Raising Strong Girls

In response to our news of another little girl, a friend recently said, “Your purpose in life is to raise strong women.” Frank and I have taken this statement as a sort of commission – a guiding principle in our parenting choices. As we raise Bea and dream about this next little girl, our hope is that we foster confidence, strength, opinions, and courage. We want our girls to be women who change this world for the better, who think critically, and who question what they are taught.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Race, Reconciliation & Immigration conference. It was a hope-filled time focused on what we can be doing to combat injustice and work toward reconciliation. As John Perkins said,

Drinking coffee together won’t solve the problem – it takes justice out of the equation.

Surrounding myself with strong women
Surrounding myself with strong women

One of the best parts of the conference for me was going with some moms from my MOPS group. It is so encouraging knowing women who care about justice and who are in different places on their journey towards it. I am learning so much from them and their life experiences. One woman is an initiator – she is full of ideas and practical ways of doing justice. We were talking about what we as moms could do and she suggested playdates. This common act can bring about connections and experiences that – while it doesn’t feel like being on the frontline of protests or prison reform – is a doable way for moms to stretch outside comfort zones and work toward bridging community gaps.

What I loved about this idea is that it is something I can do. My first inclination toward new ideas or information is to read more about it, to follow authors and bloggers and tweeters who are on the frontline, to get frustrated, but to ultimately not really know what to do next. I do know that I can take Bea to a park and play with other kids in neighborhoods that need justice and reconciliation. It may seem like a tiny step, but it’s something I can comfortably do with my child who doesn’t have the same fears and prejudices many adults do.

I have another friend who works toward justice through her Family Service Club. Kellie wanted to foster a practical spirit of giving in her kids, so she is actively looking for ways to engage them in their communities. I love that she wants to take the childhood lesson of sharing and caring for others into the broader world of her community.

From these women, I am learning that working toward justice doesn’t have to be grand. Especially in this stage of small acts and raising small people, starting with simple is best. We need big world-changing ideas, but we also need small community outreaches and playdates. I need to remember what Perkins said,

If you do justice anywhere, people will hear about it everywhere.

Frank and I were talking about other practical ways we can raise strong, compassionate women. We’ve talked about modeling our own pursuit toward justice. Ultimately, what we do as a family will carry far more weight than any words we say to our girls. What do we want our family story to say? How do we make these beliefs our family norm?

I know I won’t stop reading and learning about ways to fight injustice, but I also know I need to surround myself with strong, proactive, and justice-minded women. Women who teach me how to put my knowledge into action. Women who are ahead of me on this journey and who can teach me sensitive ways of working toward justice. Women I want my daughters to be like when they grow up.

How do you work toward justice? Any practical ideas for including children in this pursuit?

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7 thoughts on “Raising Strong Girls

  1. This is so insightful and inspiring. I love the idea that “If you do justice anywhere, people will hear about it everywhere.” That helps me take small steps in my family, my church, and my community. I love your attitude about how your family story will have an impact on justice. Thanks for sharing what you are learning. I’m encouraged by your words.

  2. I love this Annie. Much like you, I’m often stumped by what I can do on a personal level. That surprises most people because of the organization we serve with but I want to make sure it’s not done from an organizational viewpoint. I don’t tend to think that these smallish seeming activities are enough but as you point out, they are. I’ve seen families carry on traditions of serving through generations and know there is value in that. Good for you and Frank to be intentional in your family. And congratulations on another little girl!

    1. I would have guessed that justice work would come so easily for you, but can totally see needing the distinction between the organization and personal work… Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Thanks, Kirsten! I’m currently reading “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. It’s an incredibly difficult read but so powerful… Something I think everyone should read. (Check out his Ted Talk, too!) Bloggers who are doing amazing work are Austin Channing Brown and Katelin at By Their Strange Fruit. They continually cause me to think and reexamine my own prejudices..

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