Teach Your Daughters the Importance of How to Build their Brothers Up!
A few days ago I posted this message and image on Instagram and Facebook speaking directly to the importance of purposefully raising sons to be men and how crucial it is that we enlist our daughters to help us in this noble pursuit.
After my post, there was an overwhelming amount of moms that commented on the need for help and teaching on this topic. Before I dig into this teaching I want to make something clear.
I believe that there is a need for both men and women to be leaders, but this post is specifically directed at enlisting your daughters to use their sisterly influence in a way that will build their brothers up instead of tearing them down.
Pray for Your Each of Your Children to be Leaders
Each time I have been pregnant I have prayed for my children and I continue to do so today. One of those prayers is that they might each, regardless of gender, rise up and be leaders for Christ in their generations. I knew in order for them to stand for righteousness as an ambassador for Christ, they would need to lead their hearts.
But when I became pregnant with our eldest son, I knew one of God’s calls on his life was to be a leader for another reason and I prayed for it to be so.
The reality that my baby boy would likely marry and be the head of a household, a wife, and a family was great and I knew that how I raised him would greatly impact his confidence and understanding of what it meant to be a godly man that is worthy of being followed.
Because God had created him male, I knew he would be called to learn how to follow authority, mainly God, but also lead his family. (Ephesians 5)
When our oldest son, who was the second in birth order, was around eighteen months old I saw a young toddler that would follow his older sister around, like any other little brother.
But I also saw something in their relationship that I knew I needed to steer in a different direction. I knew I needed to enlist my daughter’s help in building her brother’s confidence as a leader for two reasons: 1) to build him up as a leader versus teaching him to be a follower 2.) to teach her how to be an encourager who can lift up a man and follow one’s lead as well.
I saw a trend that is fluent in boy-girl relationships in our culture naturally growing in their relationship, and it reminded me of Genesis 3. I saw a boy who let his sister boss him around, tell him what to do, and do what she said. I also saw her, like any other firstborn 3-4 year old girl, getting him to take the blame for things that were not his fault, sweetly “convincing” him to play what she wanted versus what he wanted, and provoking him to anger then using her emotions and “hurt feelings” to try and manipulate who got punished. I saw her leading him all the time and not letting him lead even when he tried. And I saw him giving in to her over and over again.
I immediately evaluated what this could do to a young man long term and the equation wouldn’t work out to build up a strong, confident man of God. So, I asked God to give me insight as a mom in how to train my children up to embrace who God made them to be. It became clear in my mind that both needed to be challenged in their weaknesses.
My daughter was already natural at leading, but not so good at following, while my son needed the freedom to think, be creative, and come up with his own good ideas and experience someone validating them and participating in them too!
I felt Scripture was calling me to teach her how to follow and him how to lead because they both needed to grow.
Rather than squelching her leadership skills, I taught her how to use them for good by growing in her maturity, trying to be more selfless, and a better encourager.
She had a mission: to encourage her brother.
In addition, I needed her help because she too had massive influence in her brother’s development because she was his older sister.
Regardless of their age, the women that are in our son’s lives greatly impact the kind of men they become later in life.
There is a saying, “If you want to know how a man will treat you, just look at how he treats his mama.”
This is also largely true of how he treats his sisters. And honestly, how a woman treats her brothers and father can reflect some on how she will treat her husband.
She was just 4-years-old and I remember sitting down to talk to her, asking her for help. The conversation went something like this: “Mommy needs your help with building up your brother. He might be a husband and daddy someday and he is going to have to be the head of his own household! I know it is crazy to imagine that now, but I need your help because if we build him up now, he will grow into a great man of God and will be a good husband and daddy when he is older.”
Of course, because my daughter’s heart intentions were to love her brother she didn’t hesitate at all but got very excited. I remember her asking how she could help and my only reply was to look for ways to encourage him by saying “good job” or “that’s a good idea.”
I encouraged her to value him more by letting him chose what they played sometimes and being willing to do it even if she didn’t want to in that moment because he played house with her so often.
Since that day over a decade ago, those two have developed a very close friendship and it is one where they both respect one another, build one another up, and where she encourages him to be a man.
Warning Signs Your Family Dynamics are not Building One another up:
- When manipulation goes unchecked without accountability
- When one child convinces siblings to play or do what he/she wants all the time.
- When one child is always bossing other kids around.
- When a child doesn’t take turns being a good follower and letting others have a chance to lead
- When a child is selfish, only thinks about themselves, and doesn’t share toys easily.
- When a child lies, blame shifts, or manipulates parents, getting siblings or friends in trouble to dodge punishment or consequences
- When the conversations between family members are more critical and always correcting but never encouraging and affirming
Signs of healthy relationships
- When kids play well without one always being the leader
- When children are considerate of one another’s feelings and including one another as well as giving preference to one another in deciding what to play.
- When children share and are not competitively always needing to have what the other children have.
- When you hear “good job brother” and “that’s really good sister” in their unsupervised play.
- Sharing is easy and fun.
- When there is sincere remorse in apologies (sin will happen–it’s inevitable, but how your children respond tells you a lot about their hearts).
Of course, when raising sons, us mothers have many responsibilities and opportunities for building up our sons, which I will cover in another post.
But I do believe that it is a powerful lesson for all siblings to learn to the power of influence they have in one another’s lives.
One thing especially important to remember when raising both sons and daughters is that you model for your daughters what building up a man looks like through your marriage.
Our daughters have been given a great opportunity to develop good social and verbal skills in training themselves to develop the skill and habit of building up a man’s self-esteem by how they treat their brothers. This is a skill that I wish I had learned as a young girl and sister because I have to constantly preach to myself to uplift and build my husband up because the truth is that if I am not building him up, I am likely tearing him down.
Our words give life and can bring death also. The tongue is the most powerful muscle in our bodies, we need to train it and help it to become spiritually fit if you will.
James 3:1 says,
“We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
Moms, we must be aware of how powerful our words and our daughter’s words are in building up and tearing down our sons.
We need to train all our children to be vigilant in exercising self-control, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lastly, I would encourage you that if you do not experience success or eagerness in your conversation with your daughter on this topic of building up her brother, that you need to be really honest about WHERE your daughter’s and son’s hearts and souls are at spiritually. They need to cultivate the kind of relationship they want with one another. Just like you have to work on your marriage, so do they need to work on their sibling relationships.