Teaching Our Teenage Girls the Truth of Social Responsibility
Unlike the advice of Teen Vogue that robs teenage girls of their value, true advocacy and social responsibility should be in God-glorifying ways.
If you have ever had an argument with a teenage girl, you know she has passion and stubbornness like no one else. The kind of passion that teen magazines are capitalizing on. Teen Vogue is making headlines again, this time for promoting sex work and abortion under the guise of advocacy for women and reproductive rights.
Since under the leadership of former editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth, Teen Vogue underwent a transformation. It now seeks to guide teens “from prom to the polls.” Rather than entertainment, fashion, and beauty, the magazine now categorizes style, politics, culture, and identity.
When I bought my first teen magazine at 12 (only about 8 years ago), I flopped on my bed and flipped through pages of ridiculously-dressed models and celebrity crushes – not current news, politics, and sex advice. So this quick change is disturbing. For girls who desire a cause to fight for, Teen Vogue is drawing on their impressionable voices and dreams to be and do something. To leave their mark on everything from ethical fashion to immigration policies.
Teenage girls have strong voices
Teen Vogue is right. Teenage girls have voices, abilities, and talents, that when directed toward their created purpose, turn them into powerful advocates. Look at Malala Yousafzai, who at 17 years old, was the youngest person to receive the Nobel Prize in 2014 in advocating for education for girls. Or Mari Copeny, an 8-year-old girl who raised $10,000 for the water crisis in her hometown of Flint, Michigan.
Although these are great examples of young female advocates, Teen Vogue takes advocacy too far, pushing young girls to sacrifice their consciences and their bodies to popular beliefs.
Encourage true advocacy
Unlike the advice of Teen Vogue that robs teenage girls of their value, true advocacy should be in ways that are life-giving and God-glorifying. Parents should not shy away from the controversies of today, because the media is ready and waiting to embrace the fiery ambition of your daughter’s heart.
As your daughter is discovering her passions and voice, this is the time to guide her to see the world and her life filled with opportunities, as God does.
Here are ways to encourage the spirit of advocacy in your daughter’s heart.
Help teenage girls find God-honoring causes
As your daughter begins exploring what matters most to her, remind her of her ultimate purpose – to live a life that glorifies God. Pray for her to discover how she has been uniquely gifted, whether it be a heart for animals or world hunger.
After finding a specific cause she’s passionate about, encourage her to view her passion in light of her faith. Suggest caring for His creation through a zero-waste lifestyle or raising money for refugees that are made in His image. While there are many important issues, teach your daughter the importance of commitment with her God-given goal.
Talk about the news together
Many times, teens will first confront the evils of this world through news stories on social media or viral videos. Have conversations with your child about these events. Focus on God’s sovereignty and our responsibility to care for one another. Even if you differ on your responses, guide your teenage girl to move from anger into prayer and action.
Encourage volunteering, not just clicktivism
While it is easy to share a post or tweet an inspirational quote, encourage your daughter to be the practical hands and feet of Christ. Help her find opportunities to use her real voice in face-to-face places.
She could befriend others at her school who are lonely. Or speak at her youth group about the importance of missions. Teach her to be a steward of her time. Maybe she would enjoy volunteering with a local homeless shelter, advocacy group, or other nonprofit.
Read about biblical advocates together
The Bible is full of examples of young men and women who stand up for what they believe in through the power of the Holy Spirit. Take time with your daughter to read stories such as Esther, where a young woman advocates before the king and is used by God to save her people from destruction.
Teach her to speak out of kindness, not anger
In today’s world of rants and attacks on social media, our teens see how easy it is to jump into an argument when someone is passionate about an issue. Using verses such as Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” caution your daughter to be sure her message is grounded in biblical truth. But then also watch the way she shares it.
Ultimately, remember the One who gives true and powerful change
Unlike Teen Vogue’s motto that young girls can conquer and save the world, the Bible clearly states that God is the only one who can save and bring complete restoration to our broken humanity. Remind your daughter that real and lasting change comes through Christ. This change begins with our own hearts, which God then uses to help others.
Teenage girls are an amazing force for helping those in need through the gifts God has given them. We can teach our daughters that they have been given “such a time as this” to use their voice to shine a light in this world, rather than increase the darkness.
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