Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Raising boys AND girls of value

When I read something that I am drawn to, I cannot help but think about it throughout the day. And by drawn to, I mean... probably differing opinions. I think about what my response would be to that person if we met in real life, the discussion that we would have, and possibly the disagreements that would be heard. No fighting, no arguing, just talking over a serious topic.

You see, I do not believe in putting people down, or completely ignoring what they say. I think a good debate is healthy for all. And stating something from a different perspective is always good for the brain. And the heart.

And recently, I have had difficulty turning my back on the raising our "girls" right debate. Ahem. I purposefully didn't include the "raising our sons" in that statement because most of the debate has been around the lines of young girls that put bad thoughts into young boys' heads based on what they wear {or don't wear}, and images that they post. Instead of focusing on the big issue at hand. Raising all children, male and female, with equal respect for one another.

Let me explain.

In the past few months, I have read a few articles discussing this very talk. Mothers, Christian mothers, discuss how they are raising their boys. Mothers who say that they have to "cover their son's eyes" when they walk in Target because of the big ad hanging above the women's lingerie section of the store showing a women in.... a bra. "How can I bring my son up with morals when he is exposed to the indecency in places we shop." She goes on to say that women need to think about men out there {who cannot control their sexual thoughts} and not make it so hard for them. Women are making it hard for men. They're making it hard for mothers raising boys. If they would just cover up.......{that's the solution}.

Another one mentioning the need to delete these girls' from their sons' instagram or facebook accounts because they too do not want their sons to see these sort of images. To undress the girl with his eyes. To have indecent thoughts about them. And these girls need to have better respect for themselves, become a woman that is better than that, and to not tempt these young boys with their sexuality. She tells the girls that they have time to fix their errors, that they have time to be forgiven and maybe let in into her sons' lives, but most likely.... not.

You see, I get it. I understand all these things and I don't think any of it is necessarily wrong. Yes, the social media {and media in general} has sexualized the human body and it's what sells. It is what they say makes men {and women} feel better about themselves and it's around us in all aspects of our lives. The television. The local stores. Our schools. Parks. The beaches. And anywhere else that you may encounter another human being. Yes. I get that it will be out there, and thus there is greater pressure placed on parents to want to teach our children to value themselves on a deeper level than just their looks.

Do I think girls need to cover up more? Sure. Do I think they shouldn't be posting exposed pictures of themselves? Sure. I probably wouldn't let my child have instagram period... but that's another post.

You see, I agree with all this.

However, big however here, I just don't get it. I do not agree with blaming a girl, a woman, anyone that is a female for what a boy, a man, or any male is thinking. I do not agree with shaming and bringing a person down based on these said looks. I do not agree with teaching our sons to look the other way, deleting these people out of their lives, and teaching them that there are better women out there.

I just don't agree.

I believe in teaching my son, our sons, that all women are beautiful. That the human body is beautiful. That a woman should never be taken for granted and she is not to be viewed as eye candy for a man. That respecting women comes first and foremost, and to see beyond what society illustrates the image of a beautiful woman, a "sexy" woman, or an indecent woman.

One of the best comments I read on one of the articles recently went something like this:

"Two men were walking down the street. A girl walked by them with a short mini skirt. The first man said to his friend, "Did you see how short that skirt was?" And the other man replied, "No, I was too busy looking at her beautiful smile."

Yes. Yes. Yes. That's how I want my son, our sons, all sons out there to view women. Regardless of their attire, or lack of it, I want them to focus on the other things that make a person beautiful.  Yes, it's hard for them to not see those other things. Yes, they may have thoughts that they may not control. And yes, most boys and men will notice a woman's body in a sexual manner. Unless sheltered behind closed doors in their home, there just is no way to avoid seeing girls and young women in that light.

But to see beyond it. That's the message we want to send to those men. And women.

To not just reject a person from what they see on the outside. To actually take the time and get to know them. Hear their story. Let them bring them in. And even if you don't get to know them? Don't assume that you do.

There is a bigger lesson to be said about all this. That we can point fingers all we want. We can blame whoever we want. Girls. Boys. The media. Our schools. Our friends and neighbors. But at the end of the day? Who is to say who's fault it is. Who is to say that our young boys wouldn't have those thoughts if girls weren't dressing the way they do. Who is to say that those girls are not fit to be the woman for their son because an image that is posted. Who is to say who is better than the other.

At the end of the day, raising our children, both men and women to see beyond outward appearances will take them so much further in life. To not close off and shelter away things that they don't agree with. Instead, learn, discover, and do more letting in. Maybe that person just wants to be heard. Maybe that person just wants to be saved. Maybe that person just needs a friend.

Look, I don't have teenage sons. I don't have teenage daughters. I do have a son and a daughter, and regardless of their sex, and regardless of their age, there is an important part of respect that I hope to instill in their hearts and minds.

To never judge a person by their outward appearance, to never blame others for our actions and thoughts, and to always hold ourselves accountable in all areas of life.

In other words....don't point fingers. 
                              Unless you're staring at the mirror.


  1. I really understand where you're coming from. The way a girl dresses is no excuse for a man's sin. But, as a Christian, we are called to lay down our lives for others, because that's what Jesus has done for us. That means laying down my own desires {style, fashion, desire for attention, etc} for others. It is not my fault that men tend to have sexual thoughts, but if I can help them honor God with their thoughts, I will do everything I can. I don't want to be a stumbling block for my brothers.

    I really believe God has called us to lay down our rights. In our culture people get so fired up about their rights. Jesus laid down his own life for me...and I'm called to reflect Him even in how I dress.

    Here's a great post on this: http://www.thenatos.com/2012/07/problem-with-looking-sexy-part-dos.html

    1. Lorraine you have made great points that I do not disagree with. That is why I wrote about raising BOTH men and girls of value. Because as Christians, we are called to not judge and to forgive. My focus was simply that in this post. I want to raise my sons to respect all women, regardless of the amount of clothing she has on her skin {or lack of}.

      Yes, God has called us to lay down our rights, but which rights are more important than others? The right for a man not to be exposed to sexual desire? Or the right for a woman not to be judged {and in some cases sexually assaulted... due to her "attire"}. I think we are not in a position to say.

      That's why it is important to raise our children {both boys and girls} to respect one another's gender. In all forms.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. I actually had a similar reaction to that post--I felt like the tone of blame and shame was just really unproductive. I love Kristen Howerton's response: http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/2013/09/on-respect-responsibility-and-mrs-halls.html

    1. I love her and her post! Thank you for sharing Anne!

  3. I enjoyed your post, and I do agree with you to a certain point. We shouldn't write people off completely for making some poor decisions or based on looks, however, I do think some of what was said in the origninal post is worth noting. Mrs. Hall did state that she thought these girls were generally sweet and intelligent, and that the image of them in towels for the world was not reflecting what she had seen of their character. There is also some practicality to parenting with caution. A man in a pulled up hoodie in an alley may very well try to rob you, or a young woman who acts provocatively is much more likely to have some sort of STD. Yes, those comments are based on judging another person, but being cautious could save your kids some serious harm. I don't have all the answers, but I think to say be open to everyone with out a degree of caution may not be completely right either.

    1. Amanda, you said exactly what I said. "These girls are generally sweet and intelligent, and the image of them in a towel does not reflect who they are." ABSOLUTELY.

      A guy in a hoodie in an alley and a woman acting provocatively is not the point of this at all. The point is being accountable for one owns actions.

      My son can NEVER use the excuse "It's that other woman's fault that he got the STD from her... she was provocative and he couldn't resist."

      Just like he would not be allowed to say.."Mom, I saw that picture of the girl in her towel and I just could not resist the urge to touch her, it's her fault."

      Does that make sense?

      Yes, caution is important, and the world is a sick and dangerous place. But one situation does not compare to the next.

      I hope I reflected my thoughts in an understanding manner. Thank you for sharing yours.

  4. I completely understand your point and agree. Taking responsibility for their action is very important, that's something I want my boys to understand very clearly. They shouldn't judge or accuse others for their mistakes. Unfortunately the world that we live in today is about appearance and showing off our bodies. So like it or not man will be expose to many things and they shouldn't blame the opposite sex for their thoughts.

    I do agree however that young woman and even some adults should think twice about what they wear before leaving their house. Not because they need to think about helping men control their thoughts but for self respect. Because going out like that will not only give men, and others, reasons to talk them down but that's a way to prevent assault as well. Which is becoming more frequent these days. Still this just brings us up to the issue at hand. And so I quote you "which rights are more important than others? The right for a man not to be exposed to sexual desire? Or the right for a woman not to be judged {and in some cases sexually assaulted... due to her "attire". This sounds like a never ending dilemma.

    1. Absolutely! Self respect going both ways. Everyone should be aware of their actions, their dress, and accountability.

      Great points!

  5. Thank you for posting this. She should instead teach her sons that they WILL be exposed to not only provocative images during their life, but also provocative women. She should teach that not every situation that may be "unchristian" can be "deleted" as easily a Facebook friend. Kind of interesting that she posts pictures in the very same post of her boys in swim trunks on the beach. So, I just have to imagine that if that were a 17 year old girl sitting on her beach with her little backside covered by a string bikini facing the camera that would probably be indecent. Why? Because she is a woman. Mrs. Hall's point of view is very one-sided and unfortunate.


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