Daughters for Sale: Raising Our Girls Without a Price Tag
The blow-ups between my husband and me about money are few and far between. On Thursday we will celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary. I am happy to report that we are still in love. Some days we are only in like with each other, other days we are ga-ga, like a sappy rom-com.
However, today was not one of those days. We had ourselves a little tiff, that turned into character assassinations and a verbal assault on his dearly departed mother, which, if it had been recorded, would have won me an Oscar.
I was ticked.
He was ticked-er.
Long story short, we were discussing the grocery budget, which had been maxed the day before distribution. I said, “I think it is a little short for the week, and the vacation/gift fund is a little high.” And he retorted, “well, you dipped into that fund twice in the last week so obviously it needs to be padded.”
Of course, there are eight sides to every story, but since I have a blog and he does not, you will only be getting my side.
My “dips” into those funds were for new socks and underwear for the vandals, our 5 and 7-year-old sons, and acne medicine for the teen baby.
These lavish expenses earned my poor husband a superior tongue lashing, and to the best of my abilities, the silent treatment. I am better at the tongue lashing than the silence, hence the vein bulging in my forehead and the bloody sore on the inside of my cheek.
I digress. Justin and I do not always speak the same money language.
However, all of this madness alerted me to other madness in the world of boys and girls and money.
With three friends in the throes of ugly divorces and high school romances ending for summer vacations and studies abroad, my ears have been perked to relationship woes. Paramount to those conversations is the root of all evil, money.
It is a diabolical beast.
Men, I use the term loosely, hiding funds from the women they vowed to share their life with or shortchanging their own children to move on to greener pastures and firmer thighs, that is a travesty. And we have all heard those stories, shockingly not just on television.
As much as it pains me to say it, and as terribly as this may go over, maybe there is something to be said for a good prenup. One that starts with, “In the event, you are not the man I thought you were, or you lose your ever-loving mind and decide to destroy all we hoped and dreamed of… I get half.”
And in all fairness, so does he.
Here is where I could state the obvious about marriage. Or I could go on and on about equal pay, working moms, #metoo, and teaching our daughters to respect their bodies and no means no.
But this is more about the price in their head.
I overheard a conversation in the mall food court. Three teen girls were talking about their prom the weekend before. One of the girls, a lanky brunette with a contagious giggle and a Justin Timberlake t-shirt, which I both admired and coveted, said this:
“He is mean to me. And he makes fun of me to his friends in front of me. I want to break up with him, but he spent like $300 on me for prom, so I think I should wait a couple of weeks.”
Her friends agreed.
Every instinct in my body wanted to rush over to her and shake her and say, “Sweet girl! You are not a hooker!?!?! You don’t owe your date anything! Not your time, not your body, and not your company!”
Perhaps this is just another tragedy of our culture, one we miss until we are signing divorce papers and being left with pennies on the dollar for our failed marriages, or perhaps, this is something we reprogram in our daughters. Something we should start saying.
You are not for sale.
I recall the jokes in college, “She is just here to find a pre-med student so she can get her MRS.” And I believe we are sneaking up on shattering the glass ceiling of the boys club in ministry and the workplace. But I believe we are way off in the teaching our girls their value in just being who they are.
And I say we simply because I am guilty of the same.
Certainly, I fell victim to some of the same dating mishaps in my time. I write about one of those near misses in my book Stolen Jesus. But it only recently occurred to me that we women and our daughters are spoon fed the message we owe men action for their investment. That we somehow must pay back that which is gifted us.
I only recently caught myself telling my teen daughter something along the same lines, “But he’s done so much for you…”
Regrettably, this was in reference to her own father. As if anything he does for her needs to be paid back with conversation or quality time. For this I am sorry, but also relieved that I recognized it.
There is no true love on condition. And there is no greater injustice than portraying love as consumerism. As if it can be bought and sold. Within the church there is this toxic message to girls, you are to be everything and nothing.
You are to serve, submit, exude wisdom and grace. You must be modest yet cloaked in beauty, independent yet subservient, educated but sit down and do not speak.
[bctt tweet=”There is no true love on condition. And there is no greater injustice than portraying love as consumerism. #daughters” username=”httpstwittercomjamiamerine”]
There is the price we pay to be recognized and the price in our mind of our worth.
My oldest daughter is married. Recently she and her husband were visiting us and she had the hiccups. She exacerbated the hiccups with her trademark gulp, burp swallow. This makes a gaseous belching noise that has, since her days on the Tidal Wave Swim Team, left me cringing. I joked, “you’ve landed a terrific man who is now faced with a bride who can hiccup/belch the alphabet… I beg you to stop lest he go running from the building.”
We all laughed and then she said, “You always said that! If my room was messy or I did this, (insert hiccup, gulp, burp, swallow, belch) I would never find a man! (insert hiccup, gulp, burp, swallow, belch) And look at me now! You should see my apartment!” (insert hiccup, gulp, burp, swallow, belch.)
Our family teases, but I woke with a sick heart because I did say that.
I taught my daughter that there were keys to landing a good man and keeping him based on her works. I lead her to believe there was a way to earn affection and that there was a price on her head.
Luckily, as with many of our worst mama moments, that message fell on deaf ears. Still, all these years later, she remembered I said it, there was a price on her head.
And perhaps this post won’t reach the masses. But if we start now, maybe this is an integral part of setting our girls free. Baby, you are worth more than dinner at the Olive Garden and a 15-minute limo ride to the high school. You owe no monetary compensation to your date, an invitation for your company has no price. And, you are more valuable than the measly number his lawyer jotted down on a negotiational orange post-it. The price you paid and the price he offered are not indicative of your worth. And most importantly, you were bought and paid for by a Christ who would have died, a brutal and treacherous death, just for you.
You are seen and heard. Adored and cherished. You are exactly what He created you to be… priceless.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
Romans 14:19 (NLT) “”So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.”
You might also like: #Metoo, #Neveryou
Read Rebecca’s post here!