A while back, Matthew Perryman Jones sent out a tweet saying there was a princess party in his living room. You could tell the tweet went out from a moment of pure delight. How could you not delight in that picture? And earlier yesterday morning, I read a quote from John Sowers’ book Fatherless Generation about how quickly our girls wilt when their fathers leave, how they long to know they are beautiful and wanted and have the God-given power to endear a man. And for obvious reasons, the picture and the quote struck me pretty hard.
Young men and young women really do want the same things; to know they are important, to know they matter, to know they can impact the world, to know they are wanted and so on. Of course, these desires are expressed in different ways, but children of both sexes gain early on a confidence that they are on the earth for a reason and not as a mistake. And they don’t learn this from a book, not even from the Bible. The idea we matter is more important to learn in childhood than in any other stage. And they learn from adults, from whether or not they get off the phone, make eye contact, get mad too quickly, love them enough to stay married to their mom, love them enough to protect them from danger, even from themselves. The message God wants to communicate to children is entrusted to you, to the way you look at them or celebrate them when they walk into a room. If they get that message, the Bible will confirm it for the rest of their lives. And if they don’t, they’ll struggle to believe the overwhelming obviousness of God’s love.
The acclaimed poet Maya Angelou, when asked how she had become such a great poet, responded by saying she’d become a great poet because when she was a little girl, her father’s eyes lit up when she walked into the room.
Love your sons. Love your daughters. Teach them what’s already true; that they are delightful.
(this is a re-post from the archives)