By Brenda Yoder
When I was given a girl to raise, something inside me froze. At twenty-three, I was still a girl myself, struggling with my own issues – an eating disorder, insecurities, identity issues, the list went on. If I struggled with my own body issues, how was I going to raise a girl with a healthy self-image?
God’s word says in our weakness, He is strong (1 Corinthians 12:9). Somewhere in my weaknesses and insecurities, God’s strength showed up. Though my struggle with food and weight was a constant battle, I didn’t want my struggle to be my daughter’s. I never wanted her to know the hell I lived in beginning at fourteen when I became anorexic, then bulimic. I wanted her to have a life free of bondage, free of the obsession with weight and food. I wanted her to be healthy, something I’ve diligently pursued as a lifetime principle.
The Holy Spirit showed up when I lacked the skills of raising a girl with a healthy approach to food. My upbringing was ruled by the food and weight issues of my immediate and extended family. I had a love-hate relationship with my body and food, and I didn’t want to pass that onto her. As I watched my daughter graduate from college this month, I marveled at what God has done in giving her a healthy self and body image.
I’m sharing my thoughts on breaking the cycle of disordered eating in this first post of a two-part series. Here are the first principles God taught me in raising a healthy daughter.
- Using the word “healthy” and eliminating the word “fat.” Sometime during her preschool years, I began using the words “unhealthy” or “healthy” rather than “fat” or other words when referring to body image, weight or food. God gave me these words throughout the years to guide food choices and help her understand the importance of balanced eating and body image. When she was in middle school. I remember her using the word “fat.” Fortunately, we had a healthy discussion about body image. I don’t remember the word “fat” being used by her again.
- Complimenting her character rather than physical characteristics. I made a conscious effort to compliment my daughter more on her character, behavior, and manners than her physical appearance. I tried to avoid saying “That makes you look skinny” or similar comments because comments like these make many of us self-conscious (Do I look fat in other outfits?). A comment about my physical appearance as a sixth grader sent me into a tailspin of losing weight as a seventh grader, which turned me into an 88-pound skeleton by eighth grade.
- Being conscious of comments about my physical appearance in front of her. While I still have “I look fat” moments when I look in the mirror, when she was young, I worked hard at not letting her hear about my insecurities or pity-parties. I didn’t want her to know how I struggled with body or self-image. Something must have worked, because it wasn’t until she was in her late teens that she was aware of my history with an eating disorder. God is gracious all the time.
Join me next month for Part two of this article. Until then, how do you raise your daughter with a healthy body image? What things have you found helpful?
Broken and Beautiful: Brenda has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and a BA in Education. As a Parent, Counselor and Educator her ministry is helping moms and daughters navigate the tough stuff of life. Have a question for Brenda? Email her at [email protected]
“The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we — in a less final, less heroic way — be willing to give of ourselves.” Ronald Reagan, Arlington National Cemetery, May 31, 1982
By Kim Chaffin
“The Dating Tightrope” Part 1: Taking the first step
“The Dating Tightrope” Part 2: Finding the balance
In my last post I talked about the guidelines my husband and I had laid out for our kids. Today I want to look at the importance of prayer and how each of our kids required a different approach when having conversations about dating.
Prayer: For years we prayed for our children and the spouses they would have one day. It was in prayer that we found the wisdom we needed to set the guidelines, and the words for some very intense conversations with our kids. Prayer gave us peace to step back and give our children space to grow. Time in prayer for our children is one of the greatest gifts we could give them. I cannot stress how important it is to pray for them to make healthy choices when you are not there to guide them. In prayer, I cried out for God to show my kids the next step in their walk, even when I know they really don’t want to listen to the words of their parents. I hope you are picking up what I am putting down here…. PRAY and PRAY ALWAYS, FOR YOUR KIDS.
Our different approach: No matter how hard we tried to keep things balanced, when speaking to our kids about dating there was a different approach with each of them. We have to talk to our son differently than we talk to our daughter.
With our son, we had to make it clear what our expectations were: how to treat his girlfriend, and how to have respect for her parents and the guidelines they set for their family. We also spoke to him about how he should treat a girl the same way he would demand a young man should treat his sister. As I stated in our guidelines (post 2,) the girl our son is dating is Jesus’ princess; he needs to treat her like that. We encouraged him to really think about the woman God has chosen to be his wife; out of respect for her, he should save the special gift of sex for her. Also, we told him to have respect for the girl he is dating: do not put her in the place of having to tell her husband that she gave the gift, that was meant for him, to someone else. Now, my husband and I know it takes two to tango but we have tried to raise a son that will be a Godly leader. We are proud of our son: he would not date his current girlfriend until he talked to her father first. He met this beautiful young woman during his Jr. year in college and her home town was 6 hours away; he could not just drive over on a whim and ask. It was the end of Christmas break and he wanted to ask before she came back for school, because they really liked each other and he did not want to disrespect her by starting a relationship without her father’s blessing. Because of his college lacrosse practices he could not go in person, so he set a Skype-time with her dad. The next weekend, when he had a break in his practices, he drove the 6 hours to her house to officially meet her parents and ask–again–to date her. He was a broke college student and really could not afford the gas but he knew it was what was expected of him and he knew she deserved that kind of respect.
For years my husband has joked about it being easier with a son, because with a son you are only worried about one [email protected]!$. With a daughter, however, you are worried about all [email protected]!$es. Yes, that is crude but true.
With our daughter, we taught her to have high expectations of the way she deserves to be treated. We told her to set the bar high when choosing the young man that wants to date her, to remember she is Jesus’ princess and, as a princess of the king of kings, she should never feel she is unworthy of being treated with respect. Thankfully, our daughter has a clear picture of how a woman is to be treated because her father treats me with a great amount of love and respect. Our daughter has made it very clear that to even take her to a dance, a young man must go through her father first.
Our kids are now 21 and 18 and we now have the worries of our son having an apartment, along with being in a serious relationship; our daughter is now officially promised, or you could say courting. We are faced with a whole new set of challenges and at times it is hard to say, “these are the rules in our home,” when we know that my son has an apartment of his own and if my daughter is in town, she could go to the apartment of her boyfriend. We would still rather have our kids here in our home where we could chaperon them but we cannot control that anymore. Now more than ever, we rely on PRAYER.
We have been very impressed with some of our kid’s actions; we know they came from the guidelines we set years ago and all the talks we had with them. In my next post I will look at how we have found ways to deal with the apartment issues and how were able to say yes, and give our blessing, when an amazing young man wanted to put a promise ring on our daughter’s finger.
Until next time, don’t forget to pray for your kids and keep the lines of communication open with them.
Put Down The Phone!
by Andrea Mitchell
Like any typical teenager in the pre-texting world I grew up in, I spent hours on the phone, giggling and whispering secrets to my best friend, usually about boys that we liked. It didn’t matter if I’d just spent the weekend at my friend’s house, I’d rush home so I could call her and continue the conversation. My parents were constantly telling me to get off the phone already!
So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me when I got a little too attached to my iPhone late last year. It started off innocently enough. Walking by my command station in my kitchen, I’d sneak a peek at my phone, checking the lock screen for notifications. But soon, those quick peeks became minutes of tapping icons, checking just in case my notifications had been accidently turned off by the toddler. Minutes of me staring at a small screen, ignoring the sounds around me, snapping at my kids if they dared to interrupt my perusal of what was happening on Facebook and Twitter. And Pinterest. And Instagram. And Facebook again.
It didn’t hit me how this was affecting our family until the day I noticed that right beside me were my son and daughter, crowding the same small space, “checking” their own devices, just like I was.
But it really, really didn’t hit me until the day I caught myself not listening to my daughter as she told me something important to her. When I realized I had brushed her off in favour of my phone, I lowered it, apologized, and asked her to repeat herself. But she was understandably frustrated and let the conversation go.
That’s when I knew I had to make some changes. Immediately.
I tend to be an all-or-nothing kind of gal, but I knew that forsaking all social media forever was not realistic. Rather, I made a few small changes that, while difficult in the beginning, have reaped a large harvest of good.
Assess which social media is beneficial and ditch the rest.
As a blogger, it’s tempting to be on every single social media outlet out there. And while it was helpful for me to make connections, I was weary from keeping up with them. I decided to go against the norm and do less. I deactivated accounts, removed apps from my phone, and focused on the couple that I actually enjoy using. Not only did it free up oodles of time, there is less clutter in my mind now that I have less information to process in a day.
Set time boundaries and put the phone away.
I used to get up in the morning, grab my phone and scroll through my notifications as I stumbled down the hallway on my way to make coffee. I’d grab it while waiting for the kids’ toast to pop, check it before leaving the house to drop them off at school, check it again on my way in the house…. any spare moment seemed to find me with my phone in hand, morning and night.
Now, I purposefully leave my phone on its charger in my room until it’s time to take the kids to school. When the kids get home, I put it back in my room and close the door. I intentionally choose to focus on my kids rather than my device. And with less social media on my phone, there’s very little to check anyway!
Set the example, but give yourself some grace.
Some days are easy (like the ones I’m too busy chasing a toddler to catch my breath), and some days I have a legitimate need to keep my phone close by. I am a work in progress and each day is a journey.
But what keeps me going is the difference my small changes have already made on our family. My kids are less prone to checking their own devices, and more likely to engage in conversation about their days. I find we are spending more time together, as I’m not hiding in the office on my computer or hunched in a corner with my phone; I’m now available. I’ve even discovered that my kids, in their preteen and teen years, really do still want to spend time with me (even if they might not admit it)!
But most of all, I’m learning what’s truly important. I was so afraid of missing out of whatever was happening online that I really was missing out on what was happening in my home. I’m sad that I can’t get those days back, but I am so thankful we have today and that my kids have forgiven me.
And not only that, with my hands free of my phone, there’s a lot more room for one of their hands instead.
There’s no app for the happiness and joy that hand fills my heart with.
By Nancy Bentz
If it weren’t for shame, sometimes there would be no place to hide! Or so our wounded hearts think…
Just over three weeks ago, I gave a keynote talk on the subject of shame at the Whatever Girls Live One-Day Event (a great first conference for Whatever Girls with kudos to founder and president Erin Bishop!).
Aside from my colorful slides that were nearly blacked out (urg…) and a delayed keynote start with a delayed keynote ending that led to a delayed lunch (all potential for failing to practice the first of the three signposts I shared about overcoming shame…), things came off relatively well throughout the day!
After the fact, after some sleep, and after lotsa coffee – I decided to recap the three signposts for the benefit of all our readers. Here, then, are three safe hiding places for our heart:
SIGNPOST #1 – CONCEALED
Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow and CONCEALED me in his quiver.
Isaiah 49:1-2 (NIV)
This signpost tells us that:
- God knew you BEFORE you were born – which is really concealed!
- He already called you and spoke your name even before your parents did. Love that.
- He made your mouth, the means through which the words you speak would come forth.
- Proverbs 18:21 tells us that the words we speak bring life or death and we eat the fruit of them.
Part of overcoming shame is learning to speak words of life.
First to ourselves and also to others.
CONCEALED in God’s quiver was the first safe hiding place for your heart. It still is.
SIGNPOST #2 – REVEALED
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life)
are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us
and in us and for us and conferred on us!
Romans 8:18 (AMP)
This signpost is important because it marks the place where we begin to grow and understand that our life is seen – in the mirror and by others.
Whether we like it or not, or intend it or not, shame is like smudges on the pages of our life story. When we suffer, shame often kicks in because of what we feel, think and tell ourselves in the middle of the suffering. Whenever we think ourselves deficient, less than, defective, not enough…and live out of the strength and power of those messages, we’re scribbling shame smudges all over our heart and our story.
It’s just as damaging when it is someone else speaking shame-based messages to us. No doubt David made some judgments against his father, Jesse, when his own father referred to him as “The runt. The youngest. The one lesser than his brothers.” Wow. That’s some shame-based message.
Yet David had been keeping company out in the field not only with the dumb sheep, but the wise Lord. David’s heavenly Father chose him as a king for Himself first and then for all Israel. Hand-picked by God.
It must have made a deep impression upon David’s heart. Later, he found himself running for his life and hiding in a dark cave. Yet he came out of that cave with “treasures of darkness” that minister solace and encouragement to our souls today: David’s beloved, real, gritty Psalms, wherein he kept a strong handle on the purpose of suffering. It was part of the journey on his way to God’s revealed glory.
He was chosen, anointed, and sealed to be king one day. David trusted and believed that God was the only safe hiding place for his heart.
This twin of the first signpost – learning to speak words of life – brings with it a powerful enabling grace:
Part of overcoming shame is changing our thinking about life’s suffering.
Suffering does not compare with the glory to be revealed.
REVEALED – chosen by God first for Himself, then revealed to and for others is the second safe hiding place for your heart.
SIGNPOST #3 – SEALED
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.
He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us,
and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
II Cor. 1:21-22 (TNIV)
Part of overcoming shame is accepting we are not our own.
We have been bought with a price.
I Cor. 6:19-20
SEALED – with God’s stamp that says, “This one’s Mine!” is the third safe hiding place for your heart.
Christ overcame. Owned by God; so can we.