Walking through the parking lot and into the church building one Sunday my daughter received her first compliment. “Oh my, you are beautiful this morning! Look at that dress! I’ve never seen anything cuter!”
The next one came from the greeter holding the door. “Aren’t you just adorable? You’re the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen!”
Then came the third one from someone walking down the opposite side of the hallway on the way to her Sunday school class. “You are just so pretty! I love your dress this morning!”
At this point all the compliments got my attention.
In full disclosure I am no stranger to smocked dresses and big, like as-big-as-you-can-find, hair bows. We live in the south, so that’s part of my excuse, but the other part is that I truly love being a girl mom and all the perks that come with that role including dressing my girls up—especially while they’re still little and I can get away with it.
But that Sunday morning I began to question whether all the compliments my little girl were healthy.
3 Ways to Teach Your Daughter the Truth about Her Identity
I don’t want my daughter to think that her clothes define her or that they are what make her pretty. I don’t want her to become materialistic or make an idol out of clothes or out of her appearance. I don’t want her to start comparing herself to others. I don’t want her to become haughty.
Later that week all of my thoughts presented themselves as possible realities. My little girl pranced into my bathroom as I was getting dressed and announced, “Mommy, look how pretty I am!” as she continued past me towards the full-length mirror hanging on the closet door.
Until this moment she had never been aware of her appearance. As I watched her she flicked her hair back-and-forth, looked up and down at the princess dress she was wearing, and stared intently at her face and hair.
“Ella Grace, you know that your clothes don’t make you pretty, don’t you?” I tried to think quick about how to make this into a lesson and correct any misunderstandings she’s developing about her identity.
“Yes, Mommy, I know that.” she answered.
“Well, then who makes you pretty?” I questioned back.
“God makes me pretty, Mommy.”
She knows the “right answers” when I ask her questions like that, but I couldn’t help but worry that false beliefs were taking root.
I know that it is normal for little girls to want to dress-up and be pretty. But I also know how quickly false beliefs about oneself can take root and how destructive the outcome as a girl gets older. My first memory of struggling with food was when I was six-year-old, and by my teens and twenties I had developed an eating disorder.
Since this initial conversation with my daughter, I have begun to be more intentional with teaching her God’s truth about her identity even though she is only four-years-old.
So here are three ways I’m teaching my daughter truth about her identity in Jesus:
I tell her she is “fearfully and wonderfully made” often.
Psalm 139:14 is the first Bible verse that my daughter memorized. The verse was displayed on a plaque in her nursery, and I would read it to her from when she was an infant. Now, I will sometimes ask her to say it out loud as she looks at herself in the mirror.
We memorize other scripture verses about identity together.
I made a set of scripture memory verses on identity that we memorize together. Our goal is to memorize one a week. She, of course, is a lot better at memorizing than me, but I find that I need the verses as much as she does.
I displayed Beth Moore’s Identity Declaration on her bathroom mirror.
A while back I came across this Identity Declaration that Beth Moore wrote. I printed it on card stock, laminated it for durability, and taped it to my Ella Grace’s bathroom mirror. (I taped one on my bathroom mirror, too.) Periodically we read it together, and she almost has it memorized. You can use the song to help your daughter memorize it, too.
I realize my daughter will most likely struggle with her identity as some point in her life. With all of the media influences in our world, it’s hard not to. But my prayer is that if she hears me speak truth to her enough, when she’s older and I’m not around she recall what I’ve spoken over her and pause when the enemy whispers his lies to her.
A Prayer for Our Daughters
Lord Jesus, there are so many voices from this world coming at our daughters. We humbly ask for wisdom as we teach our girls truth from your Word about who they truly are in you. Help us to not only teach them well, but help us to be examples to them as we live out our own identities in you. Lord, protect our girls’ minds, and help them to know that they are your inheritance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.