Earlier today I read an article on rules for parents of daughters. (You can read it here.) It consists of 25 rules to go by when raising girls. Most of the rules involve what you are to teach your daughters and most of them are pretty reasonable and have a smack of humor about them.
There is a decent amount of language and a bit of a feminist slant but, for the most part, these rules are pretty good. There are a number that I might have to tweak to my liking and two that I outright would have to disagree with. Rule #19 (Don't let your daughter marry young. Encourage her to get out and see the world, live on her own and figure out who she is and what she wants in a partner before she settles down.), I feel, is unnecessary but I will go into why in another post at another time. But the one that really gets my goat is Rule #25.
Rule #25 is as old as time itself and it is the same old lie that the serpent sold Eve. "Teach your daughter that her choices in life are limitless. She really can do anything - except maybe use the Men's Restroom." Now that is nothing but a bunch of hooey. I've heard this sort of dung my whole life and it is usually packaged up in really sappy sayings like "Whatever you believe, you can achieve" and the like. Get real, people. That's not life and I refuse, I say REFUSE to teach my children otherwise.
To tell your child that she is can do anything she wants, that her choices are limitless, is to sell her a lie and to set her up for frustration, failure, and heartache. Reinhold Neibuhr, in The Nature and Destiny of Man says "man is insecure, and ... he seeks to overcome his insecurity by a will-to-power.... He pretends he is not limited."
Tim Keller in Counterfeit Gods makes the point: "Human beings have very little real power over their lives. Ninety-five percent of what sets the course of their lives is completely outside their control. This includes the century and place they are born in, who their parents and family are, their childhood environment, physical stature, genetically hardwired talents, and most of the circumstances that they find themselves in. In short, all we are and have is given to us by God. We are not infinite Creators, but finite, dependent creatures."
The truth is we are not limitless. That doesn't mean that we are powerless. It just means that we operate within a framework. I would rather teach my children to pursue what they can control and what God has called them to do... (To do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. — Micah 6:8) than teach the "follow your dreams" sentimentality that sets them up to pursue man-made goals as the be all and end all to life. What a tremendous amount of pressure, to believe that having THAT is what will give you a fulfilling life and getting THAT is all up to you.
A good deal of the brouhaha out there is the concept that a girl can do anything. This just isn't true. A girl can't do ANYTHING. And neither can a boy. I am all for positive thinking (Phil. 4:8) and believing that God will give us the strength to do anything that he has called us to do (Phil 4:13). But I want the encouragement to move ahead, to love, to serve, to achieve, to succeed, to be built on the solid rock of truth and not on the dust devil of trumped up dreams.