By / Jul 28

Trillia Newbell interviews Jen Wilkin about teaching our daughters to fight fear and learning how to study the Word.

By / May 3

Trillia Newbell interviews Jen Wilkin about teaching our daughters to fight fear and learning how to study the Word.

By / Aug 22

“Little League is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets,” Yogi Berra is reported to have quipped. Few things are as quintessentially American as the Little League World Series. In 1939, Little League baseball had its inaugural season, and in 1947, the Little League Board of Directors began a national tournament that would come to be known as the Little League World Series. The Little League World Series displays the national pastime in its most innocent form. The widespread interest in the LLWS reveals the game of baseball remains deeply embedded in the national conscience.

This year's LLWS star is undoubtedly Mo’ne Davis, star pitcher of the Taney Dragons from Philadelphia. The 4 foot 11 inch, 84 pound Mo’ne is 13-years-old and throws a fastball that has the equivalent velocity of a 90 mph Major League fastball. Mo’ne is also a girl, which makes the sensational story all the more compelling. She is only the fourth American girl to play in the LLWS and she says baseball is not even her favorite sport—basketball is. The reported crowd for one of the games she pitched at the LLWS was 34,128. Her performance has been so captivating that she was featured on the cover of the iconic sports magazine Sports Illustrated. On top of it all, she has been poised and irresistibly charming in the face of all the attention.

Knowing my love of all things baseball, I was recently asked what I think about Mo’ne Davis playing in the LLWS against boys. My immediate response was, “It’s great. She has been amazing.” But, I also felt compelled to add, “But I would not allow my daughters that age to compete in sports against boys.”

I certainly do not think a case can be made that it is inherently wrong or sinful for a 13-year-old girl to compete against boys in baseball. Of course, if it were a combat sport like wrestling, boxing, or football that would be an entirely different matter. But as a Christian father in a world of gender confusion and chaos, my wife and I think it would be at odds with what we desire to cultivate in our sons (we have 3) and daughters (we have 5) to have them formally compete against the opposite gender beyond childhood. 

We believe that all people, male and female, are created in the image of God. Men and women are divinely designed gendered image bearers. It is our gendered humanity that images God in the world (Gen 1:27). Our sexual distinctiveness reveals to us something important about God’s nature. In our attempt to teach our sons and daughters a healthy biblical sexuality, we want to celebrate and champion God’s design in their distinctive masculinity and femininity. We desire for them to think about male and female relationships as complimentary and not competitive. We do not want our daughters thinking in terms of being able to do anything a boy can do. And we want our boys to think in terms of fighting for girls and not competing against them (1 Cor 11:8-10, 1 Pet 3:7).

Masculinity and femininity are to be surrendered to God for his glory and not measured in competition with one another. The wonderful contrast and compliment of male and female in the world teaches us about God and should evoke our worship of God. The desire in our family is to delight in and nurture the uniqueness of God’s design in a culture that seeks to minimize it.

Downplaying or ignoring the differences in male and female liberates no one. Telling a woman to measure her worth by how well she can compete against men is demeaning to her femininity. So, while boys and girls can both learn a lot from sports, my wife and I think its best for our sons and daughters to compete against their own gender (especially at adolescence and beyond). Sports are simply one tool we attempt to utilize toward the goal of cultivating our sons and daughters into Christ-exalting men and women.

G.K. Chesterton wrote a short poem entitled “Comparisons” that reveals the folly of those who would claim that acknowledging gender differences necessarily means inequality.

If I set the sun beside the moon,

And if I set the land beside the sea,

And if I set the town beside the country,

And if I set the man beside the woman,

I suppose some fool would talk about one being better.

I hope we will celebrate Mo’ne as a courageous and poised young woman who had an amazing LLWS that she will remember the rest of her life. Her effort, humility, and poise have already been an inspiration to many and she possesses many traits I hope my daughters will emulate. It would be tragic if we create a cultural narrative that defines her success by whether or not she goes on to play high school, college, or professional baseball. Mo’ne has been described as “A Women Among Boys” (NY Times, Scott Cacciola, Aug 20, 2014) at the LLWS but I wish we would just let her be a remarkable young woman. 

By / Jun 17

I have two amazing girls who are now adult women—wives and mothers, using their gifts to serve others. One of my daughters is a writer and teacher, serving alongside her husband in planting a church in Thailand. My younger daughter is a Physician Assistant (PA) who will give birth any day to her son, Caleb. (Since I wrote this post, our daughter delivered a beautiful, healthy grandchild!) She has served with her husband as youth pastor and now bags are packed as they head to medical school.

This is a great season with my daughters but I do remember some harder times like when they were in middle school and going through the “mouth” stage. I remember telling Rodney he could raise them or they might not live!

Every culture and every time has its challenges but the basics taught to us in Scripture stay the same. Just ask your parents or better yet your grandparents what the challenges were in their day. A different set for sure but still a challenge. Rodney and I have been in marriage and family ministry now for almost thirty years. We don’t have all the answers, but here are some things we have learned as parents of daughters:

1. Be positive. Don’t groan about the challenges but accept the opportunity and blessing of parenting. Your children will quickly notice if you have the joy of parenting. They need to know that even when it’s hard, you see it is as a privilege to be their mom and dad.

2. You must be “all in” as parents. Parenting is a commitment to engage with your children. There is no room for passive parenting. You need the spiritual workout daily to be a fit parent (physical health is important, too.) Be actively engaged until you launch them from the home. Many parents start out strong then lose that engagement in the teen years. See it through.

3. Pray and then pray some more. I can still remember my mom and dad on their knees praying for me during the teen years. Seeing them pray made such an impact in my life. When my oldest daughter became interested in a young boy we didn’t feel good about, we prayed. Soon his parents sent him to live with his grandparents several states away. Jennifer joked with friends to be careful of her parents who pray! Seek God in all your parenting. He created your children, gifted them, and loves them even more than you do.

4. The best partner in parenting is the church. I am so thankful for other moms who were spiritual mothers to my girls—nursery workers, preschool teachers, and youth leaders. All were critical partners in raising my daughters to own their own faith. Even today as grown women, my girls still have people in the church that pray for them and encourage them in their faith. There’s nothing like the support of other moms to pray with you as you raise your daughters.

5. Open home. From preschool through high school, having your daughter’s friends over to your house is a great way for you to understand the issues, challenges, and culture your daughter lives in. It is critical that your daughter has friends and this open home view will give you the opportunity to know her friends. It is messy and takes a great deal of investment but it is so worth the benefits.

6. Live an authentic faith. It isn’t about you being perfect, in fact your daughter needs to see you struggle with life issues but also see that you trust God in all things. She needs to see you live out your faith daily through prayer, time in God’s Word, and as you share your faith with others. If you want her to love the church, you need to show her how to love the pastor and God’s people.

7. Tell your girls they are beautiful. Get their attention. When our girls were little, we had a little game we would play where we would say, “Look at our nose.” This meant we had their attention and were looking at them in the eyes. This is a great teaching position for children. We wanted them to hear from us regularly that God had made them, that God had a plan for them, and that they were beautifully and wonderfully made by God. Our culture is so “beauty” focused and self-esteem issues are huge for girls in our culture. Make sure you counter this with speaking the truth of God’s Word to them often.

8. Bring out the gifts you see in them. We saw the creative gifts in Jennifer as a young girl and we saw the gift for science in Natalie as a young girl. Help develop the gifts God has given your daughter. It is part of God’s plan for their lives. One of the joys of parenting is watching those gifts come to life in your children.

9. Daddy’s girl. A strong relationship with their father is so important to girls. If that isn’t possible, find a godly man who will be involved in their life. I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is that girls are cherished by their fathers. Loved. Blessed. Told they are beautiful. A father teaches his daughters how a man should treat a woman. Rodney took the girls on “daddy dates” from the time they were in preschool up through high school. Those times were so critical for the girls as they developed into young women.

10. A few rules is enough. God gave us the Ten Commandments and hundreds of promises. You want that balance in your home. A few strong rules but hundreds of blessings and promises from God. One absolute rule we had in our home was respect for all family members. Another was every family member had a job to do. We had other rules and the rules changed with each season but we tried to have more “yes” themes in our home than “no” themes.

I would love to hear some of your insights or challenges in raising girls today.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 6:5–7).

This article was originally posted here.