The night before the first day of school, my brother-in-law asked my 6 year old niece if she needed help selecting an outfit for said first day of school. Like only a bright-eyed, energetic little girl can do, she didn’t miss a beat as she responded “Dad! I’ve had it planned out since July!” My brother-in-law is a wise man. He smiled quietly and instead proceeded to help her put her hair in curlers in preparation of the big day on the horizon.
I share this story because it is an excellent example of a father affirming his daughter’s desire to be a girl. It’s no surprise that girls like to look nice – especially on the first day of school. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as it doesn’t go to extremes.
Contrast this example to my nine year old nephew, who didn’t so much as want a new pair of blue jeans for the start of school. He probably hasn’t given much thought to what he’ll wear in the morning, much less been planning it out for weeks. What he wanted instead was to camp overnight in the back yard with his best friends a few nights before school started. His request was granted, and my brother-in-law patiently walked the boys through how to set up the tent and “make camp”. My sister and brother-in-law found themselves getting little sleep as they quieted excited boys long into the night and helped them shuffle inside in the early morning after getting frightened.
Both are good examples of encouraging kids to be as God made them – male or female. There are a lot of messages in our culture right now trying to tell children they should be confused about their gender. That it’s right to question whether they feel like being a boy or a girl. That if you want to do “typical girl things” or “typical boy things” you are silly and predictable. Or, on the other (and far more deceitful) hand, that if you are male and don’t want to camp in the back yard, there is something wrong about you and probably means you have homosexual tendencies. So it’s best to go ahead and embrace this “fact” about yourself while you’re young. Either way, kids are being pushed to question the sex God made them to be.
Whether you have an all-girl girl or a tomboy, you can affirm your daughter’s feminine qualities. Maybe your tomboy doesn’t fret over what she’s going to wear the first day of school, but does fret over the injured bird she has found and is trying to nurse back to health. You could compliment her on her nurturing skills in this situation. (You could also mention that she looks beautiful with her hair pulled back.)
Maybe you have a boy who’s more inclined toward the arts than things like wrestling or camping. You could compliment him on his initiative to teach himself how to draw. Or on his desire to keep going with his studies even when the other kids at school tease him for not being good at football. It takes a lot of courage to go against the crowd.
The point is God is all about diversity. There are many expressions of male and female-ness, just as there are many expressions of skin color. Yet we are all made in God’s image, and even in this great diversity He has shown us, there are common themes. The same rings true with sex.
I encourage you to find ways to affirm your child’s gender – especially as school starts and they are in unfamiliar situations. The affirming you do at home will carry with them through the school day.
– Megan Briggs