Nurturing Our Tween Girls

When talking recently with a woman who heads a ministry to hurting women, she told me that two of the most common complaints she hears are, “My mother wasn’t there for me,” or “My mother didn’t have time for me.” I would like to add to that this refrain I’ve often heard from women myself, “I had a godly mother. I knew she loved me, but I couldn’t talk to her about issues.”

The first two statements are likely a result of those women’s mothers never having been nurtured themselves. They had no model to follow. The third statement could be a result of not having been nurtured herself but also add to it the element of fear—fear that her daughter would blow it and not measure up. This is especially common in legalistic settings where this fear leads to rule upon rule being enforced without the nurturing explanation needed for the “why” of it. Sadly, many girls in such circumstances eventually chuck it all when on their own, for they had merely obeyed like robots but didn’t embrace the truths behind the “whys” for themselves.

I remember how my mother wanted to guard me from growing up too fast. It was during the 50’s and 60’s when the sexual revolution was in sway. A common refrain around our home was, “You’re too young for that!” I recall the time I told her in seventh grade that I thought a particular boy was cute. She snapped, “You’re too young to have a boyfriend!” Gulp…End of conversation. I made a mental note: “Don’t talk to Mother about boys.”

The fear my parents felt sifted down from them to us kids, coming across as if it were bad to be interested in the opposite sex—maybe even naughty. Like so many others, they loved their kids and didn’t know the best way to handle the societal pulls upon them. There was no Focus on the Family or Dr. Dobson back then. Dr. Spock, a humanistic pediatrician, was the parenting guru of the day. I applaud my parents for doing their best and for fighting to keep us from being swallowed up by the sexual revolution and all it entailed. Interestingly enough, it was my mother who eventually introduced me to James Dobson and the Focus on the Family ministry years later. Her heart was always in the right place.

One of the best books written to help in this area of nurturing our young girls was written by Dannah Gresh, who herself has raised two daughters in today’s culture. Her book entitled Six Ways to Keep the ‘Little’ in Your Girl is a wonderful handbook of helps. It is packed with important facts for moms to know about the culture of today and how to navigate raising a daughter within it.

Dannah has even studied scientific research and clearly explains key development of the brain at this pre-puberty stage and, therefore, the advantage of helping a girl understand now, at this age, the “why” on many issues she’ll face in years ahead. It’s not written in a dry textbook manner but with color and warmth and hope! She discusses how to nurture and gives mother/daughter “date night” ideas. She’s especially helpful with the boy-girl interests. (How my mother would have loved this book when she raised her kids.)

Dannah has a ministry for mothers and tween daughters found at Secretkeepergirl.com. Events are held around the country with fun themes. Last year’s theme was “Crazy Hair.” A few years ago it was a pajama theme, and mothers and daughters donned pj’s as they went together! (You just KNOW how much a tween girl would love that!) I inquired of young moms who took their daughters to one of these events and, boy, did they sing its praise. They are saving up to go again. What a great gift this could be! (Wink, wink, Grandparents!)

This particular book was written five years ago, but is still pertinent today and selling off the shelves. In fact, I recently went to a Christian bookstore to purchase one and learned they’d just sold their last copy and were ordering more.

I’m so thankful for Dannah, her vision, and her ministry. God is raising up many such people for this day and time. We don’t have to “go it alone” as parents. And we, whose children are out of the nest, can take an interest in those coming along behind. We can nurture these young parents. It’s a privilege.

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