Archive for the 'girls & womens issues' Category

girls & violence & youth ministry’s response

i’ve been wondering lately if teen girls are becoming more violent. the thought started last week, when in my small group of 7th grade girls, one of the girls shared she’d missed the last group because she was suspended from school for beating up another girl. her revelation opened the proverbial can of worms as the girls started sharing about the fights between girls at their schools and i was a bit surprised at the number of fights they talked about and the violence level of them. i ended up scrapping the lesson i’d planned on women of the bible and switched to an impromptu one in conflict resolution. we talked about turning the other cheek, letting things roll off us instead of reacting, where we find our true identity and how, when and where to get help. it’s been a little over a week since that small group meeting and it’s been something i’ve continued to pray about and ponder.

this morning i saw this segment on the today show:

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it reinforced my concerns about increasing violence between young women. i hadn’t considered making sure that conflict resolution was in a regular rotation of teaching topics, but i’m certainly planning for that now. and it made me wonder, as a youth worker, what other biblical life skills in i should include in my curriculum planning? i hit the traditional biggies: parents, friends, dating & sex. what life skills do you regularly include in your teaching?



girls & self-esteem

today i ran across this article:

According to …

and while i agree with the author, for me, as a woman and a youth worker, there’s a piece that is neglected.

the author says at the end:

“As we spend time with our kids, we should teach what “self-esteem” truly means and what it doesn’t mean. Our girls don’t need to try to measure up to an impossible standard that the world has created. We need to remind our girls that God doesn’t care about outward appearance- he cares about the heart (I Sam. 16:7). Students need to be careful who they are listening to, what they are watching, and ultimately, what they believe. And it’s up to us to help them do that.

In addition, we must help them understand that everybody has problems; it is how we deal with them that makes or breaks us. Low self-esteem is a reality for far too many girls, but they need to be lovingly reminded that everybody faces problems in life. If teenagers learn to handle their problems responsibly, they will soon see that their quality of life drastically improves. If they don’t, they can make matters worse. Self-destruction will never be the solution for low self-esteem.”

the neglected bit is what kind of culture do we create in our ministries for our girls? as women, what do we model for them? the highlighted bit in the quote above touches on it, but i want to unpack that a little. what i mean by this is:

  • are girls of all shapes and sizes given the opportunity to be up front? whether it’s for games, student leadership roles, reading Scripture or whatever?
  • are there women leaders of all ages, shapes and sizes working with the girls in your group?
  • as women leaders, are we talking about this diet, that diet or negatively about our own bodies in front of the girls? or do we talk about nutrition or the things we do like about our bodies?
  • when we compliment girls, are we complimenting their appearance more than their character? or do we notice and compliment their character most?

creating opportunities for girls to serve is important and does help their self-esteem. but they also need us to create ministries that celebrate all girls no matter their appearance, personality or intellect. the world tells girls continuously that they must be smart, thin and gorgeous. but having our youth ministries be places where none of that matters, where girls are loved just as they are, will help girls hear and understand the whisper of God that says “you are my beautiful creation that i love!”

7th grade girls & relationships

this year i’m working with a small group of 7th grade girls. our group has grown to 16–fortunately, i have 2 co-leaders. as we’re approaching february and valentine’s day, i wanted to do a series on relationships–friendships and romantic ones both. to get started i pulled some questions from ys’s middle school talksheets books and came up with a questionnaire to learn what my girls thinking is around these relationships. here are a few interesting observations:

  • the majority of the girls feel like they can be good friends and would like more friends (11 of 13 and 9 of 13 respectively)
  • only 2 felt their parents should have a say in their choice of friends. 7 were firmly against it and 4 weren’t sure.
  • the majority of the girls feel their friends really care about them, like to hang out with them for who they are, and are fun to be with. (11 of 13 on all 3)
  • on the other hand, 11 of 13 think their friends may talk about them behind their backs.
  • all 13 girls believe that guys and girls can be best friends.
  • all 13 girls believe it is okay to date non-christians.
  • 10 of 13 girls think middle school isn’t too young to start dating and 7 think middle schoolers can be in love.

there were 4 questions that were situational and the girls had to decide if it was no big deal, a big deal, or it could go either way (maybe). here’s the breakdown.

  • you’re at a party and people start playing games involving kissing: 6 no big deal; 4 big deal; 3 maybe.
  • you’re close friends with a member of the opposite sex and you start liking that person: 7 no big deal; 3 big deal; 3 maybe.
  • you’re asked out by a member of the opposite sex: 11 no big deal; 2 big deal (no maybe’s here!)
  • you’re home alone after school when a close friend of the opposite sex stops by to hang out: 1 no big deal; 7 big deal; 5 maybe.

we’re going to have some great discussions over the next few weeks!

surprising myself

i’m a fan of sex and the city. i love the clothes, the shoes!. i can relate to being single and past 35. and yes, i’m very excited about the movie. i’m going to go see it friday nite with a friend. and i can pretty much count on one hand the number of movies i’ve made it a priority to see on opening day.

so here’s what’s surprising to myself: there’s a part of me that hopes the character of carrie has a happy ending that doesn’t include big–or any other guy.

i grew up on the fairytales that end with the princess getting the prince and everyone living happily ever after. and typically, i’m a hopeless romantic who wants to believe the fairytale ending–that true love wins out. that there actually is a true love for everyone. i have a shelf full of chick flicks and chick lit that all have exactly that ending.

but as i’m writing my own life story, i’m learning that i can have my own happy ending as a single woman. realizing that i’m almost rooting for carrie to have a happy ending as a single woman tells me that i really might be on my path to my own happily ever after. it also tells me that i want a pop culture princess to have a happily ever as a single so that i and other little girls have one more happily ever after to look at in the fairy tales.

but what are we teaching our boys?

marko has a great post here about dove campaign for beauty. i’m a big fan of this campaign. i’ve struggled with my self-image off and on my whole life. i believe in teaching girls they are beautiful just as they are. that they don’t need to be skinnier, bustier, blonder, or more of anything but themselves.

the caveat is that girls want to be thought of as pretty. we want to be found attractive. so it’s not just enough to change how women view beauty. we have to do more than teach girls that they are beautiful just as they are. we have to find a way to teach boys to see beauty in more shapes and forms than cover girl, super model packaging.

i think this can and should start in our youth ministries. for male leaders, do you pay equal attention to all the girls in your group? not just the bubbly, outgoing, popular girls? do your male students know that you find your wife beautiful? and what beyond her appearance makes her beautiful to you? are people’s characters and inner qualities celebrated more than their appearance or athletic skill?

so, that’s all. i just read marko’s post this am and this is what started spinning in my head.


tonite some friends and i had a blessing service for a friend of ours who’s pregnant with her first child and due in a few weeks. it was a wonderful evening where we celebrated with food, words and ritual the life passage of becoming a mother. as part of the celebration, my friends–who are all moms–shared storeis and memories of becoming a mother and the birthing process. my home was filled with love, laughter and the intimacy shared between women. now, the house is quiet and i find myself feeling rather melancholy. and i realize it’s pretty unlikely i’ll ever have a birth story of my own to share. i’ve known for awhile now that it’s pretty unlikely i’ll ever be able to become pregnant and in many ways i feel as though i’ve come to terms with it. but sitting here now, it’s hard to not feel a little cheated because i’m missing out on this amazing part of being a woman. it’s hard to not feel a little less female, less feminine. this statue is in trafalgar square. i took a picture of it for jeannie. i liked the statue, but i didn’t feel particularly connected to it. i think i realize why now.

i get by with a little help from my friends

if you want a clue into the friendships of women, check out sex and the city. i really love this show. i totally don’t relate to all the casual sex and picking up men (i’m just way too shy to pick up guys and too old fashioned for casual sex), but i do relate to the single angst, relationship woes and friendships. tonite’s episode was about carrie’s 35th birthday, about feeling alone and growing old. and it was her girlfriends who came along, who celebrated her, who reminded her she really wasn’t alone. i get that. those kinds of girlfriends are the ones who make life a little easier and a lot more fun. i’m so grateful to have a few of those kinds of girlfriends in my life.

lately i’ve been processing the whole growing old alone thing on a really deeply personal level. and in the midst i have a few friends who are sticking by me, reminding me i’m not alone. i’m so grateful for these friends. i couldn’t get by without them.

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