How to Raise a Confident Daughter

These are the five words we never want to hear our daughters say to us, “Mom, I think I’m fat.” What’s worse is that we have said it about ourselves far too many times and we wonder if there is actually a way to live free from insecurity. As Moms, we want to change the tide but we are not really sure how. Maria Furlough has dug in with God and his word and wants to offer us hope for a confident future. Maria asks the hard questions, so that us Moms of daughters can grow together in confidence and then teach and show our daughters what we have learned. There is a welcomed freedom in submitting all of our insecure places to a Heavenly Father that loves us and wants good things for us and our girls. Places like our eating, our physical fitness, our beauty routines, our words when we look in the mirror.  Together Maria guides us with her to a place where Godly Confidence beats insecurity each and every time. And on the other side?  A daughter who can stand up strong, beautiful, confident in exactly who God has made her to be! It’s a grace to welcome Maria to the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Maria Furlough

Come with me to January 1, 2018. Happy New Year!

I had officially spent the last five weeks of my life eating all the things at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, and all the cells in my body were screaming, “Stop eating cookies!”

“Okay, fine,” I say. It’s been awhile (like a decade) since I’ve tried to be on a diet, so let’s give it another whirl.

Out goes the sugar, the dairy, the grains, and anything processed, and for fourteen days I ate almost nothing but fruits and vegetables.

But something happened that I did not expect.

I shot right back to seventh grade. I became obsessed all over again with my jean size, the mirror, the scale, and calories.

All the things I had fought so hard with God to gain control over, the battle to focus on Him instead of fat content and calorie count—all went out the window. An old addiction rose up in me once more, and I couldn’t believe it.

One decade of godly confidence was threatened by fourteen days of dieting.

On day fifteen, I decided it wasn’t worth it. My soul and my emotions could not handle what my body was doing.

In had come the comparison, the body analysis, the feeling guilty over every single bite, and I knew it was time for me to stop. 

I had to mentally and spiritually detox myself from the dieting and weight loss, and I had to once more come to grips with why freedom in food is so important for my God centered confidence.

A month later, I still found myself eating only a half slice of pizza for dinner and feeling guilty over any “unhealthy” bit of food, and finally I had had it! I had to do something drastic.

Where had my perspective gone, and how did it leave so fast?

The choices we make about food, the diets we choose to embark on, and the foods we choose to fixate on are more than just physical decisions. They impact our mind, body, and spirit, and we have to bring God into the equation.

It’s more than food. It’s more than dieting. It’s more than losing a few pounds.

And if it is affecting us in this way, how much more do we need to protect our daughters’ developing and growing minds!

Our girls notice every bite we take, every food choice we make.

We are setting them up for their life, their womanhood, and our choices impact whether they will develop healthy eating habits or disordered eating habits.

And not only healthy eating but also healthy in mind, body, and spirit—the healthy that looks like God’s healthy.

Greater than anything else we can do for our daughters, our first purpose is to disciple them. Our sweet girls are still growing. They are sponges, absorbing whatever food truths have been thrown at them.

We need to be careful they are not being confused by what they see in their very own homes. We need to assess and take into serious consideration what we do so as to not by our eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. (Rom. 14:15)

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he writes to an audience of people who were not able to separate their eating lives from their spiritual lives. Worrying about eating was keeping them from Jesus.

Do not let what you know is good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. (Rom. 14:16–21)

As I read these words, I am immediately taken back to my years as a middle school youth director. I loved those kids like my own children, and I was acutely aware of where they were in their faith.

I was also acutely aware of the fact that eyes were on me at all times.

The young girls who were taught to pass up cookies and snacks and chocolate watched me to see what I would do. This was the very first time I felt the weight of the example I carried.

I loved them so deeply, and it broke my heart that at twelve and thirteen, while gathering with friends, all they could think of was the dos and don’ts of food. I wept as I watched them fall into eating disorders at such young ages.

I wanted so badly for them to see that food does not need to control us. It doesn’t need to be an enemy combatant and a constant source of stress.

I wanted them to see Jesus.

During that season of life, I happened to be trying to lose weight. I was confident that I was doing an okay thing by learning healthy eating for myself, but I was also confident that my call to faithfulness was to be a good model for these girls. What was I to do?

It was simple: love trumped every time.

In each situation, love won.

I ate the cookie, chose my favorite candy bar, or grabbed a few chips and continued on with my evening and laughed with them in full joy over our time together.

So as to not let them spin further into the lies that plagued them, I put my own eating priorities aside.

I did not binge on junk food in front of them but chose to unceasingly display moderation.

Jesus, help us not to be the source of stumbling in our homes!

May righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit be the most present items in our kitchens.

 

Maria Furlough is a wife to her husband, Dave, and a mother to one amazing eleven-year-old daughter, three ridiculously fun boys, and one baby boy who lives in the arms of Jesus. She teaches women’s Bible studies and works as the Missions Team Leader at Lake Forest Church in Huntersville, North Carolina, and she is a former full-time youth pastor. She is the author of Breaking the Fear Cycle.

With deep compassion, in her new book Confident Moms, Confident Daughters, Maria Furlough delves into the root causes of our insecurity, offers biblical guidance for seeing ourselves as God sees us, and shows how to model our newfound confidence to our impressionable daughters. Speaking as a daughter, a youth leader, and a mother, Furlough shares her own struggles and triumphs, as well as expert advice from a pediatrician, a nutritionist, a Christian counselor, and more.

What we say to our daughters might last a moment. What we show our daughters lasts a lifetime. With God’s help, we can put aside our obsession with bodily perfection and refocus on becoming and raising godly women.

[ Our humble thanks to Baker for their partnership in today’s devotion ]