I don’t know if this is exactly what “your” husband wants you to know, but this has been on my hubby’s heart and he wanted to share. Clearly the hubby and I are thinking alike lately in what it means to live in a way that impacts our daughters. This post actually gave me some food for thought as well….
When I first asked Jill to marry me, there were many facets of her character that I already deeply admired. However, being at a different stage of life, it never occurred to me that she someday would serve as a role model for our daughters and son. “Role Model For Kids” isn’t on the metaphorical checklist of qualities that most people look for in a spouse, but it should be. Likewise, I remember the first time that I saw my kids mimicking my behavior and realized that I too would need to somehow serve as a role model for our kids – what a sobering thought!
When it comes to modeling behavior, I have had many outstanding role models, including my own parents and in-laws, and I’m also a history nerd. I love reading biographies of people who have impacted the world in one way or another. One of our company’s leaders once told me to observe the qualities of others and to “Velcro the qualities you admire to yourself”, so I suppose that on some level I’m deconstructing these folks as I read.
Our oldest daughter often asks me about the people in these books, and I like to tell her what I find interesting about them, which has made me aware that she’s now looking beyond me to the people that I admire. Recently it’s occurred to me that I’ve never read a biography of a woman and I may be missing an opportunity.
I have begun to think more and more about the female role models beyond Jill that my girls will emulate (and my son will hopefully respect) as they grow older. Fortunately, their mom is the best role model I can imagine (I don’t say that flippantly) but they’re bound to encounter other females along the way who will shape their perspective of what makes a “cool” female, and most girls go through phases where they don’t want to be their moms, even if they’ve got the coolest one on Earth.
All this to say that I think our kids are apt to admire those that their parents like. I know that I have a special place in my heart for authors and musicians and others that were celebrated in our family because I know that my mom or dad liked them. This can be a good thing or a bad thing.
An example… Katy Perry will soon be in Grand Rapids for a concert, and I’ve been shocked at how many moms are trying to get their young girls tickets. Perry’s current hit celebrates the story of young teenage girls who binge-drink, get naked, have a three-some before blacking out, and then are determined to “do it again” next Friday. At the risk of sounding judgmental, what a terrible choice for a “family favorite!” Personally, I think her music is potentially more damaging than hardcore, gangster rap because at least rappers present their music for what it is while Katy Perry candy-coats her lyrics it in syrupy melodies that will surely be played at more than one middle-school sleepover this weekend.
And don’t think I’m picking on moms, because I think that dads often pose a bigger hazard. How many men hope that their daughters turn into Godly, respectable women while they spend their leisure time fixed on women who are the opposite? I have learned to recognize that if I turn my head to check out a woman wearing a short skirt that my momentary infatuation will not necessarily go unnoticed by my little ones. In doing what we do, dads often send a message to their kids that if women really want to capture the interest of a man like their dad that they’d do better showing-off cleavage than dressing like their mommy.
But there’s a HUGE opportunity here in marriage. As couples, we can spend time talking about who we choose to celebrate. And the good news is, when it comes to women there are LOTS of talented, unsung women doing incredible things in music, politics, ministry and beyond. Let’s recognize early in our marriages that when we become “fans” of someone, we bring those people into the growing culture that we’re building within our family.
It’s worth asking “What kind of women do we both really respect?” and “Who are other historical and contemporary Deborahs and Esthers?” Surely there are women that have changed the world and who might even have a few qualities that I should Velcro to myself. Personally, I’ve decided to pick out a new biography of an unheralded female world-changer the next time I’m at the bookstore, and as I read it, I’ll take some time to tell my kids all about her.