How will you raise your girl child?


With August being women’s month, a few days ago I posted a question on Facebook to solicit people’s views regarding women’s roles and position in society and whether or not the biblical instruction for wives to submit to their husbands has been understood properly. I also asked about gender roles and whether or not there are roles reserved for women and those reserved for men.

As a young dad who is raising a boy and a girl I need to know if a child’s gender determines his/her role in society and how I should prepare the child for that role. Do I raise my daughter with the idea that one day she will be someone’s wife and therefore should be oriented now to the idea of giving deference to men? Should children be given gender specific toys where boys play with cars and girls with dolls?

What about colours? Is it necessary for a baby boy to be marked with a blue colour and a baby girl with a pink one? I remember one day walking into a jewellery store that also does ear piercings. I came to look at watches and there was also a mother who brought a 2 year old girl to have her ears pierced. My daughter is also 2 years and what happened in that store traumatised me. I vowed to myself not to put my daughter through the experience of having her little ears forcibly perforated unless it is something that she also consents to.

In a country like South Africa the questions I am posing are very important. Ours is one of the most dangerous places for women to live in. When I told a member of my congregation who stays in the same suburb I stay in the route I take when jogging she responded by saying she can’t bring herself to run alone along that route. The route is along the beach area and therefore should be enjoyed by everyone but this young lady is prevented by fear from enjoying it. It is not the fear of dogs that are not on a leash that concerns her but the fear of violent and misogynistic men. She fears being a victim of sexual attack and therefore being part of the over 140 cases of rape that are reported every day in SA — about 6 women an hour. It is not known for sure how many more cases go unreported and the reasons for the underreporting are due to many factors. Either the victim thinks it is her fault or she has no confidence in the efficacy of our legal system.

The question now is why are SA men so violent against women and children? Is society to blame for the type of men we are raising? What about culture? Does culture play a role in giving men the idea that they have a right over women’s bodies? Does the Christian faith or the interpretation of some biblical texts entrench the idea of men’s superiority over women? I sometimes wonder how my life would be if I was a woman in a world that is governed by patriarchy and stereotypical thinking about my gender.

In the Bible we are told that there is neither male nor female but we are all one in Christ. As Christians what are we doing to make this envisioned existence a reality? With debates about the ordination of women still going on, I suppose we still have a long way to go. In some patriarchal societies a girl child is deemed to be a burden and inferior to a boy and this sometimes leads to infanticide or the killing of female infants.

The problem is that there is no anecdotal evidence to back the claim of girls supposed inferiority to boys. This means that if women have inferior roles today it is because society has assigned them to those roles. So for me instead of the grandstanding speeches and vain platitudes that are showered upon women this month I prefer that we deal with our country’s discriminatory tendencies towards women. To do this effectively we must start at how we raise the girl child.  



  1. An incisive and probing article, Afrika (as always!) You ask the right questions. As Christians we are often and understandably accused of assigning inferior roles to women (“submit”, “do not teach congregation”, “woman was deceived”), and we who live under the authority of Christ and the Bible must develop a Hermeneutic that harmonises these Scriptures with the one you cite (Gal 3:23) about all one in Christ, and that does not nullify the intrinsic Inspiration of God’s Word by making it gender-dependent. I’m wrestling with these issues at present, and welcome the insights of others.

  2. Jesus said we are to love one another as He loves us. It is so easy as a woman to love, honour and reverence a man who loves her in this way. In a way that does not suggest inferiority and I am sure a man has no difficulty in loving his wife as she loves and respects him. Let us teach our children, both boys and girls, to honour others no matter who they are. We are living in such an angry society that only the Love of God can remove the fear and anger as He replaces it with love and honour for each other.Thank you for your article we need to pay attention to what you are asking and look at what we are teaching, especially through our own behaviour.

  3. Hello Hugh

    If you write to me at I will forward to you a very impressive lesson on “Women in the New Testament Church”, which should remove any doubt that you may have about how to raise your daughter to become a strong God fearing woman of God, knowing with confidence exactly who she is in the Kingdom of God.

    Unfortunately the lesson does not cover the event where Eve was deceived by the devil in the Garden of Eden and why it came about that the Bible never says that sin entered this world through one woman, but through one man, namely Adam. I will be glad to share with you some basic insights and Biblical instructions from God Himself regarding the importance and responsibility of a father, a dad and a husband in a young girl’s life.

    I am the proud father of a grown daughter who from time to time also ministers to the youth and congregation in her local church as well as in the local prison.

    My main encouragement to any Christian parent will be to bless your sons and daughters with decrees and declarations dedicating them to the Lord and appropriate and apply the Blood of Jesus to every area of your children’s lives to protect them from every onslaught of the devil that may come against them.

  4. Margaret Ferguson

    Afrika, when I was studying in UK towards a Masters degree in Education I did a piece of research called ‘Attitudinal Differences to Primary Science by boys and girls’ as from my professional experience I realized that attitudes were set early. The research was very will received and got a high mark.You mention the sort of toys they play with and that is important. Girls are just as capable of boys of being successful in Science but there has been a tendency that girls have lent to the arts.I looked at matters like the type of library books the different sexes took out in primary school; boys dealing with physical and chemical science whilst the girls were interested in the biological sciences and sciences directly related to ‘caring’; early attitudes by parents – girls given dolls and boys toys with wheels. But I discovered in the former Soviet Union where mothers had to return to work months after a baby was born and the child put in a state run creche there was a much more even approach to play and playthings. At the adult stage, the former Soviet Union was notable for the the proprtion of women scientists compared with the West.

    Mothers seemed to accept the idea in the West of the boy playing games that made him dirty but for the girl it was ‘Don’t get your dress dirty’

    The big question is ‘Is it nature or nurture?’ and I am of the view that there is a good deal of the latter in how girls have developed. Society has much to answer for in this regard. My Christian view is that God wants people to reach their potential be they male or female but ‘man’ so often messes it up. Even within the church I wonder how often man’s ego is an excuse for ‘keeping women in their place’. I hope that this helps and my comment would be ‘let your children fly whether they are male or female’. God wants the best for them whatever their gender.