The viral post that divided moms everywhere
It’s been a few months since Mrs. Hall’s now infamous open letter to teenage girls about appropriate internet behavior.
Written in first person, from the perspective of a conservative Christian mama, she makes it very clear that she will not tolerate scantily clad photos or anything smacking of sexual misconduct. Just one such paragraph reads:
We have teenage sons, and so naturally there are quite a few pictures of you lovely ladies to wade through. Wow – you sure took a bunch of selfies in your skimpy pj’s this summer!
I get it – you’re in your room, so you’re heading to bed, right? But then I can’t help but notice the red carpet pose, the extra-arched back, and the sultry pout. What’s up? None of these positions is one I naturally assume before sleep, this I know.
Given that she originally posted a photo of her own sons, shirtless on a beach, her once little “mom blog” went viral. It also received a lot of controversy from the Christian and non-Christian community alike.
Vituperative comments ranged from “Hypocrite! YOU are the reason girls feel so shamed GO AWAY” to full-fledged support for her mama-bear stance.
For lack of sounding like a fence walker, I see both sides of the argument. On one hand, girls are sexualizing themselves far too early. Personally, I would die if I saw a photo of my nine-year-old-daughter making fish lips on Facebook dressed in nothing but a training bra and bikini bottom.
On the other hand, placing the blame solely on young girls to keep boys from feeling sexual urges is unrealistic. I don’t want my daughter wearing hot pants to school, but at the same time, with her chiseled face and legs that reach toward heaven, she’s a spectacular creature. She could wear a paper bag and still get attention by the time she hits middle school. Fighting puberty is like attempting to squelch a raging building fire with a watering can. The best thing her dad and I can do is provide her the tools she needs to avoid going down in flames.
With that in mind – and the main point of this article – it’s wise to look at the tone of Mrs. Hall’s letter. It smacked of condescension. It spoke from a place of “I’ve got all the answers… it’s my way or the high way.” As Christians, is that really the how we are meant to show light in a darkened world? Protecting our children and fearless standing for truth is one thing. Self-righteous condemnation of kids who don’t know better is another. In a nutshell, Mrs. Hall lacked grace.
What’s the deal with kids and selfies?
A bigger question to bonder is this: Instead of shaming behavior, can we instead show mercy and look at the deeper issue? Why do girls feel the need to pose half-nude on Facebook? What is just the human body in its glorious natural form – say… bikinis on a beach? What, instead, is obvious vamping for attention? And, to go a step deeper, why do they feel the need to get it from the public?
Many might shout out answers like, “Lack of self-esteem!” or “The media is too big of an influence!” I agree with both of those, but for me, it comes down to one thing only: God.
It all comes down to Jesus
When kids know who they are in God – I mean really get it in their very core that are perfect “as is” because they were made in His image – there will be less need to get their sense of self from others.
I am no Mrs. Hall. I can hardly sit here and write with the tone of “I have all the answers.” But I do have a daughter. And so, with Valentine’s Day is coming up, I’m doing a radical departure from our normal card and chocolate routine. Instead, I’m giving her a letter. It won’t be just any letter. It will be a love letter.
In it, I’m going to share what I want for her future love life and husband.
A love letter to my daughter
Now, let’s get real: I fully and 100% expect her to choose her own partner down the line. But I hope throughout the years she’ll look back on this note from her mama, because in it are the things that every girl deserves to have in their mate – a mate who I pray will look past the grown up woman and still see God’s little girl underneath.
Dear Pipsqueak –
You’re far too young to be thinking about boys now – and I’m glad. You love your stuffed animals. You adore pouring through the Little House series, Anne of Green Gables, and that sassy pants Junie P. Jones.
You are an artist – a chef! I can’t believe the way you whipped out those cake beaters on your own and made your brother’s birthday cake! You are the only fourth grader I know who can work a power drill and then, moments later, stick it in the “lock position” and go paint your fingernails.
And so, while you’re not interested in boys right now, the time is coming fast that you will be giggling with Miss L. about the new dude in class and your girlhood days will vanish as quickly as your socks in the dryer.
Guess what! That’s totally normal and fine with me. (Not your lack of socks – your interest in boys!) I’ll adore your new stage, too. I hope you’ll be comfortable enough to ask me about these fellows… about dating… and about marriage… because I’ll give you an honest opinion. And it’s going to go something like this:
I don’t care who you end up marrying. I don’t care if he’s black, white, Asian, tall or short. I don’t care if he likes football or computers. I don’t care if he loves cooking or eating out seven days a week. But I sure hope he loves God, because in loving God, he will most clearly be able to love you.
Why? Because you are my child of God. You were created with a purpose.
(For you formed my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. —Psalms 139:13)
You were not put here on this earth to be anyone but yourself. God has a plan for you, and this husband of yours, I hope he supports that.
(Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. —Ephesians 5: 25)
I hope your husband knows the difference between dogmatic rules of some Christian circles and having real relationship with Jesus and others.
I hope he loves the Word of God, not to be a powerless robot, but to have boundaries in his life.
I pray his spiritual discipline will not act as a weight on his earthly soul but instead serve as springboard for the outrageous creativity that comes from partnering with a brilliant God.
(That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. —Ephesians 5: 26)
If meeting this man means you’re going to have kids at twenty two and homeschool them on a farm in Montana, so be it! If it means that you’re going to be a neurosurgeon and spend your time traveling from New York to L.A. (while I watch the grandbabies… please let there be grandbabies) then so be it.
What matters most is that you never forget who you are in God’s eyes. In remembering that now, you are setting the stage for the best love of your life.
I am sure you will make mistakes along the way – Lord knows I did. But guess what? God loves you. And so do I. And when that right guy finally comes along and makes you his permanent Valentine, he’s going to be so grateful you didn’t settle with the first person you messed up with.
I hope from time to time, through the years, you’ll come back to this letter. And maybe, when you think you’ve found ‘The One’ – hand him this letter. Let him read it. Underline the part about me wanting grandbabies, but most importantly, high-light the part about him loving Jesus. Because if he does – I mean not just with words but truly, deeply, lives out that Gospel from a place of enlightenment and truth – you are going to be the happiest woman this side of heaven.
I love you,
Have you considered writing a Valentines letter to your daughter or son? If so, what would you say?
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