Does Equal Mean Identical?

Most parents like to tell their daughters that they can follow their dreams — and it's true. If a daughter loves sports, competition is available; if she loves education, any field of study is pursuable; if she desires a career path, opportunities are open to her.

In spite of the fact that there are unprecedented opportunities for women in our society today, daughters entering their teen years will soon realize that this level playing field has developed into a confused playing field. The signals are mixed. Are independence and self-sufficiency the ultimate goals for women? Does equal mean the genders are identical?

As parents of teens, we must start the conversation with our daughters before they head off to college, where they'll be exposed to cultural and academic definitions of gender roles. The department of women's studies at countless universities often takes a defensive position that quickly turns offensive. Young women are encouraged to believe themselves not just equal to men, but oft times superior. So, before your daughter enters a collegiate classroom, take the opportunity to teach her to understand and treasure her God-given nature. Then make sure she understands and treasures the nature of her male counterparts, as well.

What she understands

The best place to start the discussion is right where your daughter finds herself today — studying in high school. Biology teaches the science of chromosomes, referencing male as XY and female as XX. While activists are denying the significance of gender differences, new scientific discoveries are reaffirming them. When studying brain matter, researchers at UC Irvine found that a female brain possesses more white matter. This increases the ability for spatial reasoning and multitasking. A male brain possesses more gray matter, increasing the ability for muscle control and sensory perception, creating laser-like focus.

Consider discussing these scientific findings at your next family dinner. Your daughter will most certainly roll her eyes as she clarifies, "Yeah, I already learned that." A great parenting moment would be to then ask your daughter, "Have you ever wondered why we are created differently? Does this have any significance in what genders can or should do?" Let her do the pondering. Remember that some of the best lessons learned will come from your daughter's own musings rather than your lectures.

Thought-provoking points

As your daughter expresses her thoughts, here are a few points that can be discretely woven into the conversation. Most females are natural caretakers. A great caretaker can multitask, whether in the home, in the workplace or in her friendships. One of the primary requirements to do this well is spatial reasoning — white matter. Most males are natural defenders. An effective defense requires muscle control, focus and sensory perception — all directed by gray matter. Females love to discuss issues, often and at length — white matter. Males, on the other hand, want to fix things — gray matter. Whatever a female wants to work through, a man will want to fix.

The beauty of this gender difference can be seen in the fact that there are times in life when issues need to be looked at from all sides. There are other times when problems just need to be fixed. As in all compromises, the tricky part is in discovering when each approach is appropriate. When a compromise is reached amiably, the complementary nature of each gender makes for a better life balance, a better whole.

One last thought before the dinner conversation comes to a close: Each gender's nature is somewhat predictable, but gender talents are not. They should never be confused. Help your daughter understand that nature and talents are not synonymous. Just because a person is male doesn't mean he can fix a car. Just because a person is female doesn't mean she can cook.

Hope in God's truth

Our Christian faith has established equality among the genders. The apostle Paul clarifies the biblical perspective on gender when in Galatians 3:28 he states, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." God treasures His children equally, and so should we.

So tell your daughter to dream big and work hard to pursue her goals. Encourage her to make the most of her opportunities and to embrace the joy of being purely female. At the same time, challenge her to appreciate the nature of her male counterparts. She just may find that when she truly respects the nature and worth of men, they are more apt to respect hers.

This article appeared in the August/September 2013 issue of Thriving Family. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.

© 2013 by Darlene Brock. Used by permission.

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