Been meaning to share the review of this book for a while now… I picked it up on the Logos Hope when it docked in Singapore, mostly because its title appealed to me.
As a mum of two little girls, I want them to grow strong. No wishy-washy helpless princessy gu-niang types. A bit more of the aspire, strive and dare to be, thank you very much. But still feminine and grounded in a gentle spirit (1 Peter 3:3-4), please.
Overall, I felt that Growing Strong Daughters: Encouraging Girls To Become All They’re Meant To Be by Lisa Graham McMinn was a good read.
Apart from being an InterVarsity Press author, McMinn taught in university for more than 20 years, then went from Professor of Sociology to Writer-in-Residence at an Oregon University. She now farms, writes and speaks. It was good to have her write from her experience of parenting her daughter too.
Whilst I didn’t immediately agree with everything McMinn wrote, I admit that some parts were very liberating.
One of the things she mentioned was that there was a significant bias in Christian circles towards having mums stay home, which increases the already-there guilt for mums who are not so for some (usually good) reason.
Her point was that (non upper-class) mums had always worked / contributed to the family income up till the Industrial Revolution, where the main form of ‘work’ shifted away from farm work and cottage industries (sewing, weaving). Employment opportunities and significant wages could no longer be found at ‘home’.
It was then that a more distinct difference emerged between the mum who went out to a factory to work, and the mum who stayed at home with no ‘work’ in the sense of regular and significant payments from an employer.
Before the industrial revolution, only women from very wealthy homes, or who had husbands with large incomes, could afford to be full time mothers. And for these women, they weren’t quite mothering all the time either, having access to nannies, governesses and the like.
She cites the example of the Proverbs 31 mother as one who worked too, and her belief is that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with a mother spending a significant amount of time a day at work. The only thing that has changed through the centuries is that it’s become harder and harder for a woman to work with her children nearby.
The other parts that were good in her book included how we should communicate with our daughters, i.e. through reason and debate. I liked that, since consciously or otherwise, far too many women manipulate through wiles. Whilst that could be an art if done well, I’d much rather win an argument through cold hard logic. So much more satisfying. 😀
McMinn also makes the case that our daughters should be told that they can aspire to any job that a man aspires to, and to groom their potential without pre-conceived notion of what girls should be good at.
Whilst not everyone might agree with her entire book, I felt that it was good to have such literature out there. To provoke reflection and to nudge one in pondering what one would like for one’s own daughters, and then to consciously parent – our season of influence could be short indeed.