Parenting a pre-teen girl is not for the faint of heart. Girls are going through physical changes, and the world is beginning to tempt them with social media. It’s a time when their definitions of beauty and self-worth are being formed.
I pondered this age of discovery when my daughter was just a toddler, knowing it would be a time that would shape her. I knew that helping her navigate this stage could make, or break, her identity and her heart.
The biggest challenges I have found with girls at this age is dealing with all of the drama! It seems that no matter how we encourage our daughters to seek their value from the Lord, they are lured by gossip and divisiveness, and as leaders emerge, friendships divide.
I am continuously asking girls to be peacemakers and use their leadership to be a catalyst for unity. This discussion begins with taking a look at the heart, continues with understanding the destructive power of the tongue, and ends with the call to be peacemakers.
1) What comes out of the mouth reveals what’s in the heart
It is so easy for pre-teen girls to point fingers at all of the wrongs of others, yet ignore their part in the conflict. It’s important to share with your daughters that what comes out of their mouths reveals the truth of what’s happening in their hearts.
This age brings a great deal of conversation, mostly comparing and contrasting themselves to other girls, and it is a window into what is happening within your daughter’s heart. Take this opportunity to listen and teach your daughter to evaluate her heart in her daily interactions.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. - Luke 6:45 (NIV)
2) God looks at the heart
Often, we do all of the right things, but we have it all wrong in our hearts. A girl who looks perfect on the outside is most likely struggling with her own insecurities, self-righteousness, or jealously on the inside.
Take the time to teach your daughter to evaluate the state of her own heart in every situation. Whether she is dealing with division, comparing herself to others or dabbling in social media.
The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. It may seem fruitless right now, but teaching your daughter the lasting value of walking in the Spirit, versus the flesh, can improve the state of her heart and strengthen her walk with the Lord.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. - 1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV)
3) Careless whispers
The saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words may never hurt me” is a fallacy. The tongue can be edifying or destructive. Like a forest fire, a careless word can ruin a reputation, destroy a friendship or break a heart.
It’s important to teach your daughter to T.H.I.N.K. before she speaks. To ask herself, “Is what I am about to say Thoughtful, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary or Kind?” T.H.I.N.K. It will provide her an opportunity to both pause and consider her words, and likewise check the state of her heart and her intentions.
A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything---or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech, we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke…- James 3:5-6 (MSG)
4) Be a catalyst for good
Like a spark that can start a forest fire, an act of kindness can cover an offense. It’s hard work, but encouraging your daughter to practice humility, refuse to be offended, and lead in righteousness will produce peace for her in the end. Putting others needs before hers, setting aside her need to be right, and leading by a gentle and quiet spirit can turn around most conflict that comes her way.
We are called to model these behaviors in our own lives, and be the example that our girls so desperately need in this reality TV generation.
Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. - James 3:17(MSG)
5) Strength in being a peacemaker
A peacemaker is not a peacekeeper. Please do not confuse the two. A peacekeeper is someone who does not speak up, turns her back, is passive, and sacrifices her self-interest to avoid conflict. Peacekeeping appear to bring peace, but in reality, it slowly erodes a girl’s heart as they choose security over righteousness.
In contrast, a peacemaker is someone who is active in resolving conflict, not avoiding it. She is someone who practices forgiveness, seeks reconciliation, speaks the truth in love and is willing to be uncomfortable in order to make things right with her friends.
Peacemaking requires courage, and it’s a worthy pursuit for young women to practice, little by little.
In the end, peacemaking creates deeper friendships, builds trust and grows our daughters closer to finding their identity in Christ.
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. - James 3:18 (NIV)