They were in the store together, mother and daughter, and the tween girl says, “Did you just see that?”
Her mom looks at her daughter’s smiling face and says, “See what?”
“That boy. He totally thinks I’m something! He looked at me and smiled!” she beamed.
“How does that make you feel?” inquired mom.
“Special. Important. Beautiful,” came the reply.
And the mom quietly sighed, smiled at her daughter, and prayed for wisdom.
How to interact with this?
Because mom deals with tons of women who ache inside for the attention of a man, especially their husbands, how does she respond to the beginnings of it in her own daughter?
How indeed? What have you seen?
I know what I’ve witnessed:
- Mom reinforces the world’s values of “get your identity from the attention of others” by buying copious amounts of “cool” and expensive clothes, often revealing, adding fuel to the “look at me” mentality.
- Mom legalistically criticizes daughter for feeling good about receiving the attention of others, calling her “prideful” and “lustful” (even at the age of 10).
- Mom engages with the daughter over the topic, trying to not be judgmental, acknowledging the girl’s feelings, but trying to help her see that they are misplaced – they are naturally there to receive affection from God, but should be redirected toward receiving God’s love, instead of the admiration of others, male or female.
My own daughter and I recently had an interesting discussion around this topic. She’s nearly 13, and has a number of different friends, both secular and Christian. The gist of the conversation was her amazement at how packs of boys in the mall treated her various friends – it seemed that the girls who “tried hard” to be noticed by the boys (by wearing make-up, “cool clothes” aka, somewhat revealing, and actively engaging the boys in conversation – even “chasing” them) were NOT the ones the boys wanted phone numbers from, nor were they the ones the boys competed with each other for attention from. My daughter was amazed that her girlfriends that “didn’t even try”(no makeup, modest clothes, ignored the boys) were the ones who were receiving all the attention.
I tried to help her understand that when she’s older, being interested in men is awesome, however she is in a critical time where she needs to learn to take the thoughts (the ones that make her feel special because of some guy’s behavior toward her) captive because she’s running the risk of having who she is wrapped up in someone else’s opinion of her – and God wired us to receive love, but we need to focus on receiving His Great Love first and foremost and always.
Because I know who the 12 year olds grow into – every week I’m talking with women who feel alone, invisible, and equate their self-worth with how their husband or boyfriend treats them. If he does well, they feel great about themselves. If he’s not doing it well, they’re miserable.
I don’t have any data on this, but what has become increasingly apparent to me over time is this scary truth (and I use the word, “truth” somewhat lightly, because I’m still researching it… but I really think it’s “a thing”) … that mature men will respond well to a woman’s attention, affection, and pursuit, but an immature man will cave to the temptation of laziness or selfishness and let the woman carry the load of the relationship.
What do you think?
Dare 28 in the book talks about how a woman can initiate intimacy to spice things up a bit – many mature men enjoy being pursued by their wife physically – but there’s one thing you should also know – I have seen some men feel threatened by this. Instead of feeling desired when their wives initiate, instead of feeling wonderful because she is interested in him, they actually feel like less of a man because she’s instigating.I don’t know what percentage of men this is, but I’ve seen enough of it to say that it might apply to a few of you, or someone you know.
The most encouraging thing this week? I made a new friend – someone who actively grew in respect, her relationship with God, and blogs copiously about marital intimacy. And, the best thing about her to me today (because I needed this :))? She believes in marital equality and actually searched for patriarchy in my book, The Respect Dare, but found none. What she did find, however, was intimacy with God that rocked her world. For those who might not understand, “marital equality” means both husband and wife are equals in the marriage, neither is more precious to God than the other. You should totally check out her blog: ForgivenWife.
Talking with her made my week, especially after I got blasted on my 101 Ways to Love Your Wife page.
The other really awesome thing that happened this week is Leah’s podcast on loving your wife. Her book, 365 Ways to Love Your Wife when Your Kids are Young came out, too. It’s in Kindle format and available at this link.
I love it when good things happen to others that I care about. 🙂 And I like it when good things happen to me, too. I’m excited that the 12 Truths to Change Your Marriage book is out this week. And I love it that Leah and I have resources for men available.
I’m feeling led to delve a little more deeply into the topics the women said they wanted from our survey, and discuss dealing with our daughters and how respecting ourselves, our God, and others impacts our relationships.
What about you? What do you think about this “male attention” topic?
So glad we’re on the journey together!
Love to you,