus in little girls is a great step toward finding a place in society where they can feel whole and at peace with who they are.

    Thank you for sharing. I really appreciated reading this.


      Kelly, very much appreciate your thoughtfulness and openness. The good news is that Jesus came to seek us out. God is already at work in you creating a deeper desire to know him. Following Jesus is always a group project. I’d love to help you find a local church that could help you navigate this journey. If you are open to that, email me at with more info on location, and I’ll connect you to someone in your area that would love to help. Blessings.


    I am stopping by via Big Mama. Love this post – especially the last part to Kate. As a mama to 3 girls and 1 baby boy, it is always encouraging to find ways to verbalize to my littles just how much their Father loves them! Thanks for sharing your heart!


    Thank you for addressing the performance (physical, intellectual and moral) issues that we constantly live under today. It is almost unbelieveable to consider that God loves us/me wholly the way I am. Our culture so glorifies personal promotion that it is difficult to rest in this truth. I am a single mother of boys and a girl – I desperately want to communicate the truth, even moreso because it is so shrouded from most sources.


    this was great to read. I had read that first article when it first came out and it rubbed me the wrong way but I couldn’t put my finger on why. I think you nailed it! All those things aren’t going to fill that love tank only God can. Thanks for posting this. I have two girls and two boys so I also hear ya on the commercials…

    Patrick Peringer January 3, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    I don’t have kids yet, but I have nieces and nephews I love to death. Thanks for this article, I shed a tear when reading what you say to Kate. May the Gospel shape everything we do, including how we engage children. God bless you brother.


    Thank you for this. When I read the Huff Post article, I found something in it disturbing but couldn’t pinpoint it. I think you have hit the nail on the head here.


    Great post; thanks. Reminds me of the title track on Shane & Shane’s new “The One You Need” album.


    I have a postcard on the bulletin board next to my desk. It says: “God loves me. There is nothing I can ever do to make Him love me more than He already does. There is nothing I can ever do to make Him love me less than He already does. He loves me perfectly. He loves me so much he wants to spend eternity with me. Who I am in Jesus is the only thing that matters; God loves me, He forgives me and has a wonderful plan for my life, a plan to give me hope and a future. God loves me!”


    A very thoughtful article, as a pastor and a mother of girls, I really appreciated it. Thank you and Merry Christmas


    Jeff…I LOVE this!! Thanks for taking the time to blog your thoughts as a parent…it’s important to share what God shows us AND that we get another prospective in the “myopathy” of this grand responsibility. Here are my thoughts:

    What’s that ratio again? Five positive comments for every negative? WOW…even if it was one to one, the “world” speaks to our children more often than do we, as parents; and it is daunting to try and keep up! So many things coming at our children contrary to our family values.

    I tried to protect them the best I knew how: homeschooling…check, no T.V. and a tight reign on movies…check, Christian community and church…check. Then the unthinkable happened…I was faced with single parenting and my ideals and days at home with them vanished overnight! NOW, how was I going to protect my children AND provide for their physical needs? If it depended on me, they were TOAST!

    God showed up. As an overwhelmed single mom I quickly began to realize how parenting is a futile and losing battle without God–regardless of how many parents live in the household. It is He who protects, He who loves them like they need to be loved, He Who gave His life for each of them, and He who takes ultimate responsibility on how they turn out…but He who also allows us to be part of that process.

    Parenting has been the most exciting and exhilarating ride I have ever been on! Now that most of mine are grown and out of the house, the memories of sleepless nights, exhausted days, irritating moments, and disappointments are fading quickly…what remains is the joy I feel when I look at them, the awe in which I realized, despite my efforts, I barely did anything to raise them, and the warmth I have from my head to my toes that God allowed me to be their mom.

    Grateful this Christmas! ~Susan


      Susan, I appreciate your honesty in the struggle and your joy in your children (who aren’t really children any more). Ultimately, it is God’s work that makes the difference, but don’t ever forget that God works *through* parents too. A parent’s sacrificial love is often the chisel God uses to shape our kids. Merry Christmas to you and yours.


      Susan, I love this! As a single parent for most of my son’s lives, I learned quickly we would not get through it alone. I had to give it all to God. My three boys, all but grown now, are the most amazing kids you will ever meet. Only by the grace of God..

      God bless!

      Joan Goddard of orlando January 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm

      Susan: In light of your comments in raising kids and almost over. As time is moving on with two more left at home, out of six, I am finding a rest and peace in just being faithful where God calls me to speak truth and pray. That the heart changes of those we are raising come about in God’s due time. It is all about God working and not what i have done or not done. Jeff’s insight is so valid on this topic and i trust that the truth spoken to my kids to combat the flying arrows of the world will take root as they each yield to God. All we can do is help paint the picture of what God says about them. I just loved your wording of the last sentence. thanks jeff and susan


    Gabby is certainly a girly girl and will often say “I look pretty”. She seems to put a lot of emphasis on outer beauty. And like Kate, she hears how cute/pretty/etc. she is ALL the time … from strangers, to friends and family. Whenever she seems to be focused on such things I remind her that she does “look nice” but that what really matters is what you look like on the inside … that you love God, love others, share your toys, etc. With so much emphasis on outer beauty it feels like I am fighting a losing battle. Of course, I also do LOTS of praying that she will learn what’s really important! 🙂 Merry Christmas to y’all!


      Carol, I am so glad you and your family took a step of faith to adopt Gabby! What a blessing it is for her to have parents to love her and to pray for her and to point her to Jesus. Merry Christmas!


    Thanks for connecting and passing along the post to your readers. I hope that readers of this post will stop by


    As a mother of a 12-year old daughter and a pastor’s wife in a church with lots of girls that I love I am blessed to read this article. He is everything. That is enough. Thank you for writing this.


    Thanks, Kristen. Sounds like you have lots of great ministry at home and church. Thanks for loving girls with the gospel.


    Thanks for the link from your blog.


    Thanks, Andy for the link from I hope readers here will stop by your blog as well. Talk later.


    Thanks for the link. Grace…


    Thanks for the quote and link. Appreciated your article.

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