When I was a little girl, I had cats, and with enough cats, I soon ended up with kittens. I loved kittens. Their soft fur, the new smell of a newborn kitten, their little “mew” and their stumbling walk. I spent hours watching them, playing with them, admiring how their mama took care of them and protected them. And I was protective of my cats as well. I thought no one else knew how to hold them, pet them, feed them the right way (read: MY way). So I watched over them quite protectively.
However, I have a distinct memory. I’d play with my new kitten, and if you know anything about cats, there is a fine line in cat attitude between “ahhh, please pet me more” and “argh! I’m gonna bite your hand off!” Most people probably stop playing with their cats once the “fighting” begins, but I always let my kitten fight me. Clawing my hand, biting at my fingers with their sharp new teeth. I’d keep tickling their belly while they kept kicking and fighting and biting until they couldn’t take it any more. I wasn’t mean or brutal. I didn’t terrorize them. But I wanted them to be fighters. I didn’t want the to take the easy way out or let some other cat (or person in my case) push them around. I wanted them to stand their ground.
It turns out, I’m taking the same approach to raising my girls.
I don’t want my girls to be push-overs.
I don’t want them to ever think it’s okay for someone to forcefully boss them around, be that verbally or physically or even sexually.
They are only 5 and 6 at the moment, but I know what the world is like, and I know it likes to tell girls how to behave, how to dress, how to fix their hair and makeup, how to act around boys, how to get boys’ attention, how to…you name it. The world wants my girls to accept it all, to buy it, use it, throw it away, and then buy the “new improved version.”
I don’t want my girls to be like that. Like every nameless girl in TV ads, magazine covers, and movies. My girls are precious and valuable. And I don’t mean that in a Disney Princess sort of way. I mean that in the sense that they are created in the image of an awesome God who was creative enough to give my girls their own unique version of life’s blueprint–DNA, fingerprints, etc. And not only that, but HE LOVES them. That when they cry, He collects their tears. That when my girls live their lives chasing after His great plans, God softly closes his eyes and breathes in the sweet aroma of a life lived with His purpose.
But that life isn’t achieved by complacent, conforming girls.
It’s fought for.
It takes tenacity.
It takes bravery and independence rooted in total dependance on Him.
On a practical level, my husband and I have taught our girls to fight if someone is trying to hurt them. Don’t be silent. Scream. Hit. Kick. It’s not right, and you don’t have to be a polite lady when someone is hurting you. And we’ve taught them where to kick, too. I once saw Elizabeth Smart’s father interviewed. When discussing life after his daughter was rescued, he learned that during her ordeal she’d had a chance to run away, to scream and get someone’s attention, but sadly, she had chosen not too. Fear? Brainwashing? Who knows why she didn’t, but she did not do it. Once home, Mr. Smart said he gathered his daughters and made them scream. Made them practice not being silent.
And so this is how I am raising up my girls to be fighters–not just physical fighters protecting themselves from bullies and would be abusers but fighters who stand up for what is right and good and just and noble and pure and lovely and admirable.
Fighters who don’t conform to the world but strive to follow God.
Fighters who know their value and hold on it passionately, never allowing anyone or anything to tell them they are less.