Mom: The Primary Influence in a Girl's Life
- Friday, October 14, 2005
I picked up the latest copy of a popular teen magazine the other day. I was looking for someone, but I couldn’t find her.
Here’s what I did find: "419 ways to be beautiful" (what kind of random number is that?), foolproof ways to "get great hair," and my "love horoscope." The cover was plastered with a close-up of — surprise, surprise — a beautiful actress. What more could a girl want than advice on love, hair, beauty, and some gossip about a celebrity? At least that’s what the editors seem to assume is the base level of a teenage girl’s interests.
I was looking for Mom, but I couldn’t find her. She didn’t even make the back page. From boyfriends to prom dresses, from acne to hairstyles, Mom was nowhere to be found. There were plenty of friends and plenty of boys and plenty of advice from "experts." They even had a kind of "phone-a-mom" replacement named Julie (not her real name), but no Mom.
It made me mad. I wanted to have my own little magazine-burning right there in the bookstore. I wanted to write a letter to the editor. But that wouldn’t do any good. Besides, it’s not only magazines. Television, movies, and other media for teens frequently portray a motherless society. The world they depict is largely peer-centered with a few mom-replacements on the side.
But girls have been duped by the cultural lie that Mom doesn’t understand and can’t relate. Of course, she’s good for making dinner, buying school supplies, and driving them to and from friends’ houses and swim meets. But go to her for advice? Look to her for support? This hasn’t occurred to them. Sad to say, many young women miss out on one of God’s main channels of wisdom, comfort, and blessing just when they need it most.
Adding to the problem, many moms have faded into the background without complaint. They think being an "understanding" mom entails giving their daughters space, encouraging their peer relationships, and not prying too much into their personal lives. They just try to love their daughters in hopes that they’ll open up someday. These moms are hesitant to exercise their authority or get involved in their daughters’ lives.
This approach is not limited to our ungodly culture. It’s increasingly common in the church as well. One sincere and godly woman who has a wonderful ministry to girls nevertheless resigns herself to this faulty view when she writes, "The influence of positive peer relations in a group of girls cannot be overemphasized. A parent’s influence during adolescence is limited. Not all girls will allow their parents to make a difference in their lives at this time. Friends will have the greatest impact."1
Bringing Mom's Role into Focus
However, if we as mothers and daughters want to speak the language of biblical womanhood, we must start by bringing Mom’s role into focus. Although mom-as-bystander is a common notion, I want to introduce you to an alternative viewpoint: God’s view of parents as presented in the Bible.
In His Word, God opens up a whole, new exciting world of parent-child relating. Verse after verse insists that Mom and Dad play an active and primary role in their children’s lives. Take Proverbs as an example. It fairly explodes with instructions to the son [and daughter] to "Hear . . . your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching" and to "receive [your parents’] words and treasure . . . [their] commandments" (Prov. 1:8; 2:1; 3:1; 4:1, 10, 20, etc.).
Author Paul Tripp comments, "God essentially says this: ‘I have designed the family to be my primary learning community. There is no better context to teach the truths that need to be taught so that my people would live the way they should live’"2 (emphasis added).
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