Affirming Your Daughters
The messages our daughters hear are so important! Matt and Lisa Jacobson reveal how vital a parent's voice truly is for speaking God's truth in ways our daughters can hear.
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FaithfulMan.com, an online social media community focusing on the topics of marriage, parenting, and biblical teaching. He is the author of 100 Words of Affirmation Your Wife Needs to Hear and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. He lives with his wife,...more
The messages our daughters hear are so important! Matt and Lisa Jacobson reveal how vital a parent’s voice truly is for speaking God’s truth in ways our daughters can hear.
Affirming Your Daughters
Ann: I remember one time—I think I was in the third grade—and I heard my dad say to a baseball player that he was coaching: “My daughter, Ann, may be the best athlete in our family.” It was like water to a thirsty plant; I was so needy of that. I sit and I think, “Oh, I was just so wanting and longing to be loved and affirmed.”
Dave: I mean, the power of words of affirmation is powerful. I’m not even sure we understand how powerful.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson; and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.
It’s funny; I started cleaning cars and detailing the inside of cars when I was eight years old,—
Dave: And she’s still amazing at it.
Ann: —because—and here’s why this is so sad!—my brother used to say, who was nine years older, “Wow, you’re really good at that.” It was, basically, he’s training me; you know?—like— [Laughter]
Lisa: That’s right.
Ann: —“You know, you just say anything good, and I’ll do it forever!”
Matt: Smart man.
Ann: He would bring their friends’ cars over; and I would be like, “Oh, just say something positive!” [Laughter]
Dave: So why are we talking about this?
Ann: Well, we’re talking about it because we have our friends, Matt and Lisa Jacobson, back with us today on FamilyLife Today. We’re going to really tackle, today, how we affirm our daughters. You guys, thanks, first of all, for being back with us again.
Lisa: Yes, thank you.
Matt: Great to be here.
Dave: And you didn’t just write a book on a couple of ideas. You wrote 100 ways—
Ann: —100 words!
Dave: —actually, 100 powerful words of affirmation for our daughters.
Dave: We talked about sons as well.
I know you’ve written 100 Ways to Love Your Spouse, …Your Husband, …Your Wife, …Your Sons; Words/Affirmation—you’ve got it all!—you’ve written all. And you’ve got a website and a podcast, FaithfulMan.com,—
Dave: Yes, yes. People can find you there and, obviously, can link through FamilyLifeToday.com.
Ann: And you’re some of our favorite guests.
Ann: We appreciate just how practical you are.
Matt: Thank you.
Ann: You’re really helping us, in our homes, raise sons and daughters. You’re helping us have great marriages. But I really appreciate that you’ve kind of made a differentiation between love and affirmation.
Ann: Let’s really talk about: “What is affirmation?” and “How do we do that?”
Matt: It’s basically looking for that moment, or that quality, or that achievement in the day, where you can say: “I want to point out [what] you said,” “…did,” or “…are something wonderful.” As a parent, it just means: “Today, I’m going to look for something that I can build up my daughter by saying some win that she’s had, something about her that I can point out that I like, something she’s done,”—just anything! Just start with the smallest thing; you’re looking for a moment to show her that she is a wonderful, valuable, important, interesting, loveable person.
Ann: I want to melt on the floor right now! [Laughter] Like if a dad said that to you/if a mom says that to you, it’s so powerful!
Dave: Well, I mean, you have eight kids—four daughters—right?
Matt: Yes, that’s right.
Dave: How do you do that every day?
Matt: You’re a parent, and you do it imperfectly; but really, what this book is—100 Words of Affirmation Your Daughter Needs to Hear—is, essentially, an aggregation of things that we’ve learned over time; and we’ve tried to employ.
Everybody, I think, hearing about affirming your daughter would say, “Oh, I’ll sign up for that.” But maybe, in real time, we might not have a specific idea of what we could do or what we could say. That’s really what this is: it’s a very doable, accessible, digestible resource/bite-size pieces.
Ann: Each one is small—
Ann: —like you could read one of these a day, easily, and try to apply it for that day.
Dave: I’m almost thinking, if I’m a parent who’s not very good at this, I could pick it up and literally read, “I believe in you and all you will become,”—that’s your first one—and that first one is a big one.
Ann: Well, I want to hit that one, Dave, because you guys even say: “Your voice must be steady and strong, ringing with clarity of a single bell on a still morning: ‘I believe in you. I believe in your gifts, and this world’—I like this part!—‘this world is in desperate need of them. I believe in your amazing abilities. You’re going to have a powerful impact in this life!’”
I can recall, even though my parents didn’t say very many positive, affirming things; but I was probably four years old, and my mom told me this/she said, “Honey, you were a mistake; you were an accident,”—
Matt: Oh, my word.
Ann: —okay? But it didn’t end there.
Ann: So she said—
Dave: It starts off pretty bad.
Ann: But then—you guys, she gives me this/she says, “But I always thought”—and I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, but they believed in God—my mom said, “But I just thought, ‘There must be something that God has for you to do,’”—just that one thing!
Lisa: —and you hung on to it.
Ann: I hung onto it all of my life, thinking, “Does God have something for me?”
So when you say to your kid, “I believe in you and all you will become,” I hope that that makes them like, “What is it?!”
Lisa: Oh, yes.
Ann: Because we’re all gifted; we all have passion. We all have—God loves us—and He has a plan for our lives.
Lisa: You know, I think, sometimes, we think of affirmation as like a compliment; or we’re afraid—I’ve also heard parents say, “Well, I don’t want to puff my kid up,”—it’s not about puffing up. That’s just about speaking truth and vision into their life and heart.
Can you imagine, if all of these Christian parents spoke to your kids each day like this, and just gave them this sense of destiny?—
Lisa: —this sense of calling? That is really powerful!
Ann: You know, the enemy of our soul, Satan—there’s a spiritual battle going on—do you think he has a dialogue that he’s saying to our kids?
Lisa: —every day.
Matt: Yes, there’s a voice out there called 21st century values—it’s sitting right on your daughter’s shoulder—and it’s telling her that she doesn’t measure up and probably never will: “She’s not enough this,” “She’s too much of that,” and “She doesn’t have much to offer, and she’s not good enough,”—a thousand different ways.
As a parent, recognizing the spiritual warfare of this playing field within your daughter’s mind and the way she’s thinking about herself. You’ve got to step into that war; you’ve got to recognize your place in it. God put you in her life to raise her up to know God and to know how God sees and values her.
That’s what, really, is the foundation of these books: you are not going to just let the culture overrun your home like a tsunami, and let all of the voices and all of the messages define who she is. You’re going to take charge of the culture within your home—the culture that comes out of the words you speak and the way you speak them—you’re going to stand against that tide.
That’s what we are encouraging parents [toward]; that’s what we wanted to do in the lives of our own kids. Really, a lot of that grew out of our own experiences, just as, you know, “We’re going to go on the offense.” This is a parent who wants to step into the gap, and stand for their kids, and stand against what the culture and the enemy has to say to them.
Lisa: I think, as a parent, you’re going to feel so helpless now more than ever; because you’ve got so much going against your kids—out there in the world; on social media—all of that stuff. But you’re not helpless, because you have a powerful voice. You need to use it intentionally, prayerfully, and boldly, really. Think about your own experience: “Who was the most powerful voice in your life?”—it was your parents; they are powerful.
Lisa: So we cannot be deceived into thinking we’re helpless, because we’re not. We actually have this wonderful opportunity to speak truth and life into our kids’ hearts and trust God to use that for His glory.
Ann: What about the mom or dad, who doesn’t even believe it for themselves?
Lisa: That’s really hard—to speak something that you’re struggling with yourself—but one thing I like to say is—and I’ve had to do myself is—I don’t want to wait until I have it together before I speak into my kids’ lives. I just can’t afford it; I don’t have enough time for that, to be honest.
As my girls got older, into their teens, I said, “You know what? I have something to tell you. I struggle with this now, because of my own upbringing and because of my own struggles; but I want you to know this before I even do. You are a daughter of the King; you are worthy. He has chosen you! Those are all powerful words that I am seeking to believe and receive, and I want you to do the same thing.”
Matt: And if I could speak to those parents for just a minute?
Matt: One of the things that we tend to forget—as people who are, maybe, feeling the weight of those voices; and we don’t really feel this for ourselves—the Bible tells us, “He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.” That is what God gave you; so if you’re getting something that’s other than that—you’re getting that spirit of negativity/fear, tearing you down—that is not from God; that is from the enemy. You need to go on spiritual attack and say, “No! I reject the voice of the enemy. I am a child of the most high God! That is who I am in Christ.”
And so, you yourself can go on a journey of receiving the affirmation that God has for you, based on what the Word of God says. God gets to define who you are—not the enemy; not the voices from the past—God defines who you are. And so you need to embrace that, as a parent. The more you do that, the more free you’ll feel to speak these things into the hearts of your daughters.
Dave: And I think/you know, Matt and Lisa, what you’re saying is that’s not a one-time mom and dad thing.
Dave: You know, it’s like I’ve got to immerse myself in the Word of God—
Ann: Good point.
Dave: —as the absolute truth in my life every day. I mean—again, it isn’t a vitamin; and it isn’t, “I’m not a good Christian if I don’t,”—but it’s like: “Man! I have to put truth in my mind—
Matt: That’s right.
Dave: —“renew my mind”—Romans 12—“daily!”
Dave: It’s even beyond daily.
I know you’ve mentioned in your book a passage that we use in our book. We called our book Perfect Parents. I don’t know if you knew about that one. [Laughter]
Dave: No, it’s actually called—
Matt: You got to it before we did.
Dave: —No Perfect Parents. There we go! [Laughter]
Matt: We were going to write that book. [Laughter]
Dave: Well, nobody can write it.
Matt: It’s not an autobiography; right? [Laughter]
Dave: That’s right.
Ann: God was the only perfect parent, but His kids still rebelled.
Matt: There you go! Exactly.
Dave: You’re not perfect parents; we aren’t, and our kids aren’t. But, you know, the passage that we sort of base the book on—and you did on your affirmation—was that Deuteronomy 6 passage,—
Dave: —which was really interesting in terms of the rhythms of speaking words of affirmation in the morning, in the evening, as you go along the way. But as we know, it starts with, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength”; it’s the great Shema of the Hebrew people. This is something they memorized; it was their DNA. It says: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts”; He’s talking to the parents here!
Dave: You can’t impress them on your children, or talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk the way unless they’re on our hearts. So if we’re trying to affirm and speak identity into our children—and we don’t understand it or really believe it for ourselves—it’s going to be very hard to give it away.
Dave: And again, it’s not once; it’s like I’ve got to remind myself daily, because there’s a liar—I hear his voice, and I shouldn’t—2 Corinthians 10:5 says to “take it captive immediately.”
Dave: There are times I don’t—it slips in—and I start to feel less about myself; and then I speak that into my kids, rather than, “No, no, no! I am powerful; I am strong in Christ. And so are you, and I want to speak that into you.”
Ann: You know, one of the things that I’ve been really convicted about—our kids are older, so it’s easier to find those really good chunks of time to be with God—but when our kids were younger, it was hard/—
Ann: —like you have to fight for that time. Yet, now, I get—maybe you guys get these notifications, too—of how much time you have logged into your devices.
Lisa: —weekly screen updates. [Laughter]
Matt: Oh, yes.
Ann: Exactly! I look at that; I think, “What a waste of time!”—like, “If I spent that much time in God’s Word or prayer—
Lisa: —“you’d be glowing!” [Laughter]
Ann: —“I would be glowing.
Dave: — the Shekinah glory.
Ann: I would have the Shekinah glory!”
Lisa: You are glowing! I didn’t mean to say that; okay?
Ann: Thank you! Thank you, Lisa. [Laughter]
Matt: Is it really a waste of time? Because I was just watching the fascinating aspects of dung beetles a while back, and I just learned a lot. [Laughter] No, I’m kidding; of course, you’re saying what’s right.
Ann: You’re right, though; as parents, it’s so easy—especially with little kids, you’re so exhausted—that you’re going to go down a Netflix® binge.
Ann: And you can do that, and you feel like, “Oh, at least, I got my time.” But there’s still not this feeling of: “Now I’m filled up, and I’m ready for the battle.”
Ann: I think—and I’m not trying to be the Holy Spirit—but I’m just even saying, in my own life, when I have spent time with God, I’m ready for the battle; because it is a battle, as you were saying.
You have so many great [affirmations]—like out of these 100—I could go through every single one and our listeners would love the practicality of every single one. One of the things you said is to remind them that the Father’s gentle hand is directing them. I was interested that you put: “The Father’s gentle hand is directing you.”
Matt: Yes; well, God is very gentle with us. The message that we often get is that: “God is a condemning God,” “God is upset—
Lisa: —“He’s upset with you/disappointed with you.”
Matt: —“always,” “You’re never pleasing Him,” “You never measure up,” “You’re not okay,” and “He’s basically mad at you most of the time.”
We are to impart the knowledge of God to our children, and we’re to teach our kids the character of God. The Bible says: “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden. I will give you rest.” The prodigal son’s father is standing there, waiting to embrace him—and that’s a child who has been totally rebellious—and he’s just waiting.
God’s hand is there; He’s directing. You’ve got to listen to Him—because He’s not going to, you know, come in with force and say, “This is what you’re going to do…”—He’s calling you to listen; He’s calling you to believe in His goodness, regardless of what you might be facing right now.
Dave: Do you feel there’s a difference in the words of affirmation that you give to daughters compared to sons? Is it the same thing, or is it a little bit nuanced?
Matt: Well, there’s certainly a lot of cross-over, just because they are people.
Matt: But I think there are some specific ways in which you would affirm a son and you would affirm a daughter that are different. One of the things is—in terms of the son’s need to grow into manhood, and a daughter to grow into womanhood—and to speak that identity into them from a very young age.
Maybe you have some thoughts about that, too, babe?
Lisa: Well, I was just thinking, for a daughter: I had read an article that you shouldn’t tell your daughter that she’s pretty, because that is too much focus on the physical. I took this article to heart; I was just trying.
Dave: It was on the internet, so it had to be true; right? [Laughter]
Lisa: Something like that. Sure enough, one of my daughters, who happens to be very gorgeous—which is obvious; just look at her—she was about 15 or 16; and she said, “Mom, do you think I’m pretty?”
Lisa: I thought, “Oh, honey, you’re beautiful! How could you not know that?!” She said, “Well, I don’t know; you’ve never said anything.”
Lisa: I thought, “Oh, that stupid article!”; [Laughter] you know?
She needed to know, not in a fluffing up kind of way, but just, “You are beautiful.” She did need to hear it from me.
Ann: It’s not that she was getting her identity from it.
Ann: She just wondered what you thought.
Lisa: Yes; just in an authentic, genuine way. And here she’s got all of Instagram® and photo shop telling her not that.
Dave: “You don’t measure up”; yes.
Lisa: So what a powerful word from a parent, saying/a mom saying: “You are beautiful just the way you are—
Lisa: —“the way God made you.
Lisa: “I love how you look.” By God’s grace, our girls are very confident with who they are and how they’re made. I never had that,—
Ann: No, me either. That’s so good.
Lisa: —so I really wanted that for my daughters.
Dave: And I know, as a husband—you know, I didn’t have a daughter—but I have a wife, who was a daughter/is a daughter. I’ve learned, over 40 years, to speak that—to even tell her how pretty I think she is, because she sometimes doesn’t know.
She’s also told me how I say words of affirmation. It’s a lot better when they’re gentle and not harsh. When we were first married, I could not believe she did not see her physical beauty like I did.
Ann: Well, I would even say something like, “Do you think I look okay tonight?” And he’d say [gruff voice], “Well, of course, you look okay!”; you know? I was like—
Dave: Did you notice how she did that?—[Laughter]—that was how harsh I was—and I couldn’t hear it. I literally thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me;—
Dave: —“you obviously think this.” She didn’t; and now I know why: she never heard words of affirmation. She’s asking me for that; and I’m like, “Well, duh!”
I’ve learned that: “Oh, my goodness! Even this woman doesn’t always know and needs someone she really trusts to say, ‘You’re amazing,’”—just like our kids.
Dave: That’s the power of words of affirmation.
Ann: I shouldn’t get into another one, but I just want to hit this last one [in the book]: you say to encourage our girls and to affirm them by saying, “You’re not a victim. You have the power to act.” I was intrigued by that, because you have a daughter in a wheelchair.
Ann: I think it would be really easy for kids [who] have really struggled, or suffered, or gone through things that are really out of their control—
Ann: —how do you relay that truth?
Matt: Well, actually, with words; you know? [Laughter] We speak it.
It has to do with, if you are a believer, you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit; that means that you have the power of the Holy Spirit in you. The world wants to make you a victim, but we are not victims. We are people empowered by God to walk with Him in a way that He loves and approves of; this is who you are. The world wants to make you a victim; it wants you to have the mentality and a mindset that is against what God wants you to be.
We just want our kids to be empowered to think: “No, I have the responsibility and the power to act.” That’s why we speak that message, because we are not interested in the message the world has for them on that level.
Lisa: Yes; I just wish I would have had more of those kinds of words spoken over me that: “I’m not helpless,” and “Life is not happening to me. God will enable me to do what I need to do, and to step out and do things that are right, that are helpful, and that are edifying. It’s not just happening to me.”
Matt: One of the things that happens, when you start thinking that life is happening to you, is you remove yourself from the aspect of responsibility for what’s happening. But if you’re trained not to think that way [that life is happening to you], then you recognize, “No, I need to make a decision; I need to move forward. I need to”—you know, if you’re in a rut—“get out of that rut.”
God is calling you to act, based on what He has/who He has said you are and what He has given you to do. He always makes a way for us, so it’s really about a positive path forward.
Ann: I like what you say [in the book]; you say: “No one’s life is defined by the good or bad things that happen to them. Your life is defined by your reaction to what takes place. Your chosen response to your life circumstances establishes who you are and the life that you will live.”
Ann: Those are wise words to say to our kids and good reminders for ourselves.
Dave: That’s really our job, as parents,—
Dave: —to do that and send them into the world with that. Thanks for helping us.
Ann: Thanks for being with us today.
Lisa: Thank you.
Matt: Great to be with you guys.
Bob: Would your son or daughter say, “My mom and dad are my greatest cheerleaders; they are always cheering me on. They’re always encouraging me”? Or would they say they hear more discouraging words from you?
I think, as parents, all of us can do a better job of speaking words of affirmation, words of encouragement, words of life with our children. Matt and Lisa Jacobson have a tool to help us do that. In fact, we’re making the books that Matt and Lisa have written available this week to FamilyLife Today listeners who can help us advance the work of FamilyLife through this radio program. When you make a donation to FamilyLife Today, you are pouring into the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who, every day, come to us for practical biblical help and hope for their marriage.
If you’re able to help with a donation today, we’d love to send you a copy of Matt and Lisa’s books—100 Words of Affirmation Your Daughter Needs to Hear and 100 Words of Affirmation Your Son Needs to Hear—very practical tools to help you be the cheerleader that your son or daughter needs you to be. Again, you can request copies of Matt and Lisa’s books when you make a donation of any amount. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and donate online, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation; ask for the books when you do, and we’re happy to send them out to you.
You know, the reason we have conversations like the one you’ve listened to today is because it’s really our mission, here, at FamilyLife to effectively develop godly marriages and families. David Robbins, who’s the president of FamilyLife, is here with me. David, we want to, not only help moms and dads win at home, but we want to help you [as a listener] help others in your sphere of influence to succeed in their family as well.
David: Yes, Bob. I love hearing you talk about our mission statement, because we’re passionate about building into families. We know the home is a conduit to build the kingdom of God. The work of parenting, like we’ve been talking about today, has a compounding effect. We are passionate about helping families experience Jesus, and pass it on to their kids, and into their neighborhoods and community—because we’re passionate about that second part of our mission statement that you said—that we know that a people of God, living surrendered lives to Jesus, can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, impact their corner of the world and change the world one home at a time. That’s what we do!
I want to just invite you: if you aren’t signed up for the email that we send out regularly—a couple of times a month—it is meant to encourage and equip you to live that out: growing in oneness with God and in your own home, and moving toward others around you, and impacting others for the kingdom of God. That’s what we’re about at FamilyLife, and it’s another great way you can be resourced to keep growing.
Bob: If you’d like to receive our “Help and Hope” e-newsletter, it’s free. You can sign up online at FamilyLifeToday.com; we’ve got a link on our website. Sign up and get extra help and hope sent to your email inbox each month.
And we hope you can join us, again tomorrow, when we’re going to take up the subject of purity. Certainly, that’s a biblical concept; but there have been times recently when folks have done a poor job of communicating what the Bible has to say about purity; it has not been handled well. Ron Deal and Juli Slattery will be with us to have a conversation about that. I hope you can join us for that as well.
And if you have friends who you think would benefit from that conversation, point them to this station. Tell them to tune in and listen to FamilyLife Today or point them to the podcast. FamilyLife Today is available as a podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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