A Christian Mom Responds to "How to Talk to Your Daughter about Her Body"
I recently came across How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body, by Sarah Koppelkam. I was bothered by it for awhile, but couldn't figure out why. At first. Her take is interesting, and I can appreciate many of her points, but I realized it is missing a Biblical worldview. Here's my own rendition.
How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don't talk to your daughter about her body expecting that you can follow certain rules to obtain the 'right' outcome. Conversation is a natural, normal part of building relationships. It is wholesome to talk positively about God’s gift of the body.
Don't say anything that is hurtful or confrontational if she's lost (or gained) weight, but ask questions to strike up conversations about body image and chastity, always ready with Scriptural guidance.
If you think of a compliment regarding your daughter's appearance, feel free to share it. Even better, focus on her personality and God-given talents. Here are some things you can say instead:
"You are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
"God has amazing plans for you” (Jeremiah 29:11)!
"Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Glorify God with it” (I Corinthians 6:19-20).
Or even, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
Common courtesy tells us not to comment on other women's bodies, and to put the best construction on all of their words and actions. Teach your daughter to be kind and compassionate to everyone (including herself), but also forgiving, just as God forgives her (Ephesians 4:32).
Don't you dare neglect to talk about food and nutrition together. Know that she's listening carefully to what you say and watching what you do, but also be assured that she is resilient. If you make a mistake, you won't ruin her. Ask for forgiveness and talk about the error. But also teach her that while shame isn't helpful, guilt is a real feeling that she may sometimes experience, just as you do. Empower her to discern whether or not she truly is guilty, whether it be over-eating, under-eating, coveting another's height, weight, or hair color. Whatever the reason, if she has sinned, she can confess before the Lord, be forgiven (I John 1:9), and start anew (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Encourage your daughter to exercise daily because it will help her be a good steward of her body, but also encourage her to read her Bible daily, because there is nowhere better to explore the love of the God of the universe, who gave her life and redeemed her for eternity. Encourage her to make prudent choices about risks because being scared might be beneficial, but the fear of the Lord is always the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).
Help your daughter love sports or sewing or writing, because honing those skills is a way that God will use her to bless others, perhaps making her a leader, or cultivating other virtues. Explain that no matter how old you get, you'll never stop growing and learning and being a blessing to those around you. Never make your love conditional on whether or not she is athletic.
Prove to your daughter that God has made her uniquely feminine for a reason. He has created her body to carry and nourish new life. If she wants to move the furniture alone, she can, but there are probably reliable men in her life who would be honored to serve and assist her. Asking for input and working together will nurture interdependent relationships.
Teach your daughter how to garden and bake. Make cooking together a labor of love for your family. Taste and see that the Lord is good and provides us with daily bread (Psalm 34:8, Matthew 6:11)
Pass on your own mom's recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Celebrate her godly influence on your life, and celebrate the gift of God's Son, who took on a human body at Christmas, to redeem us, body and soul. Pass on your love of Jesus.
Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It's not always easy to remember that God makes people in all shapes and sizes, and He rejoices in the diversity He's made. Do. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can plan a marathon, but the Lord will determine her steps (Proverbs 16:9). Our plans are not always His plans (Isaiah 55:8), and while we are here on earth, sometimes our bodies will fail us. Ultimately, our bodies will give up, and we will die. But, that's not the end. We await the resurrection of the body, and the life of the world to come, when our Lord Jesus will raise us up again. He, too, died and rose (1 Thessalonians 4:14) and will give us new and perfect bodies (Philippians 3:20-21). Her ribcage is much more than a carrying case for strong lungs. She can sing and she can lift up her voice in praise to the Lord -- for both body and soul, made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to serve the people God places in her life, and to mobilize her beautiful soul to love the Lord her God.