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How Should We Raise Our Daughters?

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Today, I would like to talk about how we can raise our daughters so they won’t be victims of domestic violence and rape.

I will begin by talking about different ways people can view the problem of domestic violence in our country. The best estimate at this time is that 1 out of every 4 American women will be abused by a boyfriend or husband in her lifetime[1]. Many believe the ratio is even higher. What about rape? 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).[2] These are staggering statistics.

On December 14, 2012, Allen Corben wrote about two ways to view the problem of domestic violence on NCADV’s Facebook page. Allen is co-chair of NOMAS, (National Organization for Men Against Sexism). He is also on staff at the Fuller Theological Seminary.

According to Allen, we can look at the problem of men committing domestic violence against their partners in one of two ways:

  1. A “troubles analysis” says that individual men were abused as children, are uneducated in appropriate ways to behave, or were provoked by their out-of-control partners.

  2. An “issues analysis” says that there is a much larger problem in our society as a whole. This analysis says that our society teaches it is OK for men to use violence to get what they want from women. Also, the women in our society are taught violence is normal, and they should accept this type of behavior.

Allen finishes his statements by saying:

“NCADV understands sexism and patriarchy are the primary causes of men’s DV committed against women. Men’s broken childhood, lack of communication skills, need for impulse control and all those other possibilities are [only] contributing factors…”

What does Allen mean by sexism and patriarchy?

Basically, he means there is a belief in our society that men have the right to control the women in their lives, and even women in general, by any means available to them. Allen believes in our society, “there is a male privilege which can be exercised, that one bends the will of another by influence first, persuasion next, manipulation where necessary, and violence as either deterrent or punishment when unavoidable…”

Worse, he believes that women in our society are taught that being treated this way is “normal,” and something that should be accepted without complaint.

Last November I wrote a blog entitled How Can We PREVENT Domestic Violence? Here is the link. In that blog, I said I felt the best way to prevent domestic violence in the future was to raise sons who would not be abusers. I still believe this. But how can we protect our DAUGHTERS from those sons who are NOT raised to respect women?

My counselor recently suggested I read a book called, “Good Women Get Angry: A Woman’s Guide to Handling Anger, Depression, Anxiety and Stress”[3] by Gary J. Oliver, Ph.D, and H. Norman Wright, Christian authors. One of the premises of the book is that girls in our society are taught that getting angry is “unfeminine”, and not “nice”. If one were to view a businessman yelling in a conference room, most people would think he was “strong”. If they were to see a businesswoman behaving the exact same way, most people would assume she was a b____h.

My counselor often suggests I encourage my daughters to “have a voice” in our home. What does she mean by this? She means that, even when my teen daughters disagree with me, let them state their views, LOUDLY at times. She also means allowing them to sometimes tell me NO if I cross their (reasonable) boundaries. This was NOT how I was raised. Of course …. I ended up in an abusive marriage.

And that IS the point.

If we allow our daughters to voice their strong opinions in our home, perhaps they won’t remain quiet when a young man is disrespectful to them on a first date, calls them names on the second, and slaps them on the third. No, if we give our daughters a voice, there won’t BE any second date.

If we allow our daughters to say ‘NO’ when their boundaries have been trampled, perhaps they won’t “be quiet” when a boyfriend tries to “go too far” in the back seat of a car, and we won’t have to find out the next morning “that nice boy” raped our 15-year-old.

Does this mean that we let our daughters be disrespectful to us, be their own bosses, and rule our homes? Of course not. This won’t do them any good. But it could mean we allow our teen daughters to choose to wear that ugly shirt we hate. It might mean we allow them to make their own meal if they don’t like what we have cooked, as long as they join the family at the table. And it might mean they spend part of the day in their room if the aunt they “can’t stand” is spending the day with mom.

What does the God of the Universe think about the worth of our daughters? People often think because some Christian churches seem to relegate women to subservient positions, that Jesus was prejudiced against women. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Take a look at a few portions of the bible for proof:

John 4:6-26 – The woman at the well. Jesus spoke to this Samaritan woman, (Samaritans were arch enemies of Jews) who was so much an outcast that she had to go to draw water from the well in the heat of the day, when no self-respecting woman would likely be there.

John 8:3-11 – Jesus rescued a woman caught in the act of adultery. Judgmental Pharisees had brought her to Jesus in order to have her stoned, (of course the man she was sleeping with was nowhere in sight). Jesus says for those who are “without sin” to “be the first to throw a stone at her.” When everyone leaves, he tells the woman he does not condemn her.

Luke 7:36 – 50 – Jesus allows a  “sinful” woman to pour her tears on his feet, and dry them with her hair. He reminds the self-righteous men at the table that they didn’t bother to give him water for his feet, yet she has washed them with her tears. “Therefore, her many sins are forgiven, but ‘he who to has been forgiven little, loves little.'”

Luke 10:38-42 – Jesus allows Mary to sit at his feet, even though in that day, only men were allowed to learn at the feet of rabbis. He tells her sister, who wants to drag Mary into the kitchen, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her”.

Let’s pray:

Lord, I pray we will have discernment in raising our daughters. I pray we will teach them to respect us as parents, while at the same time, we learn to respect them as daughters of the King of the Universe. I pray we teach our daughters to find their voices so they will not fall prey to men who would abuse and/or rape them. Lord, help us be the parents you would have us be. Amen

 


[1] http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf

[2] National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey. 1998.

[3] Gary J. Oliver, Ph.D, H. Norman Wright, Good Women Get Angry: A Woman’s Guide to Handling Anger, Depression, Anxiety and Stress (Ann Arbor, MI:Servant Publications, 1995) .

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Verna-Lee says:

    How can we raise sons that won’t abuse and rape is the better question. Put the responsibility at prevention where it really belongs on those who do the behaviors.

    As long as society hold on to this” boys will be boys” mentality as if their undesired behavior is unpreventable, people will fail to address it, and continue to blame the victims for being hurt, and people will keep on being hurt.

    “If we allow our daughters to say ‘NO’ when their boundaries have been trampled, perhaps they won’t “be quiet” when a boyfriend tries to “go too far” in the back seat of a car, and we won’t have to find out the next morning “that nice boy” raped our 15-year-old.”

    I agree it is vital to raise people to have a voice but maybe if people raise boys right they won’t rape, and if they do, it doesn’t matter if she is too quiet to be heard by others, or very loud. If is is raped she is raped and it is the rapists responsibility.

    Stop making it the victims’ job to not be hurt and put the responsibility for prevention were it truly belongs abusers and stopping potential abusers by education and accountability .

    • Great point Vera-Lee! Thanks for commenting! I have already written a post about how to raise boys. I probably should have linked to that in this article. I agree with you that the BEST thing we can do as a society is to raise boys who won’t abuse. At the same time, until ALL men are raised that way, I believe we owe it to our daughters to help them be prepared to look for/deal with boys/men who might hurt them. I invite you to read my post about how to raise boys: http://www.carolineabbott.com/~caroline/2012/11/how-can-we-prevent-domestic-violence/ . Again, thanks for your comment!

  2. Maggz Mitchell says:

    All children should be taught that there are people who are born without a conscience. They are called psychopaths and are probably responsible for most domestic violence in the world. Also known as antisocial personality disorder they are initially charming..All people advising on domestic abuse should have a sound knowledge of this mental disorder…..it is not an illness just a disorder..

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