I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had homeschooling Christian moms ask me what they should do with their post-high school daughters. Often, I brace myself to discover what sort of awful situation they have gotten themselves into. But, surprisingly, more often than not, their question centers around what to do with a daughter who wants to continue living at home and who is eager for marriage. When I respond that it sounds like they have a pretty good situation, a sigh of relief often is accompanied by, “I’m so glad to hear you say that!”
What is wrong with this picture? Well, for starters, it is as though there were some mysterious “they” out there who were shaking “their” collective heads disapprovingly at these moms. How conditioned we are by the non-Christian culture around us. The very same moms who successfully got their daughters to the point of being educated, useful, helpful, and productive in their family are suddenly back defending themselves just like they did when they decided to homeschool originally.
I can almost hear the screeches now! Barefoot and pregnant—is that the idea? However, before you condemn my perspective, you should hear me out. I am not advocating the barring of girls from higher education, getting a job, or doing any number of productive things. Nor am I saying that every girl will eventually marry (whether they hope to or not). Rather, I’m suggesting that in the natural flow of things—the future shouldn’t be that daunting. What have they been doing up until now? What have been the areas of training and productivity that have been being emphasized? In other words, this moment in time should have been anticipated and prepared for so that the next move wouldn’t be a leap—just another step.
I am a firm believer in not eliminating options prematurely. For example, back when my daughter was little, piano was a course of study that she was required to take. I couldn’t have known when she was seven whether or not being a performer or teacher was in God’s plan for her. So, she continued studying the piano until she was proficient at sight reading (enough to play hymns for the family) and until another area of gifting became more apparent and needed more of her time. Similarly, her understanding of science was not pursued because we felt she was going in to research, medicine, or engineering. She was required to learn about these things, in case that is what God had in store for her, or just to have a basic understanding of the world around her.
Among the many jobs a parent has is the responsibility to steward the lives of the children God has placed in their care. Part of that task is to “study” their temperaments, natural inclinations or talents, and heartfelt desires. By not ruling anything out prematurely, this period of training can be a productive foundation for the future. Then, instead of wondering what to do with a daughter, many potential answers and options should be on the horizon already, because the questions have been being asked for some time.
How do your particular daughter’s preferences factor in to all this? They are as much a part of the recipe as your input. From the time she is old enough to recognize that people have duties and responsibilities (maybe 3 or 4 years old), you should be noting what things she particularly has affinity for and steering her in those directions. It is very beneficial to observe this in your children, as it gives you a window into their hearts and minds. Does this mean that if your 10 year old informs you that she’s not going to study arithmetic, you tell her she doesn’t have to? Hardly. It can be, however, an opportunity for you and her to note that it isn’t her forte. Maybe this particular struggle is one of the many lessons God has given her to learn perseverance and patience!
If we communicate to our daughters that their chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever from the time they are young, these sorts of issues, while not easy, can be dealt with much smoother because the context of serving God has always been the major factor in the equation. —What to do with our daughters? Recognize that they need us now, as much as ever, to continue the good work began in them by Christ Jesus.
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, the Chalcedon podcast, and has an active teaching schedule with women and high schooled students.. She can be reached at [email protected].